FAQs: Intellectual property and copyright

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Image courtesy of Franz Patzig

Does membership in the OER Foundation imply any changes to my institutional intellectual property policy?

No. There is no requirement for contributing members of the OER Foundation to change or adapt their institutional intellectual property policies. We recommend that WikiEducator contributors consult their institutional intellectual property policy or national copyright legislation to determine whether they can legally license their contributions to WikiEducator.

Generally speaking, many institutions of higher education operate under the rule of "academic exception" which means that the academic author is the first holder of the copyright in any work he or she produces. However, local policies or employment agreements may assign copyright to the employer, especially in cases where the institution commissions the development of resources in return for a financial consideration. However, our experience in WikiEducator demonstrates that most institutions are willing to release these materials under an open content license because: our website is committed to the social good of education; the OER Foundation is a non-profit committed to charitable education purposes; and the fact that contributors retain the copyright of their materials contributed to the WikiEducator website. We recommend that you consult your local policies and employment agreements.

The copyright situation may be different in the school sector. You should consult your national copyright legislation. Generally speaking, national copyright legislation typically assigns copyright of resources produced to the employer which may be the School Board of Trustees or your Ministry of Education. Similarly, our experience in WikiEducator is that these copyright holders are also willing to release educational materials under an open content license.

The Commonwealth of Learning has produced an excellent introduction to Copyright, which you can download. The OER Foundation also provides advice and consulting services relating to intellectual property policy and facilitation transformation for open education. Feel free to email us should you have any questions about intellectual property policy thoughts or ideas for your organisation.

Who holds copyright on materials produced in WikiEducator?

The contributors hold copyright. WikiEducator subscribes to the Free Cultural Works Definition, and WikiEducator does not hold the copyright of contributions to our website.

Generally speaking, contributors developing OER on WikiEducator hold the copyright of the materials they produce in WikiEducator, unless this is precluded by national copyright law or specific arrangements pertaining to your conditions of employment. WikiEducator supports the licensing of materials under a Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) or Creative Commons Sharealike license (CC-BY-SA). We also welcome original creative works dedicated to the public domain.

Where can I find out more on Creative Commons Licensing?

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Web Resources

  • CCLearn of Creative Commons international provide a number of useful links and published resources on Creative Commons Licensing from an educational perspective.
  • WikiEducator has developed a self-study tutorial on the meaning of free content
  • Consult the chapter on how to license OER in the OER Handbook