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Creative Commons and Copyright: Open Access and OER

OER Defined

Open Educational Resources (OER) are educational materials that are in the public domain or that have been introduced with an open license. An open license means that anyone can use, copy and re-share the materials. OER can be in the form of full courses, course materials, textbooks, curricula, syllabi, lecture notes, tests, assignments, videos or audio (UNESCO)

Valencia College libraries also have subscriptions to a multitude of resources than can be embedded in Canvas to also supplement your course materials. Even though these resources are not OER, they can be used together with OER to reduce the cost for students.

Open Access VS OER

Open Access is not the same as OER. While OER are created under an open license, Open Access materials are protected under traditional copyright and cannot be copied, shared, or remixed as can be done with OER.  Open Access materials can be read online without a subscription or download. Open Access content cannot be embedded either, you can only link to these resources in the same way you would link to the Library's databases.

Why Use Open Educational Resources

Why OER?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, textbook costs have increased more than 1000% since 1977 on average, textbooks and learning materials cost students approximately $1,200 per year. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, 7 in 10 students didn't purchase a textbook because it was too expensive. This increasing cost of textbooks and the struggle that students face is now pushing the OER movement forward.  the use of OERs can drastically minimize the cost of materials for students  while providing an opportunity for faculty to customize and create materials specific to their syllabus.

With the increasing cost of textbooks, OER's can be used to:

- Lower the cost of higher education and save students money.

- Find new ideas, activities, and resources posted by instructors from around the country.

- Locate textbooks that are peer-reviewed and frequently updated.

Key Benefits

  • OER eliminates the barrier to education that the high cost of textbooks often imposes.​

  • OER helps your students have access to the materials on the first day of class.​

  • OER helps to reduce equity gaps.​

  • OER can increase the currency and relevancy of content since most can quickly be updated, and students learn more when they have access to quality, relevant materials. 

  • Allows faculty to customize the text to their specific course 

  • Allows students to participate in the creation of textbook content

  • Promotes a cooperative open educational philosophy

Cost to students and legal permissions required for Commercial Textbooks, Library Resources & OERs

Cost to students chart

David Wiley. Slide. CC BY 4.0

The 5 R's of OER

The terms "open content" and "open educational resources" describe any copyrightable work (traditionally excluding software, which is described by other terms like "open source") that is licensed in a manner that provides users with free and perpetual permission to engage in the 5R activities:

Retain​: the right to make, own, and control copies of the content ​

Reuse: the right to use the content in a wide range of ways ​

Revise​: the right to adapt, adjust, modify, or alter the content itself ​

Remix​: the right to combine the original or revised content with other material to create something new​

Redistribute​: the right to share copies of the original content, your revisions, or your remixes with others

Source: David Wiley

OER Testimonials

“Why OER” video by The Council of Chief State School Officers. Video: CC BY 4.0 Music: The Zeppelin by Blue Dot Sessions: CC BY NC 4.0.

"Why OER?" by Holyoke Community College OER Taskforce. CC BY 3.0

What is Open Access?

A Very Brief Introduction to Open Access
by Peter Suber

Open-access (OA) literature is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions. What makes it possible is the internet and the consent of the author or copyright-holder.

In most fields, scholarly journals do not pay authors, who can therefore consent to OA without losing revenue. In this respect scholars and scientists are very differently situated from most musicians and movie-makers, and controversies about OA to music and movies do not carry over to research literature.

OA is entirely compatible with peer review, and all the major OA initiatives for scientific and scholarly literature insist on its importance. Just as authors of journal articles donate their labor, so do most journal editors and referees participating in peer review.

OA literature is not free to produce, even if it is less expensive to produce than conventionally published literature. The question is not whether scholarly literature can be made costless, but whether there are better ways to pay the bills than by charging readers and creating access barriers. Business models for paying the bills depend on how OA is delivered.

There are two primary vehicles for delivering OA to research articles: OA journals and OA archives or repositories.

  • OA archives or repositories do not perform peer review, but simply make their contents freely available to the world. They may contain unrefereed preprints, refereed postprints, or both. Archives may belong to institutions, such as universities and laboratories, or disciplines, such as physics and economics. Authors may archive their preprints without anyone else's permission, and a majority of journals already permit authors to archive their postprints. When archives comply with the metadata harvesting protocol of the Open Archives Initiative, then they are interoperable and users can find their contents without knowing which archives exist, where they are located, or what they contain. There is now open-source software for building and maintaining OAI-compliant archives and worldwide momentum for using it.
  • OA journals perform peer review and then make the approved contents freely available to the world. Their expenses consist of peer review, manuscript preparation, and server space. OA journals pay their bills very much the way broadcast television and radio stations do: those with an interest in disseminating the content pay the production costs upfront so that access can be free of charge for everyone with the right equipment. Sometimes this means that journals have a subsidy from the hosting university or professional society. Sometimes it means that journals charge a processing fee on accepted articles, to be paid by the author or the author's sponsor (employer, funding agency). OA journals that charge processing fees usually waive them in cases of economic hardship. OA journals with institutional subsidies tend to charge no processing fees. OA journals can get by on lower subsidies or fees if they have income from other publications, advertising, priced add-ons, or auxiliary services. Some institutions and consortia arrange fee discounts. Some OA publishers waive the fee for all researchers affiliated with institutions that have purchased an annual membership. There's a lot of room for creativity in finding ways to pay the costs of a peer-reviewed OA journal, and we're far from having exhausted our cleverness and imagination.

For a longer introduction, with live links for further reading, see Open Access Overview, This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.

Grean & Gold OA

The OA archives, repositories and journals discussed above by Peter Suber are also referred to as Green and Gold OA. The Creative Commons Certification Course describes Green & Gold OA as follows:

Green OA = ​making a version of the manuscript freely available in a repository. This is also known as self-archiving. An example of green OA is a university research repository. OA repositories can be organized by discipline (e.g. arXiv for physics) or institution (e.g. Knowledge@UChicago for the University of Chicago).

Gold OA = making the final version of the manuscript freely available immediately upon publication by the publisher, typically by publishing in an Open Access journal and making the article available under an open license. Typically, Open Access journals charge an Article Processing Charge (APC) when an author wishes to (a) publish an article online allowing for free public access and (b) retain the copyright to the article. APCs range from $0 to several thousand dollars per article. Read more about APCs at Wikipedia. An example of a gold OA journal is PLOS.

The Budapest Open Access Initiative defines Open Access to research to mean free "availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of [research] articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself. The only constraint on reproduction and distribution and the only role for copyright in this domain should be to give authors control over the integrity of their work and the right to be properly acknowledged and cited.”

Important components of the Open Access model include:

  1. Authors keep their copyright.
  2. Zero embargo period.
  3. Share the research data with the article.
  4. Add a Creative Commons license to the research article that enables text and data mining (any of the non ND licenses work, but CC BY is preferred).

Tools to assist faculty & scholars in understanding their rights & publishing options:

  1. Termination of Transfer Tool
  2. Scholars Copyright Addendum Engine
  3. Authors Alliance Resources

To learn more about why Open Access matters to faculty, researchers and students, watch these two videos:

“Open Access Explained!” Attributions: Animation by Jorge Cham. Narration by Nick Shockey and Jonathan Eisen. Transcription by Noel Dilworth. Produced in partnership with the Right to Research Coalition, the Scholarly Publishing and Resources Coalition and the National Association of Graduate-Professional Students. | Piled Higher and Deeper (PHD Comics) | CC-BY 3.0

How Open-Access Journals Are Transforming Science | Michael Eisen on ReasonTV


Creative Commons License
Creative Commons & Copyright LibGuide by Devika Ramsingh is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Based on 06/12/2020 CC Certification Certificate for Librarians course under a CC BY 4.0 license.
This guide is adapted from Creative Commons & Copyright LibGuide by Tom Eland Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.