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Copyright - Open Access and Creative Commons

This guide will help you navigate U.S. copyright law in your scholarly activities.

Using Open Access and Creative Commons Works

  1. What is open access? If an article is open access, are there still restrictions on sharing it?
  2. What is Creative Commons?

1. What is open access? If an article is open access, are there still restrictions on sharing it?

Open access works are published works made freely available to everyone, either immediately or after an embargo period. They are still copyrighted materials owned either by the publisher or author, and should be treated the same way as other materials. The advantage of these titles is that they are free to everyone, so placing a link to the work on your webpage or course site gives everyone access to this resource, including members of the public.

Best Practices

  • Instead of making copies in a paper or digital format, give students and colleagues the URL.
  • Link to the article on Blackboard instead of putting a copy on reserve.
  • Search the page the article is posted on for a Creative Commons license (see next question).
  • Visit the publisher's website to determine their policies and restrictions.

2. What is Creative Commons?

Creative Commons is an addition to traditional copyright, designed to facilitate the sharing of materials. Creative Commons licenses allow creators to specify how others can freely use their content while still retaining their copyright. Different contracts allow for different uses, such as non-commercial use only or using without changing the content.

When using materials published online, check for the Creative Commons symbol to see if you are able to freely use the work for noncommercial purposes.

Best Practices

  • Consider releasing unpublished works online under a Creative Commons license or discussing Creative Commons with your publisher.
  • Use a Creative Commons search engine like CC Search to find freely-available images, music, and videos.
  • When using a work under a CC license, make sure to read and follow the specific license. Most require attribution, and many have further restrictions on their use such as only in non-commercial works.

Guide Information

Last Updated: Feb 27, 2024 3:07 PM