Open materials are any material provided with an open license. You can use an open license to indicate what other people are allowed to do with your work.
Each work is automatically protected by copyright, which means that others will need to ask permission from you as the copyright owner.
Open licenses let you easily change your copyright terms from the default “all rights reserved” to “some rights reserved”. They are legal tools to give permission in advance to share and use your work – on conditions of your choice.
There are many open licenses developed for different areas of knowledge. When it comes to open learning materials the most common open licenses used are Creative Commons Licenses. The most open license is CC0, indicating that the work is released in the public domain and is free of known copyright restrictions.
Creative Commons licenses
There are six different Creative Commons licenses: CC BY, CC BY-SA, CC BY-NC, CC BY-ND, CC BY-NC-SA, CC BY-NC-ND. The letter pairs indicate conditions for use. CC BY is the most open license. It allows the user to redistribute, to create derivatives, such as a translation, and even use the publication for commercial activities, provided that appropriate credit is given to the author (BY) and that the user indicates whether the publication has been changed. CC BY-SA is also an open license. The letters SA (share alike) indicate that the adjusted work should be shared under the same reuse rights, so with the same CC license. NC (non-commercial use) and ND (no derivative works) are conditions that make the CC licenses more restrictive and thus less open.
The figure below shows a good overview of what each license permits you to do.
In Open Access Publishing and in Open Digital Teaching Materials CC licenses are commonly used.
For more information, visit the website Creative Commons, About the licenses.