Educational resources

General principle
Material in a collection of selected readings or electronic learning environment
Easy Access agreements
Material you created yourself
The right to quote
Be aware
Open Educational Resources (OER)

Educational resources are subject to copyright. Educational resources can e.g. be articles, images, videos (weblectures) and (parts of) a book or magazine. Institutions therefore often make special arrangements with the copyright holders for using these materials in education. If this is not the case, you can usually still use copyrighted material for a reasonable fee. Below we explain all the copyright rules for the use of (digital) educational resources.

General principle

In principle, you need permission (for example, a licence) before you can publicly disclose or reproduce copyrighted material.

A distinction is made between materials you use in a presentation for a (digital) lecture or working group, for example, and materials you make available in an electronic learning environment or a collection of selected readings on paper.


Material may be shown or played without the rightsholder's permission if it has an educational purpose. There must be no profit motive. This applies to films, videos and television programmes, music and sound recordings, and still images such as photos and works of art. The presentation must be part of the education programme and take place at the education institution's physical location or in a digital lecture on Zoom or Teams, for example.

Note: different rules apply if the presentation is recorded and placed in an electronic learning environment, for example.

Material in a collection of selected readings or electronic learning environment

Institutions can obtain licences for the use of specific copyright-protected (educational) resources in an educational setting. The terms and conditions of such a licence describe what may or may not be included in the (digital) learning environment. This is discussed in more detail below.

Easy Access agreements

Easy Access agreements have been established with Stichting UvO for universities of applied sciences and universities. This is about the use of texts and images.

The agreements set limits for this type of use. If you want to use more, you need permission to do so. There are several ways to do this:

  •  If you want to use the material for longer than is permitted, you have to complete a standard form to obtain Stichting UvO's permission in advance. This involves some additional costs.
  • Alternatively, as a lecturer, you can ask the copyright holder, for example the author or publisher, for permission. Make sure that the consent document is kept.

Links to copyrighted online material are always permitted, provided that this material has been lawfully disclosed.


Sometimes you get more freedom to use copyrighted material. It may have been distributed under a general licence. In that case, the licence determines the conditions for the material's use.

The material may be Open Acces available. Open Access means that the material can be accessed and used freely. Some Open Access materials are made available under a Creative Commons licence.

There are 6 different standard Creative Commons licences. They range from limited to free use of the material. It is therefore important to always check the Creative Commons licence in advance to see what is allowed. For more information see CC licences and Terms and conditions of use.

Material you created yourself

You can also use material that you made yourself and own the copyright of. Make sure to include the source here as well, so reference your own work.

The right to quote

The right to quote allows you to use part of a text or image without the author’s permission, provided that you accurately reference the source. If you cite from copyrighted material, you also don't have to pay a fee.

The right to quote includes both literal quotations from the work and paraphrasing (rephrasing) the work.

The following conditions apply:

  • By law, citations have to serve at least one of the following purposes: an announcement, assessment, polemic or scientific dissertation.
  • Citations have to be proportionate: you mustn't cite more than what is necessary.
  • Citations must mention the source (including the creator's name).
  • Citations must come from works that has been lawfully disclosed.

The right to quote may also apply when you use an image to support the content of a scientific dissertation or educational content. The condition is that the image is a relevant addition and not simply a funny or attractive picture for decorative purposes. For example, a picture of a random mill in a dissertation about mills is not an image citation. If the dissertation is about a specific mill and you show a small photo of that mill, the right to quote does apply. The photo must not be a major part of your dissertation. A large photo with 2 sentences about what is in the photo is not a valid citation. The citation must also be proportionate.

Furthermore, a cited image must be referenced with the correct source information and be clearly recognisable as such, for example by adding the words 'image citation'. You can also put a frame around it similar to quotation marks for quoting text.

Be aware

Source referencing

Ensure proper source referencing. This is always mandatory.
Creative Commons provides source referencing guidelines in its wiki.

An individual's right to control the commercial use of their image and likeness

Commissioned photographs of individuals may only be used with the written permission of both the photographer and the persons in the photographs, or if this has been arranged with a licence.

Non-commissioned photos of individuals may only be used with the permission of the photographer, or if this has been arranged with a licence and their use doesn't compromise any reasonable interests of the persons portrayed. These reasonable interests include commercial interests and privacy.

The creation of videos/weblectures

Ask the speaker and audience (usually students) for permission in advance and tell them how, where and to whom you want to disclose the video/weblecture.

Think about the reuse of the video/weblecture in advance. For example, you can give it a Creative Commons licence. It allows you to give others the opportunity to use it in a way you choose.

Open Educational Resources (OER)

What are Open Educational Resources? 

Educational resources can also be made available under a licence. This means they are 'open'. The motives for this can be to remove an existing barrier, limit costs, increase efficiency for lecturers (why reinvent the wheel?) and promote certain ideas.

The most important characteristics of open educational resources are: 

They are (digitally) available and can be used freely. 

They come with a licence that permits their (re)use and distribution.

Many open educational resources can be modified freely, so you are not tied to the material's original form unless it comes with a No Derivative licence. 

How can I recognise open educational resources and where can I find them? 

You can recognise open educational resources by their user licence, such as a Creative Commons (CC) licence. Websites offering open learning resources include edusources, Merlot and OER Commons.

Find out whether your education institution offers specific support for the (re)use of open educational resources and the development of your own open educational resources. 

Publish your own educational resources with a CC licence 

If you have developed educational resources in the context of your employment, your employer usually owns the copyright. If you have any doubts, please contact your employer. If your employer owns the copyright, you need its permission to distribute the material or provide a CC licence. Visit the Creative Commons website to find out how to licence your work. For example, you can include it in your institution's repository or a national or international repository.