Copyright guide: Copyright and MOOCs

As MOOCs are online and open to all there are copyright considerations to take into account if you wish you use any third party material


Universities creating MOOCs need to be sure that content included as part of the MOOC does not infringe third party copyright. UK copyright law does permit certain acts in the course of teaching e.g. showing a film or playing music. However, this permission does not extend to an online environment such as a MOOC. Library subscription materials such as electronic journals are not licensed for use by individuals who are not members of the university. Permission would have to be obtained to reproduce these, or any other third party, materials, and is likely to incur a cost. See Copyright guide: how long does copyright last? for more details.

Create your own original materials, use Open Access materials or send the details of any third party material to the MOOC Development team, so that they can negotiate permissions.

Open Access Resources

Consider using Open Access resources such as Open Educational Resources (OERs). There are existing OERs via providers such as JORUM. OER materials are usually licensed under Creative Commons licences, which may allow you to use others material with permission and sometimes commercial use is also allowed. If using material and creating a MOOC for a commercial purpose it is necessary to ensure material has an appropriate licence for commercial use. Consider using material in institutional repositories, such as our own White Rose Research Online, where academic staff can post their published research. This is a way of providing access to scholarly material at no cost to the end-user. See Copyright guide: Open Educational Resources for further information.

Seeking Permissions or Licensing Material

If you want to use content that is not your own and there is no CC Licence you have the following options

  • Contact the MOOC Development team so that they can approach the author/publisher of the material and ask for permission to use it
  • If the material is online make a stable link to it rather than including it in the course (it is important to first make sure that the material is not behind a paywall e.g. university journal subscriptions and that the link is stable)
  • If it isn’t possible to get permission or there is a large fee to pay you may wish to consider replacing it with something else

See for further information on copyright