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Copyright, Fair Use, and Creative Commons: Open Educational Resources (OER)

Confused about what you can and can't use in educational presentations? Is fair use a blanket protection for teachers? Here are some resources to help you and your students navigate the murky waters of copyright.

Why OER?

"We believe that educational opportunities should be available to all learners. Creating an open education ecosystem involves making learning materials, data, and educational opportunities available without restrictions imposed by copyright laws, access barriers, or exclusive proprietary systems that lack interoperability and limit the free exchange of information.

In the 2017 National Education Technology Plan, the Department defines openly licensed educational resources as teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under a license that permits their free use, reuse, modification, and sharing with others. Digital openly licensed resources can include complete online courses, modular digital textbooks as well as more granular resources such as images, videos, and assessment items."

US Dept of Education Office of Educational Technology

OER Repositories

Amazon Inspire
"Amazon Inspire is a service that provides educators a place to discover, manage, rate, review, and share educational resources".




"We, at CK-12, believe that every child on this planet should have equal access to a great education".


"Members from every country around the world are coming together on this platform to share, collaborate, and connect in order to make the best teaching and learning materials universally accessible and useful".



"A full spectrum of educational resources, activities, and assessments are right at your fingertips. Our online platform was designed so that you can have access to the best available teacher-curated and research-based course materials to personalize for your students and develop into your own curriculum."


My Digital Chalkboard

The Digital Chalkboard is where California educators get connected, collaborate, and share the best practices, best resources, best strategies — you might say the best of the best.​


The National Science Digital Library
A collection within OER Commons database


OER Commons
"OER Commons is a public digital library of Open Educational Resources. Explore, create, and collaborate with educators around the world to improve curriculum".

Open Course Library
A collection of high quality, free-to-use courses that you can download and use for teaching". Developed by the State of Washington.

"Standards aligned K-12 resources, tailored for each student based on assessment results".

Open Stax at Rice University. "Peer Reviewed. Openly Licensed. 100% Free"

Open Up
"Our non-profit's mission: to increase equity in education by making excellent curricula freely available to districts".

Share My Lesson
"Share My Lesson is a destination for educators who dedicate their time and professional expertise to provide the best education for students everywhere. Share My Lesson members contribute content, share ideas, get educated on the topics that matter, online, 24/7."

"​We provide free, standards-aligned resources and immersive training for teachers and leaders in pursuit of equity."


Why OER?

From the US Department of Education Office of Educational Technology

Why use Openly Licensed Educational Resources?

Resources that are openly licensed benefit schools in a number of ways, but most notably they help to:

  • Increase Equity – All students have access to high quality learning materials that have the most up-to-date and relevant content because openly licensed educational resources can be freely distributed to anyone.
  • Keep Content Relevant and High Quality – Traditional textbooks are perpetually outdated, forcing districts to re-invest significant portions of their budgets on replacing them. The terms of use of openly licensed educational resources allows educators to maintain the quality and relevance of their materials through continuous updates.
  • Empower Teachers – Openly licensed educational resources empower teachers as creative professionals by giving them the ability to adapt and customize learning materials to meet the needs of their students without breaking copyright laws.
  • Save Money – Switching to educational materials that are openly licensed enables schools to repurpose funding spent on textbooks for other pressing needs, such as investing in the transition to digital learning. In some districts, replacing just one textbook has made tens of thousands of dollars available for other purposes.

US Dept of Education Office of Educational Technology