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Licensing, Copyright, and Public Domain


Licensing considerations
Understanding U.S. Copyright law can be challenging, especially in the digital environment. Exemptions exist for classroom teaching, libraries, and online learning, but these can be tricky to figure out and apply properly.
  • Option One: use works in the public domain
  • Option Two: use works with Creative Commons licensing, which offers varying degrees of permissions
What is public domain?
The term "public domain" encompasses materials for which:
  • U.S. government publications
  • Works published prior to 1925
  • Copyright owner has intentionally and explicitly "dedicated" it to the public domain
  • Works published by a single author after 1977, the copyright will not expire until 70 years after the author’s death
What is Creative Commons?

A nonprofit organization that enables the sharing and use of creativity and knowledge through free legal tools

From the Open Educational Resources (OER) LibGuide by Heather Blicher​