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Open Educational Resources (OERs)

An introduction to sharable, free, remixable textbooks, modules, and other resources

OERs and Generative AI

Generative AI tools have great potential in the creation of OERs or portions of OERs with the faculty member in the role of editor.  However, all of the problems with generative AI that arise from the internet as its source of training data (bias, inaccuracy, misinformation, copyright infringement) would also be present in the content of the OERs.  


Copyright, AI, and OERs

In a decision on February 14, 2022, the U.S. Copyright Office stated that "copyright law only protects 'the fruits of intellectual labor' that 'are founded in the creative powers of the [human] mind'.” 

As a result, works created by generative AI cannot be copyrighted.  They pass immediately into the public domain, which makes them, by definition, OERs.  Without copyright ownership, however, an editor of an OER created by generative AI cannot grant permission for it to be reused, revised, etc. through a Creative Commons license as usually happens with OERs.  

In addition, lawsuits have recently been filed by the New York Times and others because their copyrighted material has been taken from the internet and used as training data for the LLMs (Languages Learning Models) behind AI tools.  This copyrighted material has appeared verbatim in text generated by AI tools.  We will need to watch closely as the courts sort out this issue of copyright and generative AI as these decisions will have a direct impact upon OERs. 


Using AI Tools with CC-Licensed OERs

It is possible to take an OER text that already has a Creative Commons license and use AI tools to generate supplemental materials such as assessments, discussion questions, guides, etc.

AI tools such as ChatGPT Plus plugin and AI from Anthropic will allow you to upload the CC-licensed OER text and write a prompt to create the materials you need.

Here again, keep an eye on court decisions about copyright and AI as the legality of this use may also change.

For more information about generating supplemental OER materials with AI: