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Open Educational Resources

Open educational resources are course materials that anyone can freely retain, revise, remix, reuse and redistribute.

Obtaining copyright clearances

 For all source material you include in an OER that you are creating, you need to:

  • Confirm you hold the rights to the source material; or
  • Conduct copyright clearances before publishing the OER 

Own works

The author of a work is generally the copyright owner unless the rights have been assigned through employment or contract.  

Under the University of Adelaide's Intellectual Property (IP) Policy, for example, authors generally retain the rights in their scholarly or creative works such as journal articles, conference papers and books but the University asserts rights over teaching materials created while under employment at the University. Further, its common for authors to assign or license rights in scholarly works exclusively to a publisher. 

Third party materials

Generally, all third party materials included in the OER project will need copyright clearance, including substantial quotes or excerpts, tables, figures, diagrams, photographs, worksheets or questionnaires, among others. The Third Party Copyright Material template for theses can be adapted for this purpose.

The CAUL Open Educational Resources Collective Publishing Workflow also has a section on copyright considerations for OERs, which provides more detail and further templates for managing copyright clearances.

Clearance methods

Consider the following tips to obtain copyright clearances for certain types of works:

Own Works

Teaching materials

The University's Intellectual Property (IP) Policy requires approval from the Director Commercialisation, ICS, to divest or license University IP. Contact ICS through the University IP Portal

Published scholarly works

Check the publishing agreement and obtain permission from the publisher or through Copyright Clearance Centre as required.

Co-authored works

Check the co-author agreement and obtain permission from the corresponding/lead author or co-authors as required.

Third Party Materials

Open licensed works

Check if an appropriate Creative Commons (CC) or other licence applies. Note that works under a CC-BY-ND licence may still require permission for excerpts if they are altered in some way.

Copyright Exception

Check if the criticism and review fair dealing exception applies.


Obtain permission from the rights holder to copy, communicate and publish the work.

If clearance isn’t possible:

  • Consider omitting: assess whether it's really necessary to include the item. 
  • Use an alternative: create something yourself or search for an open licensed equivalent. Browse the Finding OERs page to get started.

Contact the Library's Copyright & Licensing Coordinator for further advice on copyright clearances.

Further resources