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Open Licence and Intellectual property rights

In general, copyright grants the creator of any original work - e.g. an educational resource - the exclusive rights to use this work. Licences are a common way for copyright holders to allow others to make use of their work. A licence defines terms and conditions under which the rightholder grants specific individuals or organisations to use their work.

An open licence is a way for the copyright holder (creator or other rightholder) to grant the general public the legal permission to use their work. The applied open licence is usually indicated directly on the work and wherever the work is shared. As in the case of other licences, open licences do not imply a transfer of copyright or other intellectual property rights. Someone granting an open licence for their work still remains the copyright holder of their materials and can themselves use the materials as they wish, e.g. to commercialise their project outcomes. Specifically, an open licence applied to educational resources produced with support of Erasmus+, must allow the public (i.e. any third parties) at the minimum to freely:

  • Use the work;
  • Adapt the work as needed (e.g. translate, shorten, modify for local contexts, etc.);
  • Reproduce and share the original or adapted work with others (e.g. with students in the classroom, online, with peers, etc.).

While Erasmus+ encourages beneficiaries to apply the most open licences1 to ensure the maximum impact of their works, beneficiaries may choose open licences with specific conditions, in particular:

  • That the creator has to be indicated whenever the work or a derivative is used or shared;
  • That the work cannot be used commercially (e.g. sold by others, integrated in a commercial textbook, etc.);
  • That any derivatives have to be shared under the same licence or licensing terms.

While beneficiaries are free to choose any open licence or even develop their own open licence, to avoid duplication of work, ensure legal certainty, and ensure the possibility to combine several works, Erasmus+ beneficiaries are strongly encouraged to make use of well-known existing licences suitable for the type of resource. The licence cannot contain any conditions which limit the user group, which forces users to register, participate, or otherwise undertake any specific activity, or which specifies that the use has to be requested or reported.

  • 1. E.g. the widely used Creative Commons Attribution or Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike licenses for creative works, the GNU Public License and GNU Lesser Public License for software, or the Open Database License for databases.