OER-QMS License (English Version)

Open Education Resource-Quality Master Source License

This license is inspired by the GNU licenses used by software developers and the Creative Commons licenses.  These licenses, however, result in many iterations of content that are not updated and corrected as time passes.  The purpose of this license is to offer content creators the right to maintain a single, high-quality source that they control and maintain such that quality can be preserved over time.

Plain English Version

I’m an academic, and my job depends on me doing scholarly stuff, like publishing books.  If I give those books away under a Creative Commons License to be copied ad nauseam, I have no control over the quality, currency, or use at all.

Further, for-profit companies can reproduce my work to spam search engines and drive traffic, which means my audience never seems my version.   I can do a yearly revision and be all up to date, and a massive company that gets better search engine rankings will be the one that everyone uses.  Annoying.

Further, I need people that use my stuff to let me know, preferably in a nice letter on letterhead, so my Dean knows I’m actually doing something beneficial to the scholarly community, and not playing Farmville all day.  If you want to use something that I worked hundreds of hours on for free, the least you can do is send me an email oozing with compliments and gratitude so I can keep my job and maybe get a raise or a promotion one day.

The OER community is at the Avante Garde of academia, and most of the book publishers wish we would all go somewhere and die in a nasty way.   We will never get administrators to appreciate that OER is valuable if we can’t document that it is being used and serves a noble purpose.  I argue that adoption by your peers is a form of peer review.

Section 1 A of the license basically says this is my stuff, and if you can’t use it like I say, then you can’t use it at all.

Section 1 B is the carrot.  You have to adopt the book to use it, and all that means is that you must send me a note saying who you are, that you are using it, what you are using it for, and where you are using it at.

Section 1 C says you can cite my stuff like you can another book in a critical review, journal article, etc. under the normal rules of scholarly publication.

Section 1 D extends the right to use my stuff to your instructional designers without extra measures (some professors have help!).  This section also lays out what rights I’m giving you:

  • You can cut and paste stuff into Blackboard (or whatever LMS your institution uses) as long as your students need a password to get to it.  You must give me credit, and provide a link to the URL where you got the information–some disciplines would call that a footnote.
  • You can print stuff if you want to for your own purposes, and you can make copies for indigent students on a case by case basis.  What you can’t do is print hundreds of copies and sell them in your institution’s bookstore.
  • You can also print copies if you need them to go into those big binders for the accreditors, or whatever bureaucratic nonsense your institution makes you do.
  • You can link to any of the material from your LMS, departmental webpage, Library OER directory, or whatever you like.   I want people to use my stuff, I just want it used from my webpages so I know (and can document) that it is being used.

Here is some stuff you explicitly cannot do with my stuff:

  • Put it on the web, any kind of way.  Link to it as much as you like, but don’t republish it.
  • Don’t make an ebook, PDF, or any other kind of file out of it.  Use the HTML in your LMS, but I don’t want a bunch of static eBooks, PDFs, or any other file types floating around that I cant update, account for, or anything else.
  • Don’t use my work to produce a “derivative” work.  Normal citations are fine, and using the content as a complete book in your classes is fine, using just sections is fine, but I’d like my work to stay mine and hopefully get some recognition for it.   I don’t think most of us in the Ivory Tower question why this is important.  If you don’t work in academia, Google “publish or perish” and check out what we have to put up with.
  • I know that since we teachers get paid so well, it can only be pure greed that motivates this, but I ask that you not try to make any money off my work, including you SEO masters out there.   IF there are a few dollars to be made, I’d like to use those to pay for my domain, hosting, software, etc.

And that’s it.  I view this license as an exception to regular copyright laws, and as such, it can be brief.

Here is the legalese version: 


I.  General Provisions of the License

A. All original content derived from the creative or scholarly work of the Licensor (hereinafter, “creator”) of the Work offered under this license is protected by the Laws of Copyright, and all rights not explicitly granted within this license are reserved by the Creator.

 B. For the purposes of this License, “adopt” and “adopted” means to notify the Creator, in writing, of your decision to use the Work, the purpose for which you intend to use the Work, your name, your contact information, and your institutional affiliation.

C. This license in no way seeks to limit the Fair Use Doctrine under the copyright laws of the United States, and excerpts for critical purposes and scholarship are permitted according to law and convention.

D.  Under this license, the licensee (hereinafter, “you”), or the designated agent of the licensee on the licensee’s behalf, may do the following, provided that the Work is adopted as defined by and in accordance with this 

(1)  Copy content into a Learning Management System (LMS) that is not “crawlable” by search engines and to which the general public does not have access so long as an attribution and a hyperlink to the original content is provided on the same “page” as the 

(2)  Print verbatim copies for strictly personal use, and print copies for the personal use of a specific, named, and known individual.

(3) Print copies that are intended for the sole use as exemplars in the customary and required records of any Regionally Accredited institution of higher learning or any publicly funded institution of learning whatsoever.  

(3) Provide hyperlinks directly to the content on the Creator’s distribution platform, in whole or in part, from an LMS or any other digital system, including the World Wide Web.   

E. Under this license the following acts are strictly prohibited:

(1) Copy any content to any digital system that is available to the general public, including but not limited to the World Wide Web.  

(2) Produce, offer, or distribute the Work in any print form unless a print version has not been made available by the Creator, and you first obtain the express written permission of the Creator.

(3) Produce, offer, or distribute content in any file format other than the one made publicly available by the author of the content without the express written permission of the author, including but not limited to Portable Document Format (PDF) computer files and “eBook” files, regardless of type.  

(3) Create a derivative work based on the work offered under this License without the express written permission of the Creator.

(4) Derive monetary profit from the Work by any means whatsoever without the expressed written permission of the Creator.

F.  The Creator offers the Licensed Work as-is and as-available, and makes no representations or warranties of any kind concerning the Licensed Material, whether express, implied, statutory, or other.

Last Modified:  07/07/2018

This license developed by Adam J. McKee.  You are free to copy it, modify, and use it as you see fit.  I hereby signify that it is in the public domain on an “as-is” basis.  

If you’d like to use it or recommend a suggestion for improvement, leave me a comment or send me an email.

6 thoughts on “OER-QMS License (English Version)

  1. Dr. McKee,
    My name is Scott Mann and I am an associate professor of criminal justice at El Paso Community College in El Paso, Texas. I would like to use your book in my Introduction to Criminal Justice course. This course is being developed as an OER course. With your permission, I will be cutting and pasting the section narratives with a footnote showing the original source and hyperlink to the original page. Thank you for sharing your work with all of us.


  2. Hi there-
    I am an instructor at Saddleback College in Southern California. First and foremost, thanks for tackling this project. I am piecing together resources and that feels big, I am very grateful to all of you who have written text for our use! Secondly, I would like to link chapters of your textbook for a Community Based Corrections course I am transitioning to Zero Text Book.

  3. Dr. McKee – Thank you for preparing this excellent work. I plan to adopt your text Fundamentals of Procedural Law in a 300-level Criminal Procedures course at WVU Parkersburg.

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