Authors of an open textbook, or other open educational resource, still own and retain copyright for their work. The difference is they have chosen to release their work using an open license which gives non-exclusive, worldwide, indefinite permissions for others to use her or his work without contacting the author. Creative Commons is the organization that has created the licenses, and legal way, for you to do this.
Dr. David Wiley, of Lumen Learning and Brigham Young University, developed a simple way to explain and remember the permissions granted by an open or Creative Commons license. He calls this the 5Rs framework. The BC Open Textbook Project uses this framework as a guideline when adding new materials and improving existing resources in their collection and eCampusOntario is following its lead. The 5Rs say that users have the right, with openly licensed works, to do the following:
- Retain – That is, no digital rights management (DRM) restrictions, the content is yours to keep, whether you are the author, instructor, or student.
- Reuse – You are free to use materials in a wide variety of ways without expressly asking permission of the copyright holder.
- Revise – As an educator, you can adapt, adjust, or modify the content to suit your specific purposes and make the materials more relevant to your learners. This means making open textbooks and other OER available in a variety of different formats, including source files, when possible.
- Remix – You or your learners can pull together a number of different open educational resources to create something new.
- Redistribute – You are free to share with others so that they can reuse, remix, improve upon, correct, review, or otherwise enjoy your work.
Learn about choosing and applying Creative Commons licenses here.