Can I Use This? Developing Open Literacies or Understanding the Basics and Implications of Copyright, Fair Use, and Open Licensing for e-Learning

  • Olga Belikov
  • Royce KimmonsEmail author
Part of the Educational Communications and Technology: Issues and Innovations book series (ECTII)


Open educational resources (OER) have garnered increased attention in recent years as a means for driving down educational costs, addressing differentiation and adaptability needs, improving accuracy and quality of materials, and supporting collaboration in the design of digital coursework. Perhaps one of the greatest identified barriers in the adoption of OER has been a lack of literacy regarding copyright, fair use, and open licensing. These concepts are commonly misunderstood in educational institutions. Many instructors and educational leaders struggle with understanding what is copyrighted, when it is copyrighted, what it means if it is copyrighted, and what open means. This leads educational leaders and their programs to either improperly use these materials (i.e., illegally or unethically) or to be fearful when using them in legitimate, allowable ways. Through this chapter, we seek to provide educational leaders with an understanding of what is necessary to make full and safe use of both copyrighted and open educational resources.


Copyright Fair use Creative commons Public domain Open educational resources OER Open literacies 


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  3. U.S. Copyright Office. (n.d.). Retrieved April 15, 2016, from

Copyright information

© Association for Educational Communications and Technology 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Brigham Young UniversityProvoUSA

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