In August this year we introduced UCL’s Open Education (OE) initiative through the UCL Open Access blog (which you can read here) the article provides an overview of what Open Education is, including benefits, and information about what UCL is doing.
When publishing open educational resources it is essential to consider Intellectual Property issues, such as copyright, open licensing and third-party content.
Intellectual property (IP) and copyright
When an OER is created at UCL, whether by a staff member or student, it remains the property of that creator. This also means that creator owns the copyright in that work.
A licence provides information to a user about how a resource can be used, and is usually prescribed by the copyright owner.
There are a variety of licences, and they express different types of use of a resource. For example, one licence may express that a resource can be reused as long as the creator/owner is credited for their work, another licence may express that a resource can be reused as long as it is not modified, and so on. There can be combinations of different uses.
To ensure that OER remain open and reusable, UCL encourages the use of open licences.
Creative Commons (CC) is an organisation which provides open licences which can be freely applied; this table provides an overview of the different licences CC provides, and what uses each prescribes.
Copied image “Creative Commons licences” by Foter, which is licensed under the CC BY-SA 4.0 licence.
The Creative Commons website also offers a tool to make the selection of an open licence easier.
Once the desired licence has been selected, e.g. CC BY-NC, this information needs to be noted somewhere on the resource (ideally on the front page) to indicate to the user how they are allowed to reuse that OER. A hyperlink to the licence information can be useful.
A good example would be: “This work by [author’s name] is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.”
UCL’s licence to use educational materials created by UCL staff
Although UCL waives its right to ownership of copyright in research outputs and teaching materials created by UCL staff, it does claim a wide-ranging licence to re-use those materials, including re-use for OER purposes. The details are in the UCL IPR Policy and a link to the updated UCL IPR policy will be added when it is available on the website.
Educational materials created by UCL students
Students generally own the copyright in their own material and UCL requires permission or a licence from the individual student in order to re-use their work.
Third-party content is content that is licensed or owned by another person or organisation other than yourself. The most common type of third-party content related to OER are images and quotations.
You can re/use third-party content in your OER as long as:
- you have obtained permission to do so,
- it is covered by a statutory exception and passes the Fair Dealing test, or
- there is a licence which allows for the reuse of that work.
Where the licence and re/use information for an OER is not explicitly stated, you must obtain clarification and permission from the creator/owner of the teaching content before you use it. It is your responsibility to retain permission information; the Open Education team and UCL Copyright Support Officer can provide support information.
Attribution and citation
If you are reusing third-party content, you are required to attribute it or provide a citation.
An example of an attribution may be: “Copied image “Creative Commons licences” by Foter, is licensed under the CC BY-SA 4.0 licence.”
We encourage the citation of OER and you can find information about correct citations here:
If you require support or advice about anything related to OER and IPR, please contact the Open Education team or UCL Copyright Support Officer; we are here to help!