Record the details of any third-party or Creative Commons 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.
- Copyright content tracker
- Copyright for open textbooks vs Learn.UQ (Blackboard)
- Creative Commons content is the safest
- Obtaining Copyright Permissions
- Acknowledging creators
- How to Label Third Party Content in Creative Commons Licensed Material
Use a spreadsheet to track the content. You can download this Copyright Content Tracker (xlsx, 12KB) (adapted from the University of Toronto’s OER Content Tracker) or if you prefer to use your own method, record 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.
Copyright for open textbooks is different than copyright for content that is shared with enrolled students behind an institutional login.
The ‘Ten Per Cent Rule’ or statutory education licence (Section 113P of the Australian Copyright Act), which allows you to copy one chapter or up to ten per cent of a work for educational purposes does not apply to published works like open textbooks.
Most publishers require you to seek permission before reproducing third party content like images, figures or substantial quotes in works that are publicly available.
We recommend using CC0 (‘No Rights Reserved’) or CC BY (‘Attribution’) content, if possible. Or your own content!
You should be very careful to provide an attribution exactly according to the licence terms. Depending on the licence type, the basic requirements are:
- Name of the creator
- Title of the work
- The URL of the work
- Type of licence it is available under and a link to the licence
- If it has been modified.
Note: We don’t recommend using any materials licensed CC BY 2.0 as it has been superseded and has strict attribution requirements that make it easy to make a mistake. Materials licensed CC BY 4.0 are preferred.
You can also use content in the public domain (content where copyright protections have been forfeited or expired) without requesting permission, although the copyright status of these works can be more complicated to determine.
Our Open Educational Resources (OER) guide can help you find relevantly licensed content that you can include in your book.
Securing written copyright permissions may take a while. Contact the copyright holders well in advance to avoid publication delays. The Permissions page on the Library website has sample permission requests that you can adapt.
Some publishers will ask you to pay them a fee in exchange for using their work. These can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars per image or quote, so this can add up.
Others may refuse to grant permission altogether (it’s quite common for publishers to be concerned about potential loss of revenue from sharing their content in an open access work.) In this case, you’ll need to omit or remove their content, which can create structural issues if you’ve already started planning or writing your book.
Licences containing ‘CC BY’ require you to give credit by including what’s known as an ‘attribution statement’. In this statement, you’ll need to identify the creator and source and indicate if you made any changes using phrases like ‘adapted from’ or ‘derived’ from’. Online tools like Open Washington’s Open Attribution Builder can help you write attribution statements.
You don’t need to acknowledge the creators of CC0 or public domain works (although this is still appreciated).
Creative Commons licences are designed to let others know how they may use a work without infringing copyright. Therefore, if you are distributing information under a Creative Commons Licence, and it includes content that isn’t covered by the Creative Commons Licence, this material needs to be clearly identified.
Third Party Content
One category of content that you are unable to license under a Creative Commons licence is third party content. This is content that is created by someone else, a third party, and as such you do not have the rights to license the content. You may not have the rights for any number of reasons, e.g. the content is protected by trademark, owned by someone else, or licensed under another licence (even if it is the same Creative Commons licence that you applied).
For all third party content, you must prominently mark or indicate in a notice that this content is excluded from the Creative Commons licence.
How to Label Third Party Content
The Pressbooks licence states the type of licence and also includes the words “except where otherwise noted.” You must note in your book the use of any third-party content using one of these methods:
1. Giving a notice next to third party content
This involves marking or notating all third party content. To do this you should indicate directly underneath the content. In addition to citing the source of copyright material, it is best practice to include the following information as well:
- the owner of the copyright
- how you are allowed to reproduce the content (whether that be through direct permission from the copyright owner or through a Creative Commons licence).
Example: direct permission from the copyright owner to use content:
Example: material licensed under Creative Commons:
2. Giving a general notice listing all third party content
This involves giving a general notice that identifies all third party content.
This can be added to your Pressbook in the Book Info section in the Copyright Notice field or on a dedicated page listing the third-party content.
List all the third party content specifically or, if possible, list material based on content type.
Example: listing all the third party content:
Material that is not licensed under a Creative Commons licence is:
- Commonwealth Coat of Arms
- Material protected by a trade mark
- Photographs on pages 4, 5 and 6
- Poem on page 2
All content not licensed under a Creative Commons licence is all rights reserved, and you must request permission from the copyright owner to use this material.
Example: identifying third party content by content type:
With whatever method you choose, the most important thing is that you clearly and effectively identify third party material.
(The third part content section was adapted from How to Label Third Party Content in Creative Commons Licensed Material by the National Copyright Unit under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence.)