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Open Access

Open Access Resources or Open Educational Resources are “teaching, learning and research materials in any medium, digital or otherwise, that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits no-cost access, use, adaptation and redistribution by others with no or limited restrictions. Open licensing is built within the existing framework of intellectual property rights as defined by relevant international conventions and respects the authorship of the work” (UNESCO 2012).

Creative Commons Licensing

Creative Commons is an open access licensing approach which enables copyright owners to license their work in a way which allows some freedom for others to use, modify and distribute in ways defined by the licence type.

There are six different Creative Commons licences, see the following website for a full summary of each of them - Creative Commons - About the Licences.

Licence Compatibility

When choosing to include a resource in your learning and teaching material that has an open access licence, incompatibilities with future licensing of the learning and teaching material you are producing should be considered.

For example, if items with a “Share Alike” attribution are used to produce learning and teaching materials, the resulting work must be distributed under a "Share Alike" licence.

To assist with this issue, Creative Commons has created a Compatibility Wizard

Finding Open Access and Creative Commons resources

General searches



Clip Art





Learning Resources

Remember that you must change the settings (usually in the advanced search area) to limit your search to Creative Commons licensed material.

It is also important to check that the original creator uploaded the material. This can sometimes be difficult to ascertain, especially with media items. If the item has been uploaded by a reputable organisation or person, then usually they are the copyright owners. For example, a clip on the BBCWorldwide channel on YouTube is copyrighted by the BBC and safe to link to; however, material uploaded by, for example, Fan of BBC, is not.If in doubt, you should contact the person who uploaded the item in question or the Copyright Information Officer.

Creative Commons Attribution

When making use of a Creative Commons licensed item, it is important to give it a correct attribution.

Attribution of a single item

The recommended approach to attributing a Creative Commons Licence to a resource is -

Author, Title of item (website address of item), used under a Creative Commons Attribution [List Licence number] (link to Creative Commons Attribution website)

For example any of the following attributions are appropriate when using this image -

Copyright Jigsaw image

Varlan, Horia, Large copyright sign made of jigsaw puzzle pieces (, used under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 (

Varlan, Horia, Large copyright sign made of jigsaw puzzle pieces, used under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.

Varlan, Horia, Large copyright sign made of jigsaw puzzle pieces  Creative Commons Attribution CC BY icon

Attribution of a collection of Creative Commons licensed items (e.g. in a Powerpoint)

There is the choice of two recommended approaches in this circumstance -

  1. Full attribution underneath each OA image/resource (using approaches outlined in the example above)
  2. Under each Creative Commons licensed item, display the relevant Creative Commons icon. At the end of the presentation or document, supply a full attribution list in order of use.