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Affordable Learning Solutions: Copyright

Cal State Fullerton's guide to lowering the cost of course materials!

Copyright Glossary


Items that are copyrighted or licensed may NOT be used or reused, except for certain situations, unless you have permission from the copyright holder (or terms are laid out in a Creative Commons license that is assigned to the work). You automatically hold copyright for any original works that you create. Download a PDF handout of Copyright Basics.

Public Domain

Items in the public domain are NOT copyrighted and may be used or reused however you wish. Read more about Public Domain works.

Fair Use

"Fair Use" is a legal doctrine that allows unlicensed use of copyrighted materials in certain situations with limitations, including parody, commentary, and educational use. As an educator, you already make decisions about how you reuse copyrighted or licensed work in your classes. Read more about reusing licensed works under Fair Use.​

Creative Commons

Creative Commons (CC) licenses assigned to a work by the copyright-holder specify how the work may be used or reused, and you do not have to contact the copyright holder UNLESS you want to use the work for a purpose forbidden by the license. Anyone may assign a CC license to their work. If you use, reuse, or adapt a CC-licensed work, you MUST attribute the creator, link to the source material, and adhere to the CC license terms. Read Frequently Asked Questions about CC.

Copyright or Wrong?

It's important to know the basics of copyright and Creative Commons licenses before you reuse someone else's work!

Major concepts to know:

  • Copyright/Licensed
  • Public Domain
  • Fair Use
  • Creative Commons

Above video by Dr. Kyle Stedman, Rockford University. View at

Creative Commons

Creative Commons logoCreative Commons licenses are the most commonly assigned licenses to Open Educational Resources. You MUST attribute CC-licensed or copyrighted materials appropriately. You don't HAVE to attribute public domain or uncopyrighted work, but doing so anyway will allow others to locate the original work.

CSUF Intellectual Property Rights

Tuffy Titan dressed as a scholarFaculty at CSUF are free to assign Creative Commons licenses to their work as they wish, designating them OER.

"Unless there is a separate individual agreement, faculty own the intellectual property they produce while here, but the University reserves the right to use the intellectual property as it sees fit, even after the faculty member leaves." (A. Davis, personal communication with L. O'Neill, October 14, 2015).

See article 39 in the CFA collective bargaining agreement.