Skip to Main Content

Open Educational Resources Collective Publishing Workflow

Get Set Up For Success with Copyright

When you’re creating or adapting an open textbook, it’s important to keep track of any third-party content you plan to use – especially where permission from the copyright holder is required.

This will ensure your textbook complies with Australian and New Zealand copyright law and save you from having to source replacement content later in the process. 

Managing Third-Party Content

Record the details of any third-party content (e.g. text, photographs, figures, videos, etc.) you plan to include in your textbook to help with checking copyright, obtaining permissions and providing proper attribution.

At the very least, you’ll need to note the:

  • type of content (e.g. video, image, website, etc.)
  • content title
  • content creator/copyright owner
  • creation and access dates
  • link to the original source (where available)
  • location in your textbook (e.g. chapter 2, section 2.5)
  • licence type or copyright terms and conditions.

Even if the content is licensed under a Creative Commons licence, you’ll still need to keep track, as not all Creative Commons licences can be mixed, so this will ultimately affect the licence you choose.

It’s a good idea to build content management into your writing process. Using a spreadsheet like this OER Content Tracker (created by the University of Toronto) will save you from having to try to track down missing information later on.

Managing Copyright Permissions

If the content you want to use isn't openly licensed, you’ll need to:

  • contact the copyright holders to request permission to reproduce it in your textbook
  • document responses to permissions requests in your content tracking spreadsheet so you know what you can and can’t use, and how (if you can’t get permission, you’ll also need to remove the content from your textbook)
  • retain copies of emails or letters granting permission for your records.

You should also check with your copyright team if your institution has any specific requirements for storing written permissions (e.g. in a record management system like TRIM).


Adapted from:

Managing Assets’ in Authoring Open Textbooks by Melissa Falldin and Karen Lauritsen, licensed under a CC BY 4.0 licence.

Copyright’ in the Open Textbook Toolkit by the University of Toronto, licensed under a CC BY 4.0 licence.