VCU Libraries

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Affordable Course Content

Copyright for Faculty

For more information on copyright, see the Copyright for Faculty research guide. 


Questions About Copyright?

Hillary Miller's picture
Hillary Miller
Cabell Library, 121-C
(804) 827-0462

Copyright and Online Resources

Although many online resources are free of cost to use, most are made accessible under terms and conditions that can restrict how they are used. If you want to use online content that is not openly licensed, you should assume that copyright law applies and read any terms and conditions.

Online library resources are also made accessible under the terms of publisher licenses that state how you can use the content. These terms can often be found on the resource’s web page, and the library can provide copies of license agreements on request. If you are unsure of how you can use a library resource as course content, contact Hillary Miller at

Understanding Open Licenses

Authors use open licenses to grant permission to use their works in ways that copyright law would not normally allow. Open licenses do not replace copyright but work alongside it, allowing authors to keep their copyrights while permitting others to make specifically stated uses of their works.

Creative Commons licenses are the most commonly used open licenses for open educational resources. These licenses come in a variety of forms, giving authors multiple choices in how their works can be used. For example, authors can require attribution of their work and permit or deny commercial uses or modifications of their works.