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University of Wyoming - Libraries

OER & Copyright


OER & Copyright

A defining part of Open Educational Resources (OER) is that the materials either exist in the public domain or have been released under a license that permits reuse and adaptation. Not all free resources are actually OER and it is important to be aware of this distinction as you consider how you want to create, reuse, and adapt educational resources.

Dr. David Wiley, of Lumen Learning, developed the 5Rs framework to explain and remember permissions granted by an open license. This framework is a good guideline and if we are unable to practice any of the 5Rs with a resource it may not be open. The 5Rs outline that users have the right, with openly licensed material, to do the following:

Retain - Make, own, and control copies of the content
(e.g., download, duplicate, store, and manage)

Reuse - Use the content in a wide range of ways
(e.g., in a class, in a study group, on a website, in a video)

Revise - Adapt, adjust, modify, or alter the content itself
(e.g., translate the content into another language)

Remix - Combine the original or revised content with other material to create something new
(e.g., incorporate the content into a mash-up)

Redistribute - Share copies of the original content, your revisions, or your remixes with others
(e.g., give a copy of the content to a friend)


Creative Commons licenses are the most frequently used for open resources. These licenses make it easy to highlight how others may use resources you create. For more details about Creative Commons licensing, see licensing considerations.

Creative Commons licenses are free and no registration is required to use a license with your work. Choose your license here! These licenses come in come in a variety of options, depending on the permissions creators want to retain or grant others.

Openness Spectrum by Cable Green
| | CC BY