Traditionally, when anyone creates "anything", they automatically get an "all rights reserved" copyright to their creation. When the creation is something intangible (a creation of the mind) such as music for example, it is automatically protected by intellectual property law, in the same way that "all rights reserved" copyright protects other creations. Creative Commons (CC) is an alternative to this very restrictive copyright protection. CC makes it possible for creators to decide what they want to share (make available in the public domain) and the conditions under which shared creations are made available: as copyright owners, creators can decide what rights to keep and what rights to release so that others can reuse their creation. This Educause resource provides a brief overview of what creative commons is all about.
Creative Commons licenses allow authors to determine how they want to share their creations. These licenses communicate which rights are reserved (if any) and which rights are waived for the benefit of other creators. Creative Commons licenses do not replace copyright, but are based upon it.
This Wikieducator tutorial offers a good explanation of what is free content.
Turning a Learning Resource into an OER
Using CC licensed materials or OER can save you precious time as you work on your course content and provides opportunities to enhance your content with different perspectives or even to build on your content by adding depth and breadth to a learning topic. So, perhaps giving back to the community and contributing your own resources may not be such a bad idea. We encourage you to be active collaborators and contribute to the world of CC. Here's how you can do it: