Tag Archives: creative commons

How Creative Common licenses are linked to copyright

For the Creative Commons Certificate course I’m taking right now, one of the discussion topics for this week was:

In many ways, Creative Commons licenses feel like an alternative to copyright law. But the truth is that Creative Commons licenses only work because copyright law exists.

How would you explain the relationship between Creative Commons and copyright law to someone new to Creative Commons? What kinds of examples would you use?

Since my response will probably disappear into the ether after the course ends, and since it might actually be useful for me to think about and revise later, I decided to post it here (with a couple of additions made after I already posted to the discussion board).


If I were to explain the relationship between copyright law and Creative Commons to someone new to CC, say, if they were a faculty member at a post-secondary institution (like I am), I might start by using examples of creating research articles or book chapters.

When you write a research article or book chapter, you hold copyright in that work as soon as it is set into a tangible medium (such as a digital file on a computer). You can choose to copy that work how you wish, to post it on a website, to send it to colleagues via email, to make a poster with some of the same images/figures, to translate the work into another language, to try to sell it to someone else, and more. Others cannot do these things because they don’t have the same rights you do; they don’t hold the copyright, and if they want to do things like this they have to ask your permission.

But if you then work with a publisher of a journal or a manuscript, depending on the publisher and the context, you may have to give away some (or most) of the rights to be able to do these things. You may not be able to post your on a website, to make as many copies as you wish and give them all way, to create a translation, to use the charts/figures in another work, to try to sell it to someone else. It is now the publisher who owns the copyright in the work (or at least many of the aspects of your copyright rights). I once tried to post a pre-print of a book chapter I wrote in an institutional repository, and discovered that the contract I signed didn’t allow me to do that.

When you give your work a Creative Commons license it’s not like this; you retain copyright and the rights associated with it. If you apply a CC license to your work what this does is signal to others how they can use it even without asking your permission. But you still have the same copyright rights you would otherwise.

Often if you publish in an open access journal you retain your copyright and give your work a CC license that allows the journal to post the work on their site, allows readers to download the work to their computers, to print it out, and, depending on the CC license, to use the work for commercial purposes or to make derivatives like translations. CC licenses don’t replace or take away copyright, they work on top of it, making it easy for creators to signal to others what they may do with the work without asking permission.

Consider what this can mean in the context of teaching and learning. Say you want to assign a 2 or 3 of chapters of a book for a course. Students won’t be needing the whole thing, but if you want to go beyond what “fair dealing” might allow, and it’s not a book the library has (or there is only one physical copy), then you either have to ask students to purchase the whole book even though they’ll only use part of it, or look for some other resource for your course. Fair dealing in Canada is quite complicated, actually, and not always easy to figure out. In addition, sometimes electronic copies of resources are purchased through the library with licenses that override what fair dealing might otherwise allow, so things are even more complicated!

If that book were CC licensed (which some are!), you could post on a course website or physically copy just the chapters you need for your students, without asking permission from the author or the publisher. And the author still has the rights to do other things with the work, like post it in multiple websites or repositories, or translate it (or ask others to do so).

This brings up an important point, though: if you are able to use a work under fair dealing, any CC license does not alter your ability to do so. CC licenses work within the structure of copyright, so whatever you could do under copyright law, you can still do with a CC licensed work. Where using CC licensed works in courses can be useful is that you can go beyond what is allowed under fair dealing, and in some cases (depending on the license) you can also adapt the works to your own course & context, by taking out some parts, adding in images, and more.

 

A Brief Overview of Copyright: Slides

In the Creative Commons Certificate Course for Educators I’m taking at the moment, our assignment for Unit 2 (on copyright law) was to create something that provides the basics of copyright. One option was:

Create a video, slide presentation, or infographic (or choose another medium) in which you describe the basics of copyright law as covered in Module 2. Make an effort to create something that would be useful and interesting to someone else.

At a minimum, include descriptions of:

  1. the purpose of copyright,
  2. what is copyrightable and what is not,
  3. the relationship between copyright and other methods of protecting intellectual property,
  4. how a person receives copyright protection for their work,
  5. the public domain, and
  6. exemptions to copyright like fair use.

The instructions for all assignments in this course are publicly available.

For the Unit 1 assignment I made an infographic, but this time there was just too much information to include in a small space. So I decided to do some kind of presentation.

The conceptual structure I chose (a series of questions: what, who, why, when, when not) called out for a Prezi, because then I could include the information within each heading/question really easily. But then I discovered that Prezi is not accessible (at least, Prezi Next is not).

So I went with the tried and true Power Point. As with my previous assignment, I spent a lot of time ensuring adequate colour contrast for accessibility. I didn’t add alt text to the icons except in one place, because the icons are for decorative purposes; I ensured that (nearly) all required information is in the text (the one place where the icon added more, I added alt text).

This was a bit challenging because usually when I make slides I do so for a talk/presentation/workshop, and that means I’ll be speaking while showing them so I can give information orally. Here I had to include all information on the slides themselves because they are serving a standalone purpose. Hence, there is more text on these slides than I usually include!

You can see the slides on Speakerdeck, and download them in Power Point format for editing on the Open Science Framework.

 

Creative Commons Then & Now (CC Cert assignment)

I am taking the Creative Commons Certificate course for Educators this summer, and the assignment for the end of the first week is this (this is one of the two options):

Create a video, slide presentation, podcast, wikibook content, an infographic (or choose another medium) in which you describe the key historical events leading up to the launch of Creative Commons and the state of Creative Commons today. Rather than a disconnected list, create a narrative (tell a story) that ties events and people together. Try to create something that would be useful and interesting to someone who just heard about Creative Commons and wants to learn more.

There was also a list of elements of the story that need to be included, and I just barely managed to fit all of them on the infographic I created! (You can see all of the documents for the course, including the assignments, on the Certificate Resources page.)

I made it with Canva, and most of the icons were purchased through a subscription to The Noun Project. Besides trying to make the elements look good visually and be readable, the thing that took me a surprisingly long time was working on the colour contrasts on the infographic to try to conform to web content accessibility guidelines (WCAG) for colour contrast. The default colours on the template I used from Canva did not conform to those guidelines.

I used the WebAIM colour contrast checker to play around with the background colours and the text/icon colours to make the contrast fit WCAG 2.0 AA guidelines. I am not certain I 100% succeeded; it was a laborious process with Canva, to find the hex codes for each colour and input them into the contrast checker. I just made the decision not to make the dotted lines under the years conform to the guidelines; it’s not a problem if those are difficult to see, as they don’t convey any meaning but are merely decorative.

When will we get to the point where templates on tools such as Canva just automatically conform to accessibility guidelines, or at least automatically have a checker that can help you test if they do and fix if they do not?

Overall, this took quite a bit of time this week, and if I took even more time I expect I’d be happier with it, but at some point one has to stop and move on to the next task!

infographic on the past and present of Creative Commons

 

 

 

 

Why Open Twitter chat on CC licenses and “Why Open?”

On August 29, 2014, I helped facilitate a Twitter chat for a course I was co-designing and facilitating called Why Open? at P2PU (Peer 2 Peer University).

I had this Twitter chat archived at storify.com, but since it’s going away I’m moving the Tweets here to my blog instead. So imagine that this post was made in 2014!

I took out some tweets whose URLs went nowhere; apparently they have left Twitter or moved their accounts…

Continue reading

Join the CC open education platform!

Over the past couple of months I’ve been involved with a new Creative Commons initiative, the Open Education Platform. I first learned about the new CC platforms from a Virtually Connecting session with Cable Green and Regina Gong, at the Creative Commons Global Summit in April 2017. That’s where the first draft of the CC Open Education Platform Working doc was created (we are now on version 2). This is an exciting initiative that has the potential to connect people from many parts of the world to make progress on important goals. Yes, many people are already doing this, but for me, I’ve mostly been working with a relatively small group of people from only certain parts of the world, and this is connecting me with more; one of the explicit goals of the platform is to ensure that we are including people from many different geographical areas.

Here is an invitation letter that was recently sent out to many open ed and OER email lists. Please see the letter and links for more information about the CC Platforms, the Open Ed platform, and how to get involved!


Greetings Open Education Colleagues:

In early 2017, the Creative Commons Global Network (CCGN) completed a consultation process of renewing and reorganizing itself to support a strong and growing global movement. The year-long process resulted in the CCGN Global Network Strategy. Part of the new strategy is to establish defined areas of focus, or “platforms,” which will drive CC’s global activities. Platforms are how we organize areas of work for the CC community, where individuals and institutions organize and coordinate themselves across the CC Global Network.

In the spirit of openness and to effectively strategize, these platforms are open to all interested parties working in the platform area and adjacent spaces. That’s why Creative Commons invites you to join the CC Global Network Open Education Platform!

WHY join?

  • Stay connected to global actions in open education resources, practice, and policy.
  • Identify, plan and coordinate multi-national open education, practices and policy projects to collaboratively solve education challenges with an amazing group of open education leaders from around the world.
  • Secure funding (from Creative Commons and other funding sources) for the open education projects we collectively select.
  • Contribute to global perspectives on open education to strengthen advocacy worldwide.
  • Connect your country / region to global open education initiatives.
  • Be on the forefront in implementing Creative Commons’ global network strategy.
  • Meet annually, in-person, at the Creative Commons Summit with members of the CC Open Education Platform to celebrate successes, share best practices, and plan for the next year.
  • Explore, practice, and share innovative methods for inclusive and open engagement with educators, learners and governments around the world..

WHO should join?

  • Open education advocates working in the areas of open educational resources, open educational practices, and/or open education policy.

WHAT are we working on right now?

  • Reaching the right people (you!) to build a strong open education platform.
  • Developing decision making and engagement structures.
  • Defining the goals and projects the CC Open Education Platform will pursue.

 

Joining the CC Open Education Platform is easy and free:

 

  • Sign up for IM (Slack or IRC):

 

      • Slack: sign up: (it will send an invitation email), then sign up to the #cc-openedu channel
      • IRC: to join the #creativecommons-openedu IRC channel, connect via Freenode.

 

 

  • Attend and participate in the monthly meetings.
    • The next meeting is October 18: 8:00pm / October 19: 9:00am (PDT, UTC -7).
    • Note: every meeting has two different times – so everyone can attend one of the meetings during local daylight hours.

 

Please join the e-mail list and IM channel, introduce yourself and we’ll see you at the next meeting!

CC licenses posters

I’m participating in a quick, five-day workshop on OER from Dec. 5-10 called Ed Tech Open, and one of the things for the first day (which I’m now two days behind on!) was to look over some resources on creative commons and create something about CC licenses that is itself CC licensed. I thought about making an image, a poster, something like that, but I just don’t have time in this lightning-speed workshop! So I decided to take a look at a few charts/infographics/posters and make a few comments about those. I was wondering what some of the effective ways might be to explain CC licenses visually.

I found the first one, below, from the OER workshop itself, and the others through various web searches. I’ll just saw a few things about how effective I think each one is. BUT, I recognize that such things are quite subjective; what makes sense, seems easy and clear, is going to differ amongst persons I expect.

The following chart, from CC Australia, gives a kind of decision tree for determining which license to use. Here’s the link to the source. This chart is licensed CC BY 2.5 Australia.

 

 

The questions on this poster are very helpful, I think–they’re simple and clear. The colours are what confuse me. The explanation on the left says that the pink boxes refer to remixing, the blue ones refer to commercial uses, and the purple boxes are the licenses. That makes sense, but then if you go that route then the first couple of boxes (the green “start” and the red “all rights reserved” boxes have to be different colours, of course. And the effect of all that just feels a bit confusing to me.

I do like the use of red for the “all rights reserved” box, though. It visually indicates that others can’t do things with your work w/o your permission, and it also subtly suggests that maybe one shouldn’t just jump to go that route–red can indicate, to me, a kind of warning, a danger.

One thing I’d like to see in flowcharts like this is some indication of the implications of one’s choices that one might not be aware of. Sure, I may think I don’t want anyone to change and adapt my content, but would I still think so if I knew that meant that people couldn’t even translate it into a different language, that I thereby make it such that my content will be unlikely to be used in many educational contexts, where adaptation to particular circumstances and learning needs is common?

 

The following poster (link to the original source) comes from Creative Commons Poland, and was designed by Piotrek Chuchla.

 

I think the strength of this poster lies in the fact that it emphasizes images over text. The text is there, of course, but it’s deemphasized. This might work for those who really gravitate towards images. But for me, it’s really no less confusing because I have to make sense of the images themselves. It’s like it’s adding a new visual “code” that I’m unfamiliar with, and that I have learn to recognize (with the text) before I can decipher the meaning. For me, this is a bit off-putting and makes things more complicated. I feel like I’m being hit with a wall of images on each row that I have to spend a great deal of time figuring out.

 

A company called Xplore created a chart that is embedded at the following link:

http://www.xplore.net/web_smart/index.htm?articleId=568

But as they don’t clear give a CC license for this chart, and the copyright notice at the bottom of their site says “All Rights Reserved,” I don’t think I can re-post it here.

I find the format of this one easier to read and clearer, myself. The colour-coded checks under various columns let me know at a glance which licenses allow for commercial use, revision, etc., and which don’t. I also like the brief explanation of each column that follows the chart.

The only thing that’s confusing, though I’m glad they included it, is the row for copyright. There are two problems with this:

  1. The original creator retains copyright in their works when using any CC license. One doesn’t give up copyright.
  2. Everything depends on what permissions the original creator allows for use of the work when asked. The things that are “x” under each column may actually be allowed by the author/creator. It’s just that you have to ask permission first.
  3. The row for “copyright” is under the title “Creative Commons Licenses,” which suggest that there is some CC license called “copyright.”

So I find the “copyright” row problematic. But I’m glad they included the “public domain” row, which many charts leave out. It’s just that they suggest that it’s only for those works whose copyright has expired or forfeited. It doesn’t let people know that they can choose to use CC0, the Creative Commons Public Domain Mark.

 

Finally, there is a comprehensive infographic on CC licenses by foter.com, here. It’s quite long and detailed, so I’ll just include a couple of screen shots here.

This image is quite similar to that linked to from Xplore, above. It is of course fine if they based their graphic on the one from Foter (which was published earlier), except that since the one from Foter is licensed CC-BY-SA, then the one from Xplore should be licensed similarly (and the original should be attributed).

 

Be that as it may, this original from Foter doesn’t have the confusing bit about copyright, and doesn’t suggest that public domain is restricted to works whose copyright has expired, been forfeited, or is otherwise inapplicable.

It’s interesting how they order the licenses from most permissive (top) to least permissive (bottom) even though one might have considered putting the SA’s together and the ND’s together. It’s not that BY-ND is more permissive than BY-NC, though; or is it? That’s actually what this infographic suggests in another part:

This suggests that there is a range from most to least permissive, with each license occupying a clear place in that step-wise range. I like the idea here of including the permissiveness/restrictiveness of the licenses in the graphic, but I think the particular order is not exactly clear. Why is ND more permissive than NC? I suppose it is, if one is emphasizing where/how the work may be used, but for OER at least, I think ND is more problematic than NC because to actually be useful in educational contexts one must be able to revise the work.

And of course, why not include CC0 in this list, which would be above CC-BY? I find that CC0 often gets left behind in discussions of CC licenses, with people thinking that the most permissive thing they can do is use CC-BY. But if one doesn’t particularly care about being attributed, then why not use CC0? Some may indeed care, and so then of course CC-BY is the right one to use.

 

I don’t have any big conclusions to draw from all this, except that I personally find the one from Foter the best in terms of presenting the information accurately, clearly and simply. I’d be curious to hear if others have different reactions!

Why do I care if I’m attributed?

During one of the Twitter chats for the ETMOOC topic on “The Open Movement – Open Access, OERs & Future of Ed,” Pat Lockley Tweeted this:

 

We were talking about sharing our educational or other work, why some people find this difficult, the difference between “open access” and things being open in a wider sense, and more.

During the chat Pat’s Tweet kind of just went past me, but as I went back to the #etmchat Tweets for that day to add some to my Storify board on my ETMOOC experience, I came across it again and became curious as to what he meant. Thus started a fairly long conversation about copyright, licenses, public domain, and more. You can see it all here.

There’s a lot I’d like to think about further in this conversation, but what is really standing out for me at the moment is this:

 

 

Why am I using a CC-BY license on my work? Why do I care if I’m attributed when someone uses something from my blog, or some “open educational resource” I create? Pat brought up an important point:

 

 

Why not make one’s work public domain instead of using something like CC-BY? In the current legal climate, apparently it’s rather complicated: some places, like Canada and the U.S. (and probably other places too–I haven’t done enough research to list them), grant copyright simply through creating a work, and this may not actually be easy (or possible?) to give up (see, e.g., re: the U.S., Wikipedia on granting work into the public domain, and this post from the Public Domain Sherpa, and the last section of this page from Copyfree). One can, though, try to state as clearly as possible that one gives up all copyright and related rights to whatever extent allowed by law, and if not allowed, to give a license to anyone to use the work however they wish, without requirement of attribution. That’s what Creative Commons CC0 is meant to do. Copyfree has a list of various licenses that conform to their standard of “free use,” “free distribution,” free modification and derivation,” “free combination” and “universal application,” and CC0 is one of them (as is the Nietzsche public license, which is rather a personal favourite).

So, getting back to the original question and modifying it a bit: why not just use CC0 or something similar, thus releasing one’s work for any use by anyone, without attribution? Why care about attribution?

As Pat Lockley noted, it would be good to know that others find my work useful and that they reuse, repurpose and/or rework it. This would be helpful, if for no other reason than to validate for yourself what you’re doing. It could help you do more of it, perhaps. Knowing this would probably also be a way to improve one’s work through finding out what others have done with it. Not to mention it could be a way to potentially connect with others, which might even lead to collaborations.

In my own situation, on a pragmatic level, if I could discover and document how others have used my work, this could provide evidence that what I am doing has influence in the wider educational community, which might be one of several ways to support a claim of “educational leadership” or “distinction in the field of teaching and learning” for the new Professor of Teaching rank at UBC.

So yes, there are plenty of good reasons to be able to know what others are doing with your work.

But all of this requires what is NOT happening with CC-BY (and possibly not with other licenses…I haven’t done enough research to specify): notifying the attributed person that their work is being reused. If another blog links to your blog, you may get a pingback (maybe not; depends on the settings of your blog and the other blog, I think). And it’s a good practice to let other people know when you’ve used their work, if there’s an easy way to do it (such as leaving a comment on a photo posted on Flickr). I try to do that, but too often I forget (I’m working on this).

As noted towards the end of the Storified conversation with Pat, what’s missing, in order to get the benefits noted above, is some systematic way to notify people as to how you’ve used their work. I don’t even know how such a thing could work–the technological hurdles seem huge–but theoretically, it seems a good idea. Now, like any such things, one wouldn’t have to choose such a license (an attribution + notification license?), but for some it would provide a useful way to not just be attributed, but to know what uses their work is being put to. Perhaps it is too difficult/too much of a hassle to bother with. But it’s an intriguing idea.

“Attribution,” by fotogail (see below)

Of course, there are good arguments for making work as free as possible, without restrictions on what you have to do once you’ve accessed it–like attributing the author/creator, or telling him/her what you’re doing with it. So I’m undecided whether I, personally, would want to require more of the people using my work than just attribution. I might not even recommend this to others. But some might want to do it, and it could be useful.

But until and unless something like this happens, I’m back to my original question: Why do I care about attribution? If, for the most part, I won’t get the above benefits, what am I getting out of knowing that perhaps, somewhere out there, is a piece of work with my name attached?

One might think that it’s kind of like citation in academia; except again, citations are tracked whereas use of my CC-BY work (unless it’s a publication) is not. So really, it’s just a sense that other people know I created something. Why should I care about this?

Add to this the point that much of my work is not, perhaps, really “mine” in a deep sense because it is a culmination of so many other influences, work by so many other people that I have read or otherwise interacted with, and the question becomes even more pressing.

Okay, maybe it will come back to me at some point; maybe I’ll discover my work being used somewhere with my name, and then I can realize some of the good things noted previously. But maybe not (and perhaps most likely not). Or perhaps someone will find something with my name on it and decide to connect with me–thus leading to a connection through effort on someone else’s part rather than mine. These things might happen, but is that enough to require attribution for my work? I’m not yet sure.

I don’t have an answer, and you can’t answer for me of course, but maybe you have some ideas on why asking others to attribute one’s work might be a good idea, rather than just letting it go free into the wild. I’m thinking not so much for people who have to rely on their work to make a living, to make money off of it, but for people like me who are getting a salary from a university and could just share their blog writings, their photos, their OERs for free and without restrictions.

Help me out here?

Image credit: “Attribution,”  flickr photo (CC-BY) shared by fotogail