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Open educational resources

MOOCs and other open educational resources

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are about open and free access to education. Once published, a MOOC should be made available open access (ie accessible for free by anyone, anywhere, with internet access).

Using third party copyright material
  • University staff are used to creating course content and using third party copyright material for educational purposes and instruction by relying on a number of exceptions in the Copyright Act and licences obtained by the University. For further information on how these exceptions and licences work, visit For educators.


    Generally, however, you should not rely on these exceptions and licences for your MOOCs and other open educational recourses because they are unlikely to apply to your particular circumstances. Instead, permission should be obtained from the copyright owner of any third party copyright material included in your MOOC or open educational resources (ie permission should be obtained for copyright material not owned by the University).


    A permission request can take months to process and the copyright owner has the right to refuse permission, or grant permission subject to a number of conditions and restrictions (eg the payment of a fee). Allow plenty of time to seek each permission, and have an alternative option if a permission is refused, or if the process is taking longer than expected. For further information on seeking permission, visit Seeking permission.

What content should you use?
  • Since MOOCs and open educational resources can be open to anyone worldwide, we ask that you create the content yourself or, if this is not possible, use copyright material that is made available open access or is in the public domain.


    The Library can help you find open access alternatives to subscription-only books and journal articles, and provide information on open access archiving options if you want to use your own scholarly publications. The Directory of Open Access Journals is a good place to start when searching for high quality open access, peer reviewed journals.


    In some instances, for example, you will be able to find copyright material that is available under a Creative Commons licence that permits your particular use.

Creative Commons and public domain resources
  • Some Creative Commons and public domain resources that may help you find suitable content for your MOOC or open educational resources include:

    • Wikimedia Commons – is a repository of freely available images and media files (either in the public domain or available under a free licence (such as a Creative Commons licence))
    • Pixabay – is a database of free “public domain” images and videos.

    In addition, the CC Search website aggregates search services provided by a number of organisations (eg Flickr, Open Clip Art Library, Wikimedia Commons and Pixabay). This website may help you find suitable material.

Contact Copyright Services to discuss your options
  • Please contact Copyright Services to discuss selecting suitable Creative Commons and public domain material, and your options for obtaining permission to use third party copyright material, in your MOOCs and open educational resources.


This information is provided as general information only. It provides a basic introduction to copyright and is not intended to be comprehensive.