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Open Educational Resources and Penn State Abington Library

This guide is about Open Educational Resources and support at the Penn State Abington Library


Copyright grants a sets of exclusive rights to creators, which means that no one else can copy, distribute, perform, adapt or otherwise use the work in violation of those rights. This gives creators the ability to control the use of their works by others, thereby incentivizing them to create new works in the first place. Copyright protection begins the minute a creator fixes a work in a tangible medium.

Some examples of copyrightable materials are the creations, translations, adaptations, arrangements, and collections of literary and artistic work. Depending on the country, software, applied art, industrial designs, and models may also be copyrightable. Copyright covers the expression of facts and ideas but not the facts and ideas themselves. 

Copyright is what makes Creative Commons work! The Creative Commons licenses at the bottom of this page are based on copyright but instead of limiting a user's rights, they indicate that a work is meant to be shared and in what manner the author is allowing the sharing. To find out more about copyright, visit

Fair Use

In general, Copyright Law prohibits reproducing and distributing copyrighted works. However, the "Fair Use Doctrine" (Section 107) allows a limited amount of copying for purposes such as teaching and scholarship. In determining whether the use made of a work in a particular case is a Fair Use, the factors to be considered include:

  • The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for non-profit educational purposes;
  • The nature of the copyrighted work;
  • The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyright work as a whole; and
  • The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

Fair Use raises almost as many questions as it answers, and can be a persistent source of concern for teachers.  The most important point to remember is that Fair Use is both a right and a privilege, and does provide a substantial degree of freedom and protection for teachers. However, that freedom is often challenged, and in reality most educational institutions do not have the resources, skill, or will to engage in long and expensive legal battles over this issue. 

The Fair Use Checklist can be helpful in determining whether or not usage falls under fair use.

"OER: Open Educational Resources University of Pittsburgh LidGuide" is licensed under CC BY 4.0

Creative Commons

Creative Commons Licenses are built with a 3-layer design: a legal code, a commons deed, and a machine readable version. There are four elements to CC-Licenses that when combined make up six different licenses. Apply a CC License to make your work re-usable on your terms. The chart explains the different CC licenses and what the licenses allow others to do with your work. Click to view larger image.

Creative Commons Licenses Transcript

Table of Creative Common Licenses

To learn more about the Creative Commons licenses, visit

To learn more about attribution, visit the Attribution Builder in the left column.

"OER: Open Educational Resources University of Pittsburgh LibGuide" is licensed under CC BY 4.0