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FAQ: Intellectual Property

Who owns the intellectual property published on the MIT OpenCourseWare Web site?

What are the requirements of use for MIT OpenCourseWare?

How does MIT define non-commercial use?

How do I properly cite my reuse of MIT OpenCourseWare materials?

How can I contribute my own educational materials to MIT OpenCourseWare?


Who owns the intellectual property published on the MIT OpenCourseWare Web site?

The intellectual property policies created for MIT OpenCourseWare are clear and consistent with other policies for scholarly materials used in education. Faculty retain ownership of most materials prepared for MIT OpenCourseWare, following the MIT policy on textbook authorship. MIT retains ownership only when significant use has been made of the Institute's resources. If student course work is placed on the MIT OpenCourseWare site, then copyright in the work remains with the student. Prior to making any course materials publicly available, the MIT OpenCourseWare team has reviewed all material extensively to determine the correct ownership of the material and obtain the appropriate licenses to make the material openly available on the Web. We will promptly remove any material that is determined to be infringing on the rights of others. If you believe that a portion of MIT OpenCourseWare materials infringes another's copyright, please notify MIT OpenCourseWare.


What are the requirements of use for MIT OpenCourseWare?

The underlying premise and purpose of MIT OpenCourseWare is to make course materials used in MIT courses freely and openly available to others for non-commercial educational purposes. Through MIT OpenCourseWare, MIT grants the right to anyone to use the materials, either "as is," or in a modified form. There is no restriction on how a user can modify the materials for the user's purpose. Materials may be edited, translated, combined with someone else's materials, reformatted, or changed in any other way. However, there are three requirements that an MIT OpenCourseWare user must meet to use the materials:

  1. Non-commercial: Use of MIT OpenCourseWare materials is open to all except for profit-making entities who charge a fee for access to educational materials.
  2. Attribution: Any and all use or reuse of the material, including use of derivative works (new materials that incorporate or draw on the original materials), must be attributed to MIT and, if a faculty member's name is associated with the material, to that person as well.
  3. Share alike (aka "copyleft"): Any publication or distribution of original or derivative works, including production of electronic or printed class materials or placement of materials on a Web site, must offer the works freely and openly to others under the same terms that MIT OpenCourseWare first made the works available to the user.

Please refer to the MIT OpenCourseWare Privacy and Terms of Use page for our specific licensing terms and conditions, including use of the MIT name. If you would like to use MIT OpenCourseWare course materials, but you are unsure whether your intended use qualifies as non-commercial use, please contact MIT OpenCourseWare.


How does MIT define non-commercial use?

Non-commercial use means that users may not sell, profit from, or commercialize OpenCourseWare materials or works derived from them. That said, we have found that there are certain "gray areas" in interpreting the non-commercial provision of OCW's Creative Commons license. The guidelines below are intended to help users determine whether or not their use of OCW materials would be permitted under the "non-commercial" restriction. Note that there are additional requirements (attribution and share alike) spelled out in our license.

  1. Commercialization is prohibited. Users may not directly sell or profit from OCW materials or from works derived from OCW materials.

    Example: A commercial education or training business may not offer courses based on OCW materials if students pay a fee for those courses and the business intends to profit as a result.

  2. Determination of commercial vs. non-commercial purpose is based on the use, not the user. Materials may be used by individuals, institutions, governments, corporations, or other business whether for-profit or non-profit so long as the use itself is not a commercialization of the materials or a use that is directly intended to generate sales or profit.

    Example: A corporation may use MIT OpenCourseWare materials for internal professional development and training purposes.

  3. Incidental charges to recover reasonable reproduction costs may be permitted. Recovery of nominal actual costs for copying small amounts (under 1000 copies) of MIT OpenCourseWare content on paper or CDs is allowed for educational purposes so long as there is no profit motive and so long as the intended use of the copies is in compliance with all license terms. Students must be informed that the materials are freely available on the MIT OpenCourseWare site and that their purchase of copied materials is optional.

    Example: An institution in a remote area has limited Internet access and limited network infrastructure on campus, and a professor offers to create CDs of MIT OpenCourseWare materials relevant to her course. The professor may recover the costs of creating the CDs.


How do I properly cite my reuse of MIT OpenCourseWare materials?

If you choose to reuse or repost MIT OpenCourseWare materials you must give proper attribution to the original MIT faculty author(s). Please utilize the following citation:

[Name], [Course Title], [Term]. (MIT OpenCourseWare: Massachusetts Institute of Technology), [URL] (Accessed [Date]). License: Creative commons BY-NC-SA

Example:

Jane Dunphy, 21F.225/21F.226 Advanced Workshop in Writing for Science and Engineering (ELS), Spring 2007. (MIT OpenCourseWare: Massachusetts Institute of Technology), http://ocw.mit.edu/OcwWeb/Foreign-Languages-and-Literatures/
21F-225Spring-2007/CourseHome/index.htm (Accessed March 10, 2008). License: Creative commons BY-NC-SA

If you want to use the materials on your Web site, you must also include a copy of the MIT OpenCourseWare Creative Commons license , or clear and reasonable link to its URL with every copy of the MIT materials or the derivative work you create from it.


How can I contribute my own educational materials to MIT OpenCourseWare?

The intent of MIT OpenCourseWare is that our site should reflect the materials used in courses taught at MIT. The reason for this policy is that the materials presented on the MIT OpenCourseWare site are authored by members of the MIT Faculty, and thus, our faculty will take final responsibility for these materials. It would be difficult for MIT OpenCourseWare to guarantee the accuracy and originality of materials we received from outside sources. However, we encourage other universities to create their own "opencourseware" in which materials from their courses would be posted online and openly shared with the world. MIT OpenCourseWare is eager to link to other universities or institutions that have similar goals. For more information about how your institution can openly publish its course materials in an OpenCourseWare environment, please visit the OpenCourseWare Consortium site.