REA|Monday, December 10, 2018


These are questions and answers about the Open Educational Resources (OER) concept. This session also includes complementary topics to the OER debate, such as the concept of open access and free software, making distinctions when necessary. If you have questions that were not answered below, contact us at and we will try to answer your questions and make them part of this FAQ session, if related.

You can find reading material, presentations and others here.

NOTICE: This FAQ is not intended to give specific legal clarification and, therefore, we do not take any responsibility on decisions you can make based on this document and that have legal impact. In case you have specific legal needs, contact a lawyer.

Acknowledgments: This FAQ was written by Carolina Rossini, who thanks the huge contribution made by Alexandre Abdo. Ni!

  1. What is open education?
  2. What are Open Educational Resources?
  3. Which is supported on the REA?
  4. What are the four freedoms of OER?
  5. What are Open Educational Resources?
  6. All educational resources offered for free are OER?
  7. Must all OER necessarily be free or with free access?
  8. Is the compensation given to the creator of open educational resource when your resource is resold?
  1. Why and for what the OER was created
  2. Can the OER decrease the cost of accessing education or even how much the government spends on didactic material?
  1. What is it and what are the copyright?
  2. What are the moral and patrimonial rights of the author? What can be licensed?
  3. Where can I find information on the reform of the Copyright Law?
  4. Why is it important to understand copyright rights for the development of OER?
  5. When there are no such agreements, would the rights probably still be in the hands of authors and allow them to openly license their works?
  6. What is proprietary content?
  7. What is public domain?
  8. What is meant exceptions and limitations to copyright and what is its relevance to education?
  9. What is the meaning of “Open way Licensed” for open access content?
  10. What is “Utilization and Adaptation Permit for Third Parties” its meaning and requirement implications
  11. What are Creative Common Licenses?
  12. Which are the possible restrictions and liberties of adopting licenses at Creative Commons?
  13. How can I get a license for my work at Creative Commons and which are the available Creative Commons licenses resulting of the above combinations?
  14. Which kind of license becomes an OER creation?
  15. Why restricted creations ND (non- derivative) are not OER?
  16. Which are the consequences of the Non Commercial Restriction?
  17. Which are the consequences of the SA condition (Share-Alike)?
  18. What is the meaning of legal interoperability?
  19. What is open access to scientific publications?
  20. What is free software an what its importance for OER?
  21. Which are the open licensed for software and OER platforms?
  22. What are open technical standards for OER?
  23. What is the meaning of technical interoperability and which is its importance for OER?
  1. What are OER Repositories?
  2. Can you present us OER examples?
  3. What is metadata for OER?
  4. Do the OER searching tools exist?
  1. Can the teachers modify and recombine editorial content of only OER?
  2. t are OER quality resources? Can I trust on OER?
  3. Can I trust at the present time on the OER that I use?
  4. Are the teachers interested ant trained to create and work with OER?
  1. What is the OER cost effectiveness?
  2. Do the OER have cost?
  3. Which is the OER impact on the publishing business?
  1. What is the importance of OER public policies?
  2. Are there public policies that stimulate the OER in Brazil?
  3. Where does the OER public policies examples exist? or OER stimulating laws worldwide?



I.1. What is open education?

According to the Declaration about Open Education from Cape Town, Open Education is an emerging movement in the educational field that combines the tradition of sharing good ideas with fellow educators and the Internet culture, marked by collaboration and interactivity. This method of education is built on the premise that everyone should have the freedom to use, customize, improve and redistribute educational resources without restrictions. Educators, students and others who share this vision are joining in a worldwide effort to make education more accessible and effective.

The global expansion of the collection of open educational resources has created a fertile ground for the effort of open education. These resources include openly licensed materials, lesson plans, books, games, software and other materials to support teaching and learning. They contribute to making education more affordable, especially when the money for the purchase of learning materials is scarce. They also nourish the kind of participative culture, development, sharing and cooperation that societies need, due to the rapid evolution of knowledge that is developing in this culture.

However, open education is not limited only to open educational resources. It is also based on open technologies which facilitate the collaborative and flexible learning and the sharing of teaching practices that empower educators, allowing those to benefit from the best ideas of their colleagues. Finally, it may include open new approaches for evaluation, accreditation and collaborative learning. Understanding and adopting innovations like these is fundamental to the long-term vision of this movement.

There are many obstacles to realizing this vision. Most educators are not yet aware of the existence of a vast and growing body of open educational resources, or do not use them in full. Many governments and educational institutions have no knowledge or are not convinced of the benefits of open education. The differences between the forms of licensing of open resources create confusion and incompatibility. And of course, many regions of the world still lack access to computers and networks that are essential for most of the current efforts to open education.

These obstacles can be overcome, but only if we work together. Read more in Declaration About Open Education of Cape Town.

I.2. What are Open Educational Resources?

OER are materials for teaching, learning and research, fixed on any support provided by the media, which are under public domain or openly licensed, allowing them to be used or adapted by others.

I.3. Which is supported on the REA?

TThese are the main elements of REA: learning content, tools, techniques and resources for implementation.

Learning content: the content itself, as full courses, course materials, topics of content, teaching methods and learning exercises, learning topics, collections, periodicals etc.

Tools: software to support the creation, delivery, use and improvement of open learning content including searching and organization of content, content management systems and learning tools, content development, and online learning communities.

Resources for implementation: the intellectual property licenses to promote open publishing of materials and tools, establish principles and localization of content, such as indexing, archiving etc.

I.4. What are the four freedoms of OER?

The four freedoms minimum of OER – the “4Rs” (review, reuse, remix and redistribute) – are the permissions granted to users who access those resources. They are:

Use: includes the freedom to use the original or the new version created for you based on other OER, in a variety of contexts;

Improve: include freedom to adapt and improve OER to better fit their needs;

Recombine: include freedom to combine and make mixtures and collages of OER with others OER for the production of new materials;

Distribute: include freedom to make copies and share the original OER and the version for you created with others.

Given these four essential freedoms of OER, restrictions as ND (Not derived works) are not acceptable to OER, and restrictions as NC (Non-Commercial) can be problematic.

Educational resources licensed using a Creative Commons license with the restriction ND are not OER.

I.5. What are Open Educational Resources?

Any and all content which is used for educational purposes can be OER. Any books, lesson plans, software, games, reviews, homework, videos, audios, images and other resources understood as educational property essential to the enjoyment of the right of access to education and culture.

The main idea behind the OER is that anything you post may be used and recombined by others, increasing the knowledge of all. As blocks that can be connected by different people in different places and in different ways, to meet a specific need for knowledge.

I.6. All educational resources offered for free are OER?

There is a common misconception that if the content is freely available, it can be considered “open content” or an Open Educational Resource.

This misconception is probably based on a mixture of the concepts of “free” (the English term “free access”) and the concept of “open” (the English term “open access”). This misconception may also be based on the translation of the word “free” from English into Portuguese, which, depending on context, may assume the concept of “free” – as above – or the concept of “free / freedom.”

However, when a user accesses “free” content of “free”, he can only use that content in the exact form that is available – for example, to read on their computer screen. No other right of use and recombination is given to the user of free content. Often such warnings follow accompanied by notes as “todos os direitos reservados” (English term “all rights reserved”), or very restrictive licenses such as Creative Commons type (See more about).

In turn, open educational resources are resources of “open access”, i.e. available by open licenses, less restrictive than a Creative Commons type, that allow several uses. In this case, the author or owner of the respective copyrights for that educational resource decides to share part of their property rights with the society. Therefore we say that OER are learning materials freely available for use, recombination, and redistribution.

In short, all OER are recombinable because access to such educational resources are open, and often they will also be free, but not all materials are free OER.

I.7. Must all OER necessarily be free or with free access?

No, but It is true that most of the projects funded by voluntary contributions and philanthropic institutions or, in cases such as the U.S., publicly funded are of open access and free.

Meanwhile, alongside the philanthropic resources, a series of institutional models of sustainability has been developed.
In some cases, they are based on advertising and remain free access, as well as many OER produced through collective financing.

In other cases, values – generally lower than of resources that are not OER – are charged for access to the unit of OER or for associated services for each print or download to a mobile phone or tablet. Meanwhile, even in these cases, almost always an online version will be free, or will be found free elsewhere.

Here in Brazil and other countries, for example, units of printed books are now sold at more affordable prices and on the back cover contains a Creative Commons license, allowing the copy or the production of derivative works such as translations.
In short, OER has to do with freedoms in relation to rights and not always the gratuity cost.

I.8. Is the compensation given to the creator of open educational resource when your resource is resold?

That will depend on copyright license – and terms that often accompany it – adopted when the author published his OER in own website or other project or repository OER.

Remember that since the work is available over the Internet, the resale will only occur as a result of “value added” by the reseller, or when the fixation on material support offers a purpose in spite of free access on the Internet.

As for licenses, if the license has adopted the restriction “NC” (Non-Commercial use) the general rule is that users cannot use that OER for commercial purposes – such as printing a presentation and reselling it. In this case, anyone interested in exploring the work commercially should contact the author or copyright holder of that work and negotiate a license for that specific business purpose.

If the author has licensed its OER with a more flexible license, like CC-BY or CC-BY-SA, commercial use is permitted and licenses bring no obligation to consideration to the holder of rights of that work.

However, no license prevents the remuneration of the author or copyright holder of the work. Besides the return on non-monetary opportunities and valuing acquired with the popularization of their work, many authors offer their works on sites that promote models of collective financing, voluntary contributions and donations (such as Jamendo – see others in our index), or to sell different versions (such as color, black-and-white, audio, etc.) and various scanning devices, such as mobile phone or tablet (as is the case of U.S. publisher Flat World knowledge).

In such cases, the author and copyright holder of the work are paid regardless of the license.



II.1. Why and for what the OER was created

A brief literature review of OER points to some reasons why OER should be something relevant in daily education:

• To facilitate access of all people to knowledge;
• To ensure the freedom and creativity of production;
• To encourage practices of collaboration, participation and sharing;
• To bring technology into the classroom in a productive way, and plan to promote the idea of authorship between teachers and students;
• To encourage educators and students to be recognized as authors;
• To better enjoy the public resources invested in courseware that will exist if OER is available to the whole society;
• To improve the use of taxes paid by everyone (the public domain);
• To provide access to education to those who are in school and those who are not;
• To improve the content that already exists and allow it to be appropriate and adapted to local regions;
• For a quality education, accessibility and integrating different individual forms of learning;
• To encourage the production of local content;
• To encourage the sharing of learning resources among institutions, academics and within communities of practice;
• To allow the didactic material and other teaching resources to be improved and shared universally – locally, nationally and globally – to support learning;
• To encourage the development and use of tools and processes to support the release of open resources that will improve productivity and relevance by being customizable and adaptable for both academics and students;
• To act as a marketing tool, where students can view resources produced by an institution before deciding to study there;
• To encourage the sharing of learning resources among institutions, academics and communities of practice;
• To allow teaching materials to be improved upon from the sharing and use of them at local, regional and global levels;
• To encourage the development, acceptance and adaptation of tools and open technical standards that have the potential to increase local productivity and be used by teachers and students;
• To serve as a tool of institutional marketing.

II.2. Can the OER decrease the cost of accessing education or even how much the government spends on didactic material?

No doubt the answer is yes, and there is already data available in countries like the U.S. where states like Utah and California have adopted textbooks and OER textbooks are getting organized for about US $5 dollars. Publishers who try to develop or use OER to develop new educational resources have also been able to reduce the cost of college textbooks from $175 to $40. See a discussion on this topic in the USA here.



III.1. What is it and what are the copyright?

The copyrights have the function to protect the creations expressed in literary, musical, scientific and artistic works and its protection occurs from the creation of the work, whether it is a book, a CD, a flash drive, a paper napkin, or on the Internet.

They are regulated by Law No. 610 of 1996 which is currently undergoing extensive renovation. The copyright protection also includes the computer programs (additionally regulated by the Law).

These rights have, in Brazil, two dimensions of protection – the economic and patrimonial/moral – and are divided into two sets of rights – one primary and one secondary or adjacent, i.e., the Copyright itself, and Rights related, concerning the rights of performing artists, producers of phonograms and broadcasting organizations.

These are examples works protected by Copyright: literary works such as books, scientific publications, theses and dissertations, learning objects, musical works as compositions, arrangements, musical performances, dramatic works such as choreography and various pantomimes, performances, plays, screenplays, radio or television, and audiovisual works such as films, videos, video games, maps, globes, geographic charts, technical drawings, etc.

III.2. What are the moral and patrimonial rights of the author? What can be licensed?

The author’s moral rights are provided for in Article 24 of the the Copyright Law of 1996 and are those that unite indissolubly the creator to the work created, emanating from his personality. Some examples are the moral right to: claim at any time the authorship of the work, have its name, pseudonym or conventional sign displayed or announced as the author, in using of the work; keep the work unpublished; ensure integrity of the work, opposing any amendments or acts that might hurt or affect it, as author, in its reputation or honor, and to withdraw from circulation, among others.

The property rights are provided for in Article 28 and 29 of that law, and can be defined as the rights of enjoyment and being unique to the author or owner of the work created and fixed in mechanical support. Monetary rights of copyright are based on the author’s right to use, enjoy and dispose of his work, as well as to authorize its use or enjoyment by others, depending on permission of the author, for reproduction, editing, adaptation, musical arrangement (in the case of musical works), translation, inclusion in a phonogram or audiovisual production, distribution, inclusion in the database and any other form of use existing or may be invented as part of Article 29. The article stipulates that depending on the prior express consent of the author to use of the work for any modalities, such as the complete or partial reproduction, editing, adaptation, musical arrangement and any other changes, the translation into any language; inclusion in phonogram or audiovisual production, the use directly or indirectly, of literary, artistic or scientific work; inclusion in the database, the computer storage, microfilming and other forms of filing of the genre, among others.

For purposes of open licensing of educational resources, what matters is to know who owns the patrimonial rights. If they are alienable (ie, transmitted to third parties), the author often would not be the holder of such rights. They can, however, have them transferred to a publisher. See the question below for more details on licensing. The moral rights always belong to the original author and may not be transferred to third parties.

III.3. Where can I find information on the reform of the Copyright Law?

More information about the reform of the Copyright Law here: Timeline about the Reform here, website analysis of the reform by, blog of the Teacher Pedro Paranaguá about the reform here, Website of the Ministry of Culture about the Reform of the Copyright Law.

III.4. Why is it important to understand copyright rights for the development of OER?

Copyright rights are at the heart of OER. Educational resources such as those mentioned are protected by copyright. If a lesson plan, a book or an educational software provides copyright links to such material, then it is permitted. Thus, before your institution can use such openly licensed resources, you have to know who owns the property rights relating to such resources.

Often the schools inform their teachers, for example, that every original work of those teachers belonged to school. In this case, there was an assignment of rights from the teacher to the school due most likely to an employment contract. Here, the school will hold the property rights so that they can license their textbooks through free licenses.

III.5. When there are no such agreements, would the rights probably still be in the hands of authors and allow them to openly license their works?

The important thing is to have a basic idea of the chain of copyright that covers their materials and assignments or licenses, which happens to determine who owns the rights, and then use them through open licenses such as Creative Commons – discussed below.
Similarly, to know how to integrate OER to their own materials, you will have to understand the property rights granted to it by the owner or author. And it will require some knowledge of copyright. See below for a discussion of legal interoperability.

III.6. What is proprietary content?

Proprietary content is a term used to describe that content, material or resource that has all rights reserved. This is an expression inherited from discussion of Free Software that is opposed to proprietary software. Proprietary software is one whose copying, redistribution or modification is to some extent restricted by its creator or distributor. The term was coined in opposition to the concept of free software. In the context of discussion about OER, an educational resource’s owner is to say, simply, that rights were denied and that this feature is not OER.

III.7. What is public domain?

The copyright lasts, in Brazil, for seventy years counted from January 1 of the year following the death of the author. After this period, the work shall be considered public domain and is free from all limitations of use and recombination, no longer needing a license copyright.
In addition, the works for which the term of the rights exceeded belong to the public as well: those of deceased authors who have left no successors, or unknown authors, except for the legal protection of ethnical and traditional knowledge.
In Brazil, it is not possible to grant the public domain – as in countries like the U.S. So, if you want to release all its rights in relation to a work, the solution is to adopt a more liberal license of Creative Commons, CC-BY.
If you want to deepen the discussion about the public domain and the effects of the Internet we suggest the book of Teacher James Boyle, a founder of Creative Commons.

III.8. What is meant exceptions and limitations to copyright and what is its relevance to education?

The copyright limitations exist for the interests of rights holders of protected works being compounds and suitable the interests of other members of society to have access to culture and education. These limits are consistent with our the Federal Constitution that provides that all property should be guaranteed their social function (Article 5 paragraph XXIII). And is also in line with the international asset protection guaranteed to the copyright by the Berne Convention which was designed in interaction with a series of collective interests, as interest to education, access to information, freedom of the press, the collective interests etc. See the link.

You could say that the limitations to copyright are legal authorizations for the use of third party works protected by copyright, regardless of authorization from the holders of such rights. And since the rule is to prevent the free use of works without the author’s consent, the exceptions provided for LDA by the in Article 46 are interpreted as constituting exhaustive list, ie, there may be no exception if it is not explicitly stated in Article 46 of the LDA. The common denominator of the limitations indicated in art. 46 of the LDA is clearly non-commercial use of the work. Concurrently with this requirement, the law emphasizes the use with an informative, educational and social. See the link.

If you want to learn more about exceptions and limitations, we suggest BRANCO JR., Sérgio Vieira. “Direitos Autorais na Internet e o Uso de Obras Alheias”. Ed. Lúmen Júris, 2007. P. […] (Available here).

III.9. What is the meaning of “Open way Licensed” for open access content?

A picture, a video or an educational resource – or any creation copyrighted protected, can be in an open way licensed and in that way it will be considered as open access. This means that the owner of the creation copyrights decided to share with the society the property rights and the rights of copy, reproduction, redistribution and utilization of the original work for the production of derivative creations, recombination or others. In this way with the use of particular licenses and rights –like the Common Creation the GPL for software- these creations are open for free utilization for the society. This freedom can be wide opened or restricted depending on the license adopted by the owner of the rights of the original creation. Learn more about the Creative Commons licenses.

III.10. What is “Utilization and Adaptation Permit for Third Parties” its meaning and requirement implications?

The Utilization and Adaptation Permit for Third Parties is an essential element for the concept of open educational resources and the result of the open licenses adoption. In this way, the author share with the society parts of the property rights. On the specific case of the open educational resources, the author shares in special the utilizations rights –on wide sense – and adaptation rights like recombination and translation productions and other derivative creations, allowing the crucial freedom for OER (Open Educational Resources): The collaboration and constant improvement of knowledge articulated in a work or creation used for educational purposes.

III.11. What are Creative Common Licenses?

Creative Commons is an American not profit organization, with representation in almost 60 countries, with sponsored legal instruments available and easy to use for anyone, intended for copyright management for the owners and holders of this rights.

Such instruments are called copyright licenses and they are flexible options that guarantee protection and freedom for the authors and artists, leaving behind the idea of “all rights reserved” the traditional copyright management, and stating that “only some rights will be reserved”.

This new form of management opens the potential of uses and permissions related to the protected work, satisfying the collaborating culture of internet, recognizing that the knowledge is something cumulative and universal and even inspiring new profitable business models.

Therefore if I am an intellectual creator, for instance a musician and I want my performing to be freely circulated on the internet, I can decide to license my work by choosing any of the licenses at Creative Commons. Many musicians will do this at for example. With this any person at any country will know that have the right of using this performing according to the selected license.

Take a look at the video “Get creative” for a better understanding of how the licenses work.

III.12. Which are the possible restrictions and liberties of adopting licenses at Creative Commons?

The main components of a license available for authors and creators are listed below. By combining such elements we got 6 different licenses.

  • Assignment : All the licenses at Creative Commons required the credit to be assigned to the author or creator of the work.
  • Not to derivative creations: Per the terms of this option, the author at distributing his creation, does not permit his work to be modified, it must be kept intact, and by being banned for the production of derivative creations, like translations or adaptations, the author’s work cannot be recombined, altered or reissued without the authorization of the creator and must remain always in the same original way that it was distributed.

Note: Remember that when you find a restriction for derivate creations, you still can use the creation in the case that its use snaps up at any of the restrictions and limitations of the copyright.

  • Not commercial use: Per the terms of this option, the author banned any distribution, copy or utilization for commercial purposes. That means that any person that had obtained access to the creation cannot use it for commercial purposes, like sell it in order to obtain profit. Look at the Creative Commons study about the impact of this option here.
  • Sharing by the same license (Share-a like): By the terms of this option, the author imposes a condition if its creation will be used for the production of derived creations like for example a book translated in to other language or one picture included in a book, or even cases in that the work is included as part of a new creation, the final result must be shared by the same license. Then a licensed creative work under the alternative “Sharing by the same license” can only be used in other creations if these creations are also licensed with the same license at Creative Commons. Creating this way a viral effect of free licensing at copy left tradition.

For more information and to license your creative work visit Creative Commons.

III.13. How can I get a license for my work at Creative Commons and which are the available Creative Commons licenses resulting of the above combinations?

In order to get a license for your creation at target=”_blank”>Creative Commons you just need to answer a few questions at the Creative Commons site, and your license will be generated automatically.

Of the combination of the above options, an automatic process when you answered the mentioned questions, there are 6 available licenses:

Attribution (by)
This license is the most accommodating of the range of options. In the term of this license the utilization of the creative work is free, allowing the commercial use or the production of derived creations from an original work. It is essential to give the credit to the original author.
Attribution – Non Commercial (by-nc)
According to this license the author allows wide utilizations of his work; however it is limited by the impossibility of obtaining commercial advantage. It is also essential to give the credit to the author of the original creative work.
Attribution – Share a like (by-sa)
When the author decides to compromise with this license it will be intended to get credit for the creation of his work, and as well that the derivative creations will be licensed under the same terms as in their own creation. This license is compared to the licenses for free software.
Attribution – Derivative Creations Forbidden (by-nd)
This license allows the redistribution, commercial or non-commercial only if the creative work is used without any alterations at all. It is also essential to give the credit to the author of the original creative work.
Attribution – Non Commercial – Share A like (by-nc-sa)
This license doesn’t allow the commercial use, but the creation will be available for redistribution or production of derivatives work as long as the new creations will be licensed under the same terms as in the original creative work.
Attribution – Non Commercial – Derivative Creations forbidden (by-nc-nd)
This is the less permissive license of the range offered to the author, it only allow the redistribution. By adopting this license not only is forbidden the commercial use, but also is unable to be used for the production of derivative creations. Given the nature of this license is usually called license of “free advertisement”.

III.14. Which kind of license becomes an OER creation?

Any license that follows as four concessions defined by the Open Educational Resources becomes an OER creation. However it is highly recommended the use of some variations of the Creative Commons licenses, because they offer a legal text revised internationally by attorneys that standardize the conditions and restrictions. No even all the Creative Commons licenses still become an OER creation.

A license universally considered as adequate for OER is known as “Creative Commons Attribution”, because it doesn’t impose any condition or restriction for its utilization, upgrade, reproduction or recombination of the creation with the exception of the attribution of the credit to the author with the original creation.

III.15. Why restricted creations ND (non- derivative) are not OER?

Some of the Creative Commons licenses impose a restriction that prevents the production of derivative creations. These licensed do not become an OER creation.

Forbidding the production of derivative creations prevents the implementation of half of the concession associated with the notion of Open Educational Resources. These creations cannot be neither upgraded nor are recombinated, inhibiting this way the basic educational benefits whereby the OER intended for.

The Non –derivatives restriction is also so difficult, that event the utilization and distribution are limited, on the case on they can be interpreted as derivative product or when it is necessary to transform the creation to a nontrivial form in order to use it in a new way or distribute it as part of a collection.

III.16. Which are the consequences of the Non Commercial Restriction?

Some of the alternatives frequently used for the Creative Commons licenses are the ones that have the “Non-commercial use “restriction.

These alternatives are not recommended for OER, because they try to anticipate and restrict the possible utilization of the resources, without considering the social benefits that the OER look forward to promote. Nevertheless since they offer at some level of concessions expected from an OER they are usually presented as Open Educational Resources.

Despite of the fact of being apparently simple, the Non-commercial restriction reduces significantly the social utility of the creative work. We present below some examples of the problems of this restriction:

• The creation won’t be able to be recombined at Wikimedia, the bigger and most accessed repository for OER that exists. This problem is running at other free knowledge deposits, held by Wikipedia Foundation, Open knowledge Foundation, Free knowledge Institute and others.
• The creation also won’t be able to incorporate the content of big part of these repositories, particularly Wikipedia, because most of them use de Share-a like license.
• The creation cannot be distributed as integral part of free educational software, because not any of the free software licenses admits this restriction.
• The creation cannot be distributed even by a nonprofit organization, for sale even at the average price of the printed versions or digital support, making difficult the access especially for people who live in regions where the internet access is expensive, or in general where the access of education is not good. In other words, for the main beneficiaries or the OER.
• The creative work cannot be distributed or preserved in any condition that depends of rent associated to its access, like sites or blogs that use advertising in order to pay the server or the band; or organizations that sale items on which the creation is included.
• The creation cannot be incorporated at any handicraft product, like a game, educational tool or piece which the production cost or even the material could make necessary the commercial circulation.
• In short, the Non-commercial restriction avoid that the market, the main productive force of the modern society, gets any part at upgrading, distribution or preservation of the creative work.

Note that every activity above described generates the nonexistence of the Non-commercial restriction as a project interested on investing on the upgrade and diffusion of the Open Educational Resources, feeding back the community and multiplying the social benefits underlined by OER.

Despite of these problems, this restriction gets some popularity, not only for unrecognizing the problems but also by the spread belief that the non-commercial restriction protects the author from exploitation related whit profitable activities and it fights the capitalism. But the economical reality is very different:

• The restriction concerns the purpose of the commercial activity and not to its origin; therefore projects with profit or nonprofit purposes are limited in the same way and for the same uses.
• In a society where the services sector is the matrix of the economy, the simple disclosure of the authorship, required by the Attribution condition already provides the author with a return for his work in the form of economic opportunities, the greater diffusion of the creation the grater the value for exploitation of the creation.
• The liberties and concessions expected from the OER, in the absence of this restriction, can guarantee the universal access to the creation and stimulate the competition allowing an efficient economic exploitation, making difficult the monopoly and maximizing the offer of Educational Resources at good prices, when they are not available for free for the society benefit as a whole.
• On these cases the institutions that are more capable of dealing with the transaction cost and negotiate all the associated permits of a creation are the big corporations; therefore the Non-commercial restriction still causes the reinforcement of monopolies and oligarchies.
• The non-commercial restriction promotes logic of knowledge property, quite the opposite of a good shared by all the humanity. Philosophically it represents even more than the Non-derivative restriction, the incapacity of overcoming the governmental representation -through the copyrights- in order to restrict the access of education.
• There are yet licenses that combine the NC restriction with the SA, resulting at the same terms of the BY-NC-SA. This license, as is to be expected, has all the problems of the NC restriction intersected with the positive and negative consequences of the SA condition.

III.17. Which are the consequences of the SA condition (Share-Alike)?

The condition of sharing the same license, known as copyleft was borne as a reinforcement mechanism for free software intended to guarantee the availability of future contributions of derivative collaborative creations.

Even though it has the big advantage of guarantying that derivative creations will be also on the same license in order to be owned by the community without previously restrict any concessions; there some reasons that need to be known on which the SA cannot be desirable.

This occurs when the defense of concessions has minor benefits than the unconditional appropriation of the creation. Is the case of scientific articles on which the main interest: the progress and access to science is obstructed by the conditions of reutilization on the license. That happens because the even with the concessions of the licenses for derivative creations, the ideas contented on them are free. When these ideas are restricted, by other system different of the patents, the Creative Commons licenses do not have any influence.

The open educational resources, are in the middle of the road between scientific articles where the by license is preferred, and software people prefers by-sa licenses. As a result the author must consider the case if collaborative creations or the sustainability of the communities.

Both Wikimedia and the Open Knowledge Foundation, or the Free knowledge Institute consider that both licenses BY and BY-SA make an Open Educational Resource.

An important problem to consider related to the condition BY-SA is the compatibility of incorporation in other creations with other licenses. Creations on the BY license only can be recombined with other creations on the license BY-SA, BY-NC and even the BY-NC-SA but the resulting creation must be necessarily the license of the second creation. Yet the creations on the license BY-SA can only be recombined as creations on the license BY-SA. For this reason many people prefer the BY license, because it is more accurate with the Open Educational Resources definition.

III.18. What is the meaning of legal interoperability?

Legal interoperability means the compatibility between the rights attributed to third parties with open licenses, like the ones at Creative Commons that follow the different creations that the user allows to apply or recombine. This compatibility is essential for making possible the mixing of OER, the production of new OER from existing OER, the adaptation of OER, the inclusion of OER on materials Non-OER or repositories and collections and the OER recombination.

Find here the table of Legal Interoperability at Creative Commons.

Like this, when developing an OER it is ideal always use the less restrictive license possible compatible with the project or institution mission. For OER financed with public resources or the OER-Project-Brazil, is indicated the use of the CC-BY. This license is the one that allows the greater level of utilization freedom by individuals, public or private agents all part of the society.

III.19. What is open access to scientific publications?

According to the Budapest Declaration, the “open access” to literature, should be understood as the free and open availability on the internet, allowing any user the reading, downloading, copy, printing, distribution or searching as a link with the complete content of its articles and the indexing as well for any other legal purpose. On the acquaintance of organizations that support the open access, financial, legal or technical barriers should not exist, only the necessary ones for the internet connection. The only constraint for reproduction or distribution must be the author control over the integrity of his creation and the right of proper quotation.
More about open access here and join the Brazilian blog.

III.20. What is free software an what its importance for OER?

“Free software” is a matter of freedom not price. In order to understand the concept you have to think about “freedom of speech”, not in “free beer”.

“Free software” refers to freedom for the users to execute, copy, distribute, study, modify and refine the software. More precisely, it refers to the four concessions or freedoms for the software users:

  • Freedom 0 – Freedom of execute the program for any purpose;
  • Freedom 1 – Freedom for study how the program works, and adapt it to the own needs. The access to the source-code is prerequisite for this freedom;
  • Freedom 2 – Freedom of redistribution of copies so that you can help your neighbor;
  • Freedom 3 – Freedom of refining the program and freedom of its improvements so that the whole community benefits. The access to the source-code is prerequisite for this freedom.

A Program is free software is the users have all these liberties and Freedoms.
According to the OER definition there is a preference for the implementation of OER through platforms and free formats. This way, the free software is one of the main elements that allows the development, distribution, adoption and access to OER now and in the future.

Learn more here. Some free educational software, (look at the list here and suggest more, there are softwares free to use but are not free under the terms above described. The list is just the beginning). See also and help with the projects GNU education and Linux educational.

III.21. Which are the open licensed for software and OER platforms?

There are several licenses for free software available, like GNU project, BSD, Apache, but not even in all the licenses or their versions are compatible or interoperable with each other. Then when you use the code of different free softwares make sure that the codes are under compatible licenses so you can recombine them. See the list of licenses and the compatibilities with GPL here.

III.22. What are open technical standards for OER?

Open technical standards are other form of referring to free software for OER. But the term has a wide meaning because it refers to the need of freedom of access to other OER elements like metadata for facilitate the indexing, filing, harvesting, open repositories, etc. That means that all logic and content technical layers, of the development and distribution must be open and free.

III.23. What is the meaning of technical interoperability and which is its importance for OER?

Technical interoperability means the capacity for two systems alike or different for interoperate, communicate and exchange date and information using the same or compatible communication protocol. The utilization of the free software facilitates the achieving of technical interoperability because it allows the developers to mix and join codes and achieve technical interoperability.

For OER the importance of technical interoperability regards to how easy or not is the use and recombination of files and the communication between platforms where OER can be created, deposited and shared.
In this way, two levels of technical interoperability interest us:

• The technical interoperability per se – that is generally associated with the components, systems or platforms of hardware/software that allow the communication machine to machine. This type of interoperability is many times centered by protocols and infrastructure necessary for the operation.
• The syntactic interoperability – that is generally associated with the transportation format included in the use of transference languages of information like HYML, XML or ASN. (Look at the link).



IV.1. What are OER Repositories?

Institutional repositories are simply databases kept for research and education institutions with excellent content for that community. One of de platforms more used for the construction of these repositories is DSpace.

OER Repositories are data banks where OER are deposited and indexed. Many of these repositories allow more functions like the own creation or recombination of OER, being thus more complex projects, as Conexxions. Not yet an exhausting list of OER repositories exists, but find more examples of Projects in Brazil and the World here Projetos no Brasil e o Mundo.

For a list and more information about open repositories for books, scientific publications and others (open access repositories) look the OpenDOAR directory.

IV.2. Can you present us OER examples?

YES! Look at this page for a list of OER developed at Brazil and the world Brasil e o Mundo.

IV.3. What is metadata for OER?

They are model of data, normally codified in XML, used to describe an object of learning and other digital resources used to support the learning. The purpose of metadata is to support the reuse, the discovery, and to facilitate the technical interoperability of educational objects, generally in the context of learning systems of online management (LMS).

See more in the page of the Creative Commons for the creation of one OER sharing infrastructure here. Creative Commons para a criação de uma infraestrutural para compartilhamento de REA.

VI.4. Do the OER searching tools exist?

Yes! But is always better, looking for more than one or to go directly to an OER project in order to find resources. Therefore you can start to search OER on the page OER projects in Brazil and the World. Projetos REA no Brasil e no Mundo.
For a wide list of OER searching tools look the Curriki Blog or Dynamic OER searching tools by DiscoveryEd.

Find other tips at the OER notebook: A notebook for teachers OER-UNICAMP.



V.1. Can the teachers modify and recombine editorial content of only OER?

If you adopt an open license OER you you will be able to modify it, to recombine it or always to improve it according to the class necessities or regional necessities. This is because the open licenses that follow the OER give you such freedoms.
In such a way, the possibility of educators, students or other members of the society to modify or to recombine a content does not depend on the author, the source of that content and nor neither of the possibly involved cost in the intended modification. But it depends on the terms of the license and copyrights that carries a certain educational resource – that means, of the utilization restrictions established by the holder < of the patrimonial copyrights on that creation> when publishing or making the creation available to the public as part of a contract.

These licenses go along with the content, they are published as utilization of a certain repository or site, or they are arranged in the purchasing contract clauses of that content or service.

The simple phrase “all rights reserved” already indicates that the user does not possess any right beyond reading that information in its computer screen or for using the creation between the permitted uses by exceptions or limitations.
Many times such restrictions also can be higher than the stated rights on the very copyright law and create contractual restrictions for the involved parts in the transaction. One example of this clause is the one used on the contract of Elsevier and the world universities for access to the scientific magazines edited by this firm.

In the same direction, the majority of didactic books bought by the Brazilian government and distributed in the púbicas schools comes with the acknowledgment of “all rights reserved” and they do not allow that the educators modify such content.
Exceptions are the public books results of the Project Laves of the Paraná and the opened didactic books of the City department of São Paulo, as Decree 52681/2011.

Within the OER discussion, many resources available for free do not allow that the user create derivative creations, recombine it or adapt or neither contribute of the content improvement. On this way they are not OER and the teachers are not authorized for adapting such contents to the classroom necessities. Look < here FAQ> for discussion about OER and gratuity.

Models of free access developed by publishing companies do not allow the user, educator or student, to make modifications or to create derived creations. However, currently some educational publishers like Pearson are launching commercial products that allow teachers and students to modify , and to recombine OER as well (those that do not have the “NC” restriction on the open license). Systems like’s Sky and Pearson’s Online Learning Exchange (OLE) are examples of supporting platforms for these models of hybrid content.

V.2. But are OER quality resources? Can I trust on OER?

You can trust much or more on OER as you trust on educational content owners OER, despite of allowing the collaboration between an infinite number of teachers, students or volunteers, they are mostly elaborated by minor groups of educators or volunteers that joint together in order to elaborate content for its own matters, classes or preferred themes and decided to open that content on the web. A classic example is the content of Academia Khan, or the resources of MITOpenCourseWare.

Many OER Projects in Brazil and the World are innovating in order to guarantee their resources quality. For example the Connexions “lenses” in which education institutions filter, analyze and improve their content and others and give its approval in relation of the quality and reliability of such contents placing their brand with a quality seal that OER group that reviewed. Many didactic open books resulting from Connexions were adopted by the top-10 American and Asian universities like Harvard and others. At the beginning of 2012, Connexions released OpenStax, a project focused on the development of open didactic books from material deposited at Connexions for university courses.

In the same sense, many OER publishing houses –with or nonprofit organizations- are preparing their books based on programs approved by the government and ubjecting such books to the traditional review and governmental adoption process like the case of the project Parana Leaves (recall that the state obtained the best grades in the national assessment in 2010) or even American publishers like CK-13 – that had theirs books adopted by the California and Washington governments.
But it is important to remember that, in relation to both the use of OER content as the responsibility of the content approval, the reliability and efficacy are on the teacher hands.

Quality assessment criteria may include elements like: researching resources that support the educational resource; the instructional design and pedagogy; the scope and sequence; accuracy and adjustability; the potential for student engagement; effectiveness in learning and results shown by the students; among other things. In evaluating the quality, OER as any content owner, needs to be evaluated individually on their intended educational use.

Keep in mind that also that while some OER are developed by a traditional quality control process many times editorial, that address all or some of the above criteria, other OER are created on a less systematic way based on a wide and diverse volunteer community –like the case of .

In such cases people believes that many eyes and hands can improve with the time an article content for instance. But even Wikipedia released initiatives and partnerships with Universities for the teachers to adopt and improve these articles that will serve as reference on the area – initiative Wikipédia on Education.

V.3. Can I trust at the present time on the OER that I use?

As with the content, a book or other didactic material that is purchased from a publishing house, the degree to which the OER content is current or update depends on the model used by the publisher or the OER provider. But like OER is open to collaboration from everybody, updating an outdated stuff does not need to wait for editorial cycles of 2 or 3 years.

On the case of OER, many authors of the projects that make available OER feell the responsibility of keeping their content updated, like the case of OER projects that provide open textbooks. In this case there is a centralized content update and new versions are published. In other cases the OER are open for update, correction or improvement at platforms that allow any user to edit in the act, such as the platform Connexions. Other despite of forbidding the direct update for any user, they have direct communication channels with the author for the suggestions to be sent and allow the user to copy or download the OER for updating, improvement or changing according to their needs.

In all this case, that means that when any popular revolution changes the leadership in Egypt or when Pluto loses its classification as planet, any person can modify and update immediately such information in OER. All this collaboration for the improvement of the OER is possible because of the guaranteed permissions of the open licenses that OER carry..

V.4. Are the teachers interested ant trained to create and work with OER?

Many teachers of all over the world already engaged on the construction and utilization of OER, as it is demonstrated on OER Projects in Brazil and the World. This engagement may from the individual or from the Education or Research Institution. On both cases, the first step is to determine that all of educational resources produced by educators, investigators or even students, on normal day work, will be open licensed as OER and deposited at an institutional repository – or OER bank at an existing project in Brazil or the World- accessible for society.

On these cases the training on construction and utilization of OER can be for professional development on the use of new technologies and innovation in educational methodology.



VI.1. What is the OER cos effectiveness?

As discussed above, many OER , including textbooks, or with more accessible prices than the equivalent . Another important point to recall is that –when digital- the OER reproduction cost are almost zero. And exactly by being digital they may reduce distribution and logistics costs, because they can be printed on demand near the site of application. The fact that the OER present clearly the ways in which they can be used –open license – reduces or finishes the cost and time spent negotiating complicated models of owner license. As open license it also allows that any user can improve or update that OER, less needs to be investment in upgrading or purchasing new versions.

Reed the research “A Sustainable Model for OpenCourseWare Development” by David Wiley about cost and sustainability of OER. It also brings a wide revision of the literature about the debate related of OER cost.

VI.2. Do the OER have cost?

OER, like other educational content, owner or not, has production cost. However, when the production of educational resources is already part of your daily life as an educator, provide its appeal as OER does not increase the production cost. Being the use ant improvement of the OER by peers and users, the decision of providing their content as OER may reduce the production cost of the educational resource –because now an unrestricted group of collaborators have volunteered for keeping, improving and adapting the OER. Because of that a lot of research has shown that the adoption of OER has the potential of increasing the investment return made initially at the creation.

At some OER projects , volunteers teachers and students donate time for the creation of an open educational resource, like at some actions of the south African project Siyavula. (Look at the Siyavula Method report here). In other case of Harvard doctoral students and MIT are paid by hour modic values to the construction of an open text book to be edited ant published by the recently created house BondlessLearning.

There are many models, but all of them have in common les creation and maintenance costs.

We remember also that the creation costs of OER are less because they can be created based on free softwares like Moddle, published and deposited on common platforms like Connexions or Teachers Portal- other Projects in Brazil and the World, bringing down to zero institutional or individual costs related to the operational systems licensing, content development soft wares and hosting cost.

See also:
● Green, Soares e Wiley (2012) – “How Open Education Resources Unlock the Door to Free Learning”
● Wiley, David (2007) – “A Sustainable Model for OpenCourseWare Development”

VI.3. Which is the OER impact on the publishing business?

Like it happened on the music and video business, the internet made possible new ways for the creation and distribution of content. It also demanded the enterprises creativity for generating value to their users. Online advertisement was the obvious response for some models that were born with the internet –as Google. But is not an ideal solution for books –because it is often invasive. The charge for content units – like a song, a scientific article or a book chapter has to be shown achievable for some publishing houses as complementary model.

On the OER field the open business model means that the central content of an educational resource is available for free as OER for the customer. On this sense one of the established models is the Flat World Knowledge. This American publisher provides their books –prepared by respected authors and experts – open on their site and they sell different versions and formats. The authors of the text books provided by Flat World Knowledge receive royalties coming from the sales of the different book formats.

As supplementary readings we recomend:



VII.1. What is the importance of OER public policies?

The understanding of that many times we pay twice for the same educational resources –when paying taxes or to stop receiving benefits coming from taxes when the company gets tax exception , like the case of publishing houses and paying again when purchase a textbook- make us think if we do not need a clear public policy that encourages the adoption, investment and preference for OER on purchases and government projects. About this discussion see the research of GPOPAI-USP and the green book about Prospects and Chalenges of OER in Brazil.

The perception of that OER, by stimulating to the use of educational technologies, collaboration and coauthorship, means innovation and a way of effective digital inclusion that must be part of the professional training program for teachers, also leads us to the conclusion that a public policy that encourages the OER adoption is mandatory on the information society.
Still, the understanding of governmental projects to the provision of educational resources must be accessible and with clear policies of intellectual and technological property that emphasize the technical and legal interoperability and make it easier for users –teachers, students and the society in general – determines that the government adopts public policies for the development and investment on these projects.

Moreover, s determined on the document UNESCO-COL Guidelines for Open Educational Resources (OER) in Higher Education, the government’s role is to:
● Encourage and support the use of OER by a revision of the Universities regulations;
● Contribute to the generation of OER knowledge.
● Review and adapt their policies of TICs strategies for the superior education, in order to include the OER on their priorities.
● Review the licensing policies for contents produces by the government, departments, financial agencies and researching institutions.
● Support the collaborative production and the sharing of educational resources.

There are many arguments in favor of the public policies for OER. Joint this debate!

VII.2. Are there public policies that stimulate the OER in Brazil?

Yes, joint here the OER law project that is on the Congress and the legislative assembly of São Paulo, send your comments and suggestions for the text improvement!

Read here about the OER Decree of São Paulo, in force since 2011.

VII.3. Where does the OER public policies examples exist? or OER stimulating laws worldwide?

Counties like USA, Australia, New Zeeland, Netherlands, United Kingdom, China and others have laws, policies and governmental projects of OER incentive. For adoption of textbooks to OER government portals, such policies vary in content and impact.

See for instance the speech of Martha Kanter, Under Secretary of Education USA, about the efforts of this country in the area.