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Open Educational Resources (OER)

Learn about OER, including how to find and use resources.

Why would I want to look for course materials in the public domain?

Unlike openly licensed materials, public domain materials have no legal restrictions on their use (though of course, there is an ethical, academic obligation to cite your sources). Public domain materials may be right for your course if you are looking for older materials such as art, literature, or other historical materials that may help provide context for more current work in your discipline.

Public Domain and Open Culture Sites

Tips for Using Public Domain Materials

  • Always look for copyright, terms of use, or permissions statements.  Even if a museum, library, or archive is making its materials available online, you should verify that the object is in the public domain.
  • If an item description does not include its copyright status and you really want to use it, contact the organization and ask.
  • Always cite the author and source of the content you are using.
  • Cite and link to any item you have downloaded.  Many institutions require you to give them credit through a citation and link.  But even if not required it is always a good practice to source where and when you obtained materials.