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Copyright: Open Access and Open Educational Resources

This guide provides information (not legal advice) to support NWC community decision-making in the use of copyright protected material in research, learning, and teaching.

Purpose of Guide and Disclaimer

This guide intends to refer NWC community users to accurate information. However, information received from the NWC Library or the NWC Copyright Librarian is neither legal advice/opinion nor legal counsel to the college or any members of the NWC community. Please contact the NWC Office of General Counsel or NWC Staff Judge Advocate's Office for NWC-related legal advice and interpretation of the law, or personal counsel for personal legal advice. The appearance of hyperlinks does not constitute endorsement by NWC of sites or the information, products, or services contained therein, nor does NWC exercise editorial control over the information found at these locations. Such links are provided consistent with the stated purpose of this guide. U.S. copyright law is subject to change.

Open Access

Open Access is a movement that encourages making scholarly resources more freely available over the internet. The goal is to maximize the impact of research (particularly research that has been funded with public money).

"The basic idea of open access is that it makes copyrightable works available without all of the access barriers associated with the 'all rights reserved' model. These can take the form of price barriers and permission barriers. Open access typically comes in two forms. Gratis open access removes price barriers, whereas libre open access additionally removes at least some permission barriers, allowing users to copy, redistribute, and/or adapt a work. Open access contrasts with more traditional models of restricted-access publishing in which copies of works are made directly available only to paying customers" (Understanding Open Access: When, Why, & How to Make Your Work Openly Accessible- A 2015 guide from the Authors Alliance for authors who want to make their works open and widely available, CC-BY).

Open Access Week is a global event where members of the academic and research community teach, learn, and share information about this publishing model.

Open Access Resources

  • Directory of open access books (doab)- "DOAB is a community-driven discovery service that indexes and provides access to scholarly, peer-reviewed open access books and helps users to find trusted open access book publishers. All DOAB services are free of charge and all data is freely available."
  • HowOpenIsIt? A Guide for Evaluating the Openness of Journals (SPARC)
  • OAPEN (Online library of open access books)-  "work(s) with publishers to build a quality-controlled collection of open access books and provide services for publishers, libraries, and research funders in the areas of hosting, deposit, quality assurance, dissemination, and digital preservation" (OAPEN's OA Books Toolkit for publishing researchers).
  • Open Access FAQ- Learn more about the basics of open access from the Authors Alliance (2014). 
  • Open Access Journals Toolkit- Open Access Scholarly Publishing Association (OASPA) and the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) partnership. The toolkit provides useful articles and further reading materials on topics across the journal development lifecycle, from journal creation and funding, staffing, and policy development, through to indexing and key technical aspects.
  • Public Library of Science - (PLoS) Scientists and physicians working to make information freely available.
  • SHERPA/ROMEO - Find information about publishers' copyright policies and authors' self-archiving rights.
  • Taylor and Francis Author Services: What are the gold and green open access publishing options?

Open Educational Resources

Open Educational Resources (OER) are "teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others" (*From The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation).

OER allow users to:

  • Retain – users have the right to make, archive, and own copies of the content
  • Reuse – content can be reused in its unaltered form
  • Revise – content can be adapted, adjusted, modified, and altered
  • Remix – original or revised content can be combined with other content to create something new
  • Redistribute – copies of the content can be shared with others in its original, revised or remixed form (5 Rs from David Wiley).

OER News & Resources

  • Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) Open Educational Resources CLIPP 45 (2021, PDF). ACRL's document that "focuses exclusively on the development and sustainability of open educational resource (OER) initiatives at colleges and small universities by collecting relevant survey data and process documents for the planning, funding, and management of OER initiatives at these institutions."
  • Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) Resource Guide to Open Educational Resources (prototype status): "This guide highlights OER examples from the U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) and some U.S. Government agencies."
  • Georgia State University Library Open Education Research Guide
  • OER at SPARC
  • Teaching Commons A collection of high-quality OER selected by individual campus groups from leading colleges and universities. Resources include textbooks, course materials, lectures, and multimedia for a variety of subject areas.
  • Openly Available Sources Integrated Search (OASIS) An OER search tool that searches over 60 open content sources to find open books, modules, course materials, videos, and interactive simulations. Users may search OER by subject. Results include public domain and openly licensed content.