Protection and authors' rights


About your author's rights

The distribution of an OER in digital format (for instance under a Creative Commons licence) does not curtail the author's rights but rather enables the author to authorise the public to make certain use of it, while giving him or her the option of restricting its commercial use, derivative works and redistribution conditions.

Should I copyright my resources?

No, because copyright ("all rights reserved") expresses your wish that no-one should re-use or distribute your material without seeking your prior permission. It is therefore contrary to the philosophy of open education. Creative Commons licences, on the other hand, permit re-use of your material subject to the conditions you specify. This is the preferred type of licence for your OERs.

What is a Creative Commons licence?

"A Creative Commons (CC) licence is a legal tool that allows the author to preserve his or her author's rights while facilitating the use that others might wish to make of them, by identifying precisely the permission for use granted. Consequently, rather than universally prohibiting any use without the creator's permission, as is the case with copyright, CC explicitly stipulates the types of use that may be made.... The system of Creative Commons (CC) licences is renowned for its simplicity. The current version of the CC licences [which is supported by] is unified under international law (and has been since November 2013); it is therefore valid whatever the country of origin of the resource."

(translated excerpt from the Guide du formateur : référentiel de compétences en ressources éducatives libres) [Educators' guide: competence reference framework for open educational resources]

"Creative Commons offers licences or standard contracts for making materials available online. Inspired by free licences and the open source and open access movements, these licences facilitate the use of materials (texts, photos, music, websites, etc.). These licences are intended for authors who wish to share and facilitate the use of their creative work by others, authorise no-cost copying and redistribution (subject to certain conditions) [...]"

(translated excerpt from the web page 6 licences gratuites, sur Creative Commons France (CC-BY-SA) [6 free licences, on Creative Commons France (CC-BY-SA)].

These licences therefore identify the rights that you permit in respect of your work:

  • Do you give permission (or not) for it to be used for commercial purposes?
  • Do you give permission (or not) for it to be modified?
  • If the user redistributes it, do you require (or not) that this sharing should be done under the same licence?

Depending on your choice, you will apply a "CC-BY" (the most accommodating), a "CC-BY-ND", a "CC-BY-NC-ND" or other licence to your resource. In all cases, the user must credit you as the author of the work. So, in your resource, give some thought to the exact wording you would like to be used as reference!


Image of the table subject to licence CC-BY-SA. Source: Wikipedia article entitled Licence Creative Commons (in French) (authors) (English version at

Further information about Creative Commons licences