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Tips & Tricks

Guide to Using Third Party Materials

In face-to-face classroom settings, copyright law broadly permits the performance or display of copyrighted works.  In the context of Open Education resources made publicly available online, however, the ability to use others’ copyrighted works becomes more limited.

You can help to minimize copyright issues by taking the following steps:

(1) PROVIDE ATTRIBUTION & SOURCE INFORMATION

When incorporating images or other material that is owned by third parties, please include information about:

  • To whom the material should be attributed
  • Where you obtained the material (e.g. a URL)

This information can either be placed on the slide itself or in the “Notes” field.


(2) USE MATERIALS IN THE PUBLIC DOMAIN OR LICENSED FOR RE-USE

When possible, use materials that are either:

  • In the public domain – a public domain work is not protected by copyright (either because the copyright term has expired or the work was never copyrighted) and may be freely used by everyone.

As a general rule, works published in the U.S. before 1923 are in the public domain.
Works created by the U.S. government are also in the public domain.  You can locate U.S. government photos and images at USA Gov

  • Licensed for re-use – licensing mechanisms such as Creative Commons and the GNU General Public License allow for copyrighted works to be re-used without specific permission from the copyright holder.  Website terms and conditions also may explain whether and how content may be re-used.

Where to search

You can search for materials in the public domain or licensed for re-use using:



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