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5.1 Searching for OER

Some popular search and media sites can also help you find resources that you can reuse:

Google Images search

Within the settings on a Google Images [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] search results page you can search for images that have been labelled for reuse. After performing a search and seeing the results page, click on the ‘Tools’ drop-down menu. This brings up a new toolbar of options, one of which is ‘Usage rights’. By clicking on this, ‘Creative Commons licenses’ or ‘Commercial & other licenses’ can be selected according to your preferences. Images can also be selected according to size, colour, type and time of publication, if required. When the results window refreshes, the images shown should be reusable.

However, images found in this way cannot simply be copied and pasted without attribution. Click on chosen images to access the originating site and check the reuse licensing options. If the hosting site does not provide this information then the image should not be used (as simply attributing it may not be sufficient to protect against breach of copyright).


Beneath every video on YouTube is a ‘Show More’ link. When clicked, the licence attached to the video is revealed. Some videos have a Creative Commons licence attached (this is an option the uploader can select when putting their video onto YouTube). However, most have the default Standard YouTube Licence, which says you ‘shall not copy, reproduce, distribute, transmit, broadcast, display, sell, license, or otherwise exploit any Content for any other purposes without the prior written consent of YouTube or the respective licensors of the Content’. Therefore, to reuse YouTube videos that have the Standard YouTube Licence, the only course of action is to attempt to contact the uploader to gain permission.

YouTube does provide a setting to filter search results so they only show videos bearing a CC licence. This can be done by performing a search for videos on the theme of your choice, and then selecting the ‘Filter’ option. Under the heading ‘Features’ there is the option ‘Creative Commons’, which reduces the results list to videos that have a CC licence attached.


Beneath every video on Vimeo is a ‘More’ link. If uploaders have attached a licence to their video, the type of licence that applies will be listed here. If no licence is stated, it must be assumed that the work cannot be reused without permission from the uploader, and they must be contacted. A search within the Vimeo site can be narrowed to show only CC-licensed videos. To do so, perform a search using the main search box. When a results page appears, select ‘More’ under ‘Refine By’ in the left-hand column. Scrolling down should reveal a 'Licence' section where you can filter the search results according to which CC licences apply to the planned usage of the video.


Image-sharing site Flickr makes it very clear which images can be reused and which cannot. When a search is performed in the Flickr website, the most prominent drop-down filter option on the results page is ‘Any license’ which, by means of a drop-down menu, can be changed to filter results for a variety of Creative Commons options. Every image on Flickr has beneath it either a © symbol or a CC symbol, and clicking this will bring up the precise terms of use for that image.

Activity 4 Finding CC resources

Timing: Allow about 45 minutes

Choose a topic of interest to you. This could be a topic relating to a course you teach or have helped produce, or to your role at your institution. Spend 10 minutes searching for CC resources on this. Aim to make use of at least one OER repository from the bulleted list on the previous page, and one of the media sites mentioned.

Select one or two resources that give you permission to use and/or edit. Assess:

  • The quality of this resource:
    • Who created it?
    • Does it appear accurate and well presented?
    • Are there any reviews or information from educators who have used it?
  • The appropriateness of this resource to your audience:
    • Does it need editing or introducing?
    • Would it combine well with any other materials that you are planning to use?
  • The licence:
    • Is it clear how the resource is licensed?
    • What does this allow you to do with it?
    • Do you need to attribute or ask for any permissions?
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Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).


This initial search may have helped you to find resources that could be useful, but you might also have realised that for some subjects there is a lot of material available and it takes time to find the most suitable resources. Considering quality, appropriateness and licensing issues as you search for resources will help you save time and increase the benefit of drawing on resources created by others.