Developing OER

[Updated: 09 Jan 2024]

What are Open Educational Resources (OER)?

"Open Educational Resources (OER) are any type of educational materials that are in the public domain or introduced with an open license. The nature of these open materials means that anyone can legally and freely copy, use, adapt and re-share them. OER range from textbooks to curricula, syllabi, lecture notes, assignments, tests, projects, audio, video and animation." (UNESCO)

What are the copyright issues in developing new OER?

Copyright in your new OER

In copyright law, the author of a work is generally the copyright owner. However, if the work is created in the course of employment, then the copyright in the work would normally be owned by the employer, unless there is an agreement to the contrary. At the U of A, in the case of AASUA employees, in most cases the employee will retain copyright in their works under the collective agreement. For the work of any other employee, consult the agreement for any copyright provisions. Students will normally own copyright in their work, except where that work was performed under an employment agreement, in which case the terms of the agreement will govern.

Opening Up Copyright Instructional Module:

Section 13: Ownership of Copyright

The importance of copyright ownership in OER

In order for a copyright-protected work to be made "open", the copyright holder(s) in the work must agree to make the work open. For collaborative works, all the contributors should be in agreement regarding how the work is to be made available, and this agreement should be in writing. Where some contributions have been made by university employees such that the university retains copyright in those contributions, then the university should also be a party to that agreement.

Making your new OER "open"

OER are normally made "open" through the application of an open licence to the work, like a Creative Commons licence. More information about the range of open licences available and how to attach a specific licence to a work is available on the Creative Commons website. Another useful resource is the licensing page on The Learning Portal website.

Opening Up Copyright Instructional Module:

Open Licensing and Creative Commons

What other OER information resources are available from the University of Alberta?

Copyright Office

U of A Library

U of A Centre for Teaching and Learning

Where can I go with questions about copyright and OER?

For any additional information regarding OER and copyright, contact the Copyright Office help desk at


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