Skip to Main Content



Open Educational Resources (OER)

Information about using open educational resources (OER) at Red Deer Polytechnic.

Intellectual Property at RDP

At Red Deer Polytechnic, faculty retain ownership of all intellectual property created for: 

  • their teaching, research, and academic work
  • the delivery of their assigned courses (regardless of the format or method of delivery)
    • Including lecture material (e.g. presentation slides, lecture videos, lecture recordings), practice assignments, handouts, question sets, etc.

Consequently, Red Deer Polytechnic faculty have the right to assign open licenses, such as Creative Commons licenses, to their work.

At Red Deer Polytechnic, faculty do not retain ownership when the transfer of intellectual property is stipulated in a written contract, agreement, or letter of understanding.

This includes (but is not limited to) circumstances where:

  • faculty is paid, in addition to their regular rate of pay, to produce teaching materials
  • faculty is given release time from their usual duties to create and produce a fully developed course that could be delivered by others

At Red Deer Polytechnic, the institution owns:

  • All course documentation requiring approval and filing
    • Including course outlines, course outcomes, course alignment frameworks, curriculum element sheets, student records, and interim & final exams

For more information, please see RDP Intellectual Property Policy

Creative Commons Licenses

Creative Commons licenses are flexible copyright licenses that allow copyright holders to decide for themselves who can share, reuse and build upon their creative works. There are six creative commons licenses:

Creative Commons Licenses

These licenses are comprised of a combination of four features:

BY = Attribution
You may distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon your work but must credit the author

NC = Non-Commercial
You may only use the work for non-commercial purposes

SA = Share-Alike
You must license your revised or remixed work under the identical terms

ND = No Derivatives
You are free to use and distribute the work but may not revise or remix it

Read more about Creative Commons Licenses.

For help selecting a Creative Commons license for your work, please see the Creative Commons License Chooser.

Creating OER and Combining Licenses (9:17)

Applying Fair Dealing to OER Creation

What is fair dealing?

The “fair dealing” exception in the Copyright Act permits the use of a copyright-protected work without permission from the copyright owner. Since the notion of “fairness” is context-driven, we must do a fair dealing assessment whenever we want to use a copyright-protected work, whether in a classroom or in an OER.  To qualify for fair dealing, there’s a two-step test:

  1. The “dealing” must be for a purpose stated in the Copyright Act (which includes research, private study, and education).
  2. The dealing must be “fair.” There are six factors to help determine if our use is fair: purpose, amount, character, alternatives, nature, and effect.

In the context of developing an OER, our purpose clearly falls into the categories of “education, private study, and research.” As a result, we can apply the fair dealing exceptions, and consider whether our use is “fair.”

When considering fairness, no one factor is determinative by itself. The factor that is most commonly discussed is amount, which is generally considered to be approximately 10% of a work or one chapter of a book. However, amount is only one of six factors that should be considered during a fair dealing assessment.

For more information about fair dealing, please see RDP Library’s Copyright Guide: Fair Dealing Guidelines.

Fair dealing and OER

To consider how to apply fair dealing to OER creation, we can use the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Open Education Resources. Please note that “fair use” is the U.S. equivalent of Canada’s “fair dealing.” While fair use and fair dealing are not identical, Appendix Three: Educational Fair Dealing in Canada details how the Code can be applied in a Canadian context as well.

The Code has four Principles for using “inserts” of copyright-protected works in OER:

  1. Using inserts as objects of criticism and commentary. For example, fair dealing might justify using a specific film clip in a film studies course for the purpose of critique.
  2. Including inserts for the purpose of illustration. For example, fair dealing might justify using a lab photograph when studying a classic experiment for the purpose of illustration.
  3. Incorporating content as learning resource materials. For example, fair dealing might justify using an episode of a popular TV show in a Spanish language class for the purpose of promoting mastery of language skills.  
  4. Repurposing pedagogical content from existing educational materials. Fair dealing supports the selective incorporation of elements from sources that are not currently in wide use as course materials, subject to the following:
    1. Authors should consider which parts of the source material are protected by copyright, as many types of factual content are not protected by copyright. For example, general topics, such as subject matter, organization, and broad choices, are beyond the reach of copyright protection. Similarly, short snippets are allowable as quotations.
    2. Authors should be prepared to explain the specific teaching or learning value of each incorporated item and why it represents the best choice for the intended purpose; justify the extent of the material incorporated in pedagogical terms; and specific in what ways, if any, the material was updated.
    3. Authors should be prepared to explain why their OER does not function as a market substitute (for example, because the incorporated work is intended for a different audience than the OER).

To summarize the Code, the main considerations of the Principles are:

  1. All inserts should have appropriate attribution. This attribution should indicate that the inserts are being used under fair dealing exceptions.
  2. Authors should be prepared to explain the pedagogical value of each selection.
  3. Inserts should be directly related to the content (and not, for example, photos of cute baby animals).
  4. The “amount” of the insert should be qualitatively and quantitatively appropriate, depending on the context. For example, fair dealing might justify the use of an entire short article for reflection or response, but not a longer text when students are only expected to engage with a portion.  
  5. When using multiple inserts, authors should attempt to draw from a range of sources.

It’s also worth noting that these Principles are not limited by the possibility that others may make further use of copyright-protected works; these “downstream” uses are not the responsibility of the authors, who have relied appropriately on fair dealing assessments.

So can I rely on fair dealing when I'm creating an OER?

Fair dealing definitely applies to OER. Many authors feel constrained to use only Creative Commons-licensed works, which limits the materials that are available and, consequently, often falls short of fulfilling their pedagogical goals. As authors, you absolutely have the right to strategically use selections from copyright-protected works to support your pedagogical goals and make OER more accessible to learners with varying backgrounds, circumstances, and abilities.

If you have any questions about incorporating third-party content in your OER, please contact your Subject Librarian!