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Open Educational Resources (OER/ZTC/LTC)

This guide provides information about OER and a basic primer about copyright and fair use for instruction

Current OERI Attributions Guides

Creative Commons Licenses

What are Creative Commons Licenses?

Creative Commons licenses are free copyright licenses that creators can use to indicate how they'd like their work to be used. Creators can choose from a set of licenses with varying permissions, from the most open license (CC0) to the least open license (CC BY-NC-ND). The license most commonly used by educators tends to be the CC BY license (can distribute, remix, and adapt so long as you give credit).

See list and image below for the range of licenses. Click on each license name for a complete description of the terms & uses of each CC license.

  1. CC0 Public Domain Declaration, CC0
  2. Attribution, CC BY
  3. Attribution-ShareAlike, CC BY-SA
  4. Attribution-NoDerivs, CC BY-ND
  5. Attribution-NonCommercial, CC BY-NC
  6. Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike, CC BY-NC-SA
  7. Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs, CC BY-NC-ND

Most open to least open: CC0, BY, BYSA, BYND, BYNC, BYNCSA, BYNCND

For more information about this subject Click Here

Terms of use: Content created by Creative Commons, originally published at, under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Creative Commons Explained

This short animation video explains the CC licenses.

Creative Commons Kiwi by Creative Commons Aotearoa New Zealand is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 New Zealand (CC BY) license.

Copyright & Fair Use


Legal use of copyrighted materials is a very important consideration for educators. Whether you want to share an article with your students, provide a "course pack" of assorted materials as a textbook replacement, use an Open "OER" Textbook, or need quality images for a PowerPoint presentation, the question of what's acceptable use can be confusing. See the table below to help you determine how to integrate various materials into your course. 

Is the work in the Public Domain?

  • Works in the public domain may be copied and distributed without permission of the creator/owner.

  • Most works older than 1923 are in the public domain, and some later works as well. See Public Domain Sherpa or Digital Copyright Slider for help determining if a work is in the public domain.

  • Most works produced by the U.S. government are in the public domain. Assume a government document to be in the public domain unless it contains a copyright notice.

  • The Public Domain Review: Guide to finding interesting Public Domain works online. 

Is the work open licensed? 

  • Works with a Creative Commons or other open license will be labeled with the specifics of what type of use is allowed. The most common, "CC-BY", means that the work can be copied, edited, and distributed without permission of the creator/owner, requiring only that you attribute the original author.

  • Guide to Creative Commons licensing

  • To search: Creative Commons search

Is the work online?

  • If a work is online, you may link to it instead of copying it without permission of the copyright holder (unless it is a rare case where the work specifically states this isn't allowed). This applies to works on free websites (for example, a YouTube video or a blog post), as well as works already licensed to the college through Library subscription databases, such as journal articles or ebooks.

Does your intended use of the work fall under "fair use"?

  • Fair use is a doctrine of U.S. copyright law which gives exceptions to certain uses of copyrighted materials, which would otherwise by copyright infringement. To determine if fair use applies to your use, the four fair use factors must be applied.

    • 1. Purpose & Character of the Use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for non-profit educational purposes;  

    • 2. Nature of the Work;

    • 3. Amount and Substantiality of Portion Used in relation to the copyright work as a whole,

    • 4. Effect on the Market for Original (The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work)

  • See Kirkwood Library's guide to fair use for more information on how to apply fair use to your situation.

Asking for permission

  • If it's not possible to link to a licensed or free copy of the work, and if fair use doesn't apply, you can contact the copyright holder for permission. The University System of Georgia has an excellent guide on requesting permissions and identifying the copyright owner of a work, with sample permission letters.

Paying copyright holder for use

  • If it's not possible to link to a license or free copy of the work, and if fair use doesn't apply, you can also purchase the right to copy, distribute, display, or perform a work. This is usually done through a licensing agent. The University System of Georgia has an excellent guide to identifying a licensing agent according to the format of the work you want to use (print, music, video, etc.). 

Adapted from: "Open Textbooks, OER & Other Open or Free Resources for Faculty: Copyright & Fair Use." Kirkwood Community College

More Fair Use

Fair Use is. . .

A provision of the U.S. Copyright law, Section 107, that provides for the limited use or reproduction of copyrighted content without seeking permission from the rights holder. 

Fair use is appropriate for teaching, research, scholarship, criticism or commentary, but it may also be used when creating a news reports, blogs, mashups, presentations, art, and music.

However, fair use is not a blatant exception, i.e., all educational purposes might not be deemed fair use, and there are some commercial projects where it can be applied.

When determining whether or a use of copyrighted content is fair, it is important to weigh the following four factors: 

1. The purpose and character of the use
2. The nature of the copyrighted work
3. Amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the entire work
4. Effect of the use upon the potential market value

Fair use is a section of the U.S. Copyright Act, but people are sometimes unsure of how to apply the four factors.  The Columbia University Copyright Advisory Office provides a comprehensive explanation of fair use and how to apply the four factors. 

Fair Use Factors


Factor 1 - Purpose of the Use

Favoring Fair Use    Opposing Fair Use

Teaching, Research, Scholarship

Commercial activity

Criticism, Comment, News Reporting

Profiting from the use

Transformative or productive use                  
(changes the work for new utility)


Restricted access
(to students or other appropriate group)

Bad Faith Behavior


Denying credit to original author

Factor 2 - Nature of the Work

Favoring Fair Use Opposing Fair Use

Published work

Unpublished work

Factual or nonfiction based

Highly creative work (art, music, novels, films, plays)

Important to meet favored educational objectives


Factor 3 - Amount and Substantiality

Favoring Fair Use    Opposing Fair Use

Small Quantity

Unpublished Work

Portion use is not central or significant

Portion used is central or “heart” of the work, .i.e.,
the best or most recognizable part                              

Amount is appropriate for favored educational purpose

Factor 4 - Effect on the Market

Favoring Fair Use Opposing Fair Use

User owns lawfully purchased or acquired copy of original work

Could replace sale of copyrighted work, i.e., numerous copies made

One or few copies made

Significantly impairs market or potential market for copyrighted work or derivative

No significant effect on the market or potential market for copyrighted work

Reasonable available licensing mechanism for use of the copyrighted work

No similar product marketed by the copyright holder

Affordable permission available for using work

Lack of licensing mechanism, i.e., there is no platform available to license
or provide access to the content

Made accessible via Web or public forum

Classroom Use Exemption

The Classroom Use Exemption (17 U.S.C. §110(1)) only applies in limited situations, but when applied, it gives clear rights.
  • In-class viewing is a public performance, but it's permitted under the Classroom Use Exemption

To qualify for this exemption, you must:

  • Be in a classroom ("or similar place devoted to instruction").
  • Be there in person, engaged in face-to-face teaching activities.
  • Be at a nonprofit educational institution.
  • Be using a lawfully made copy

The Classroom Use Exemption does not apply apply online and it doesn't apply to interactions that are not in-person.   The Teach Act does for  Distance Education what the Classroom Use Exemption does for in person  – but  it is not something UIC can use as U of I does not have a policy on the use of copyrighted materials.

Fair Use Tools and Resources

Fair Use Resources 

Copyright Quick Guide
Columbia University Copyright Advisory Office
Fair Use Defined
Columbia University Copyright Advisory Office
Fair Use Analysis (online tool)
Michael Brewer and the ALA Office for Information Technology Policy
Request Permission to use a copyrighted work
Columbia University Copyright Advisory Office
Register your work ©
Scholarly Communication @ UIC
University of Illinois at Chicago Library
Creative Commons Licensing

California State Support

Open Education Resources

This Initiative is responsible for the management, policy development and Implementation for the following special projects:

        Zero Textbook Cost Degree

  • Program Focus Areas [pdf]
  • Frequently Asked Questions - 17-085 (Rev. 9-14-17)
  • Frequently Asked Questions - 16-066 & 16-080 (Rev. 11-16-16)
  • RFA 17-085 Intent to Award List [pdf]
  • RFA 17-085 Implementation Phase II [pdf] or [Word]
  • Award List 16-066 & 080, 17-066 & 080 [pdf] or [Excel]
  • RFA 16-066 & 16-080 Planning and Implementation Phase I [pdf] or [Word]
  • RFA 16-066 & 16-080 Contact Page [pdf] or [Word]
  • SurveyGizmo Training #1 (6-16-17) [Word]
  • Symbol/Logo [pdf] & [pdf]
  • Webinar (6-22-17) Phase II RFA Technical Assistance [pdf]
  • Webinar (3-14-17) RFA Nuts & Bolts [pdf] or [PPT]
  • Webinar (11-14-16) Phase I RFA Technical Assistance [pdf]
  • Webinar (10-31-16) California ZTCD RFA Overview [pdf]
  • ZTC Technical Assistance Provider

Regulatory References 

  • California Education Code 66408 - Academic Materials [pdf] or [Word
  • California Education Code 78050-78052 - Zero Textbook Cost Degree Grant Program [pdf] or [Word]
  • SB 1359 (Block, 2016) Public Postsecondary Education: Course Materials [pdf] or [Word]
  • SB 826 (Leno, 2016) Budget Act of 2016 [pdf] or [Word]
  • AB 1602 (2016) (Higher Education Trailer Bill) [pdf] or [Word]
  • AB 798 (Bonilla, 2015) College Textbook Affordability Act [pdf] or [Word]   
  • SB 1053 (Steinberg, 2012) California Digital Open Source Library [pdf] or [Word]
  • SB 1052 (Steinberg, 2012) Public Postsecondary Education: California Open Education Resources Council
  • AB 2261 (Ruskin, 2008) Community Colleges: Open Education Resources Centers [pdf] or [Word]


Resources and Tools  


Extranet -- California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office. “Extranet -- California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office > Divisions > Academic Affairs > Open Education Resources.” California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office,


Recorded Webinar