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Information on this page should not be construed as legal advice.



  • For copyrighted contents (e-books, textbooks, commercial videos and images etc), you are strongly recommended to seek permission from the author.
  • Always try openly available content.
  • Even with Creative Commons however, the question relating to free content being used in a verified cert context (read: commercial purposes) can be tricky.
  • ‘commercial’ is defined as ‘primarily for a monetary reason’ – hard to avoid this because online courses are strong on commercial potential.
  • Try a fair use approach – this can be hard to argue in some contexts – find out fair use rules in your own country and/or what your institution tolerates (ask OLA).
  • Always think about where you are located, where the content is from, and what audience it is for.
  • The certificate is independent from the content – if the content is free, that is fine, but the problem arises when the free content goes through various hands, and then it depends on what terms and conditions are spelt out in those transfers.

Example: I have created a painting, and A asks me for permission to feature it in his gallery. I gave it to A for free. B saw the painting hanging in the gallery and B took a photo of it, and wants to use the photo in a book she is writing. Is the content still free? Depends on what A’s terms are – A might have drawn up a contract that says “no reproduction through photo or otherwise without permission”…

  • Links are ok but make sure that the links get to legal sources.
  • We can talk about Yoda without showing a picture of Yoda – this is ok.
  • – copies citations for us, and saves us a lot of time.

Navigating copyright for MOOCs: International Best Practices

Presentation at Coursera Conference 2014 by Astrid Bovell, Copyright Information Officer, University of Melbourne.

Navigating copyright for MOOCs: Requesting permission to use content

Handout for the presentation. Highlights how to ask for permission.

Copyright in Online Education: Perspectives and Models



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