If you want to share, say so!

I took part in the Open Content Licensing for Educators online course that ran all last week.  It was run by the team at WikiEducator and was a great insight into the many copyright issues that can be addresses by creating Open Educational Resources using clear and open licensing terms.

I know that many educators don’t think in terms of “licensing” their work, but really, whenever you make something that can be used to help either you or others teach, it’s a “resource” and the way that you indicate how you are prepared to let others use that resource can be considered a “license”.

The thing that became screamingly obvious as I worked through the online course content last week was that…

a) All educators need to get much, much better at MARKING our work (where we’re allowed to) with some form of designation that indicates how we wish to share it. We all produce resources, but very few of us consciously consider marking those resources with a “license” to indicate how we want to allow (or restrict) others to use them. Creative Commons is ideal for this purpose, but there are other options too, such as AEShareNet.

The point is, whatever you choose to use, use something. (I know that some of you will rightly point out that the copyright for work you produce for your employer is technically the property of your employer…  I don’t even want to go down that slippery slope right now… I’m just saying that, where you are able, when you are allowed, PLEASE add some indication to the resources you produce to indicate how you will permit further reuse and remixing of those resources. I’m sure we have all experienced the frustration of finding a good resource that we’d like to reuse, but cannot find any mention of how the creator intended to share it… when it’s not marked as shareable then have to assume it’s covered by full All Rights Reserved copyright, and therefore we are technically unable to use it until we get permission… it’s a pain in the neck!)

And secondly..

b) For education, the best type of license is a CC-BY or a CC-BY-SA.  These are the only two CC license types that are classed as “Culturally Free”, meaning that they allow real sharing, reuse and remixing by others. Adding the well-intentioned NC (Non Commercial) or ND (No Derivatives) to a CC license can still make it difficult for people to use your stuff easily and legally, and in some ways are almost as restrictive as full copyright.  There are obviously places and situations for all six of the various CC license types, but for education and to allow real freedom to share, BY or BY-SA are the best ones.

Whatever terms you decide to use (although I’d encourage you to use the most free – libre – license you can) please mark your work – worksheets, powerpoints, IWB presentations, videos, etc – with something to let downstream users clearly know what they can and can’t do with your work.

CC BY 4.0 If you want to share, say so! by Chris Betcher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

7 Replies to “If you want to share, say so!”

  1. Do you worry though that NOT adding ‘No Derivatives’ to a CC license could result in the misuse of your work? i.e. I am always happy for people to ‘share’ and ‘reuse’ my work…perhaps I have misunderstood the concept of ‘remix’?

    1. Hi Kelli,

      The ND (No Derivs) is a particularly restrictive thing to include in a shared work, especially for education..

      Allow me to answer your question with a series of other questions…

      How do you envision people will “misuse” your work? What exactly are you trying to protect yourself from? Are the worksheets and activities and photos and things you make and share really so precious that you wouldn’t want anyone changing them at all?

      If you make a (say) worksheet for use with your students, and then you share it with others, do you really want to prevent them from removing a paragraph, adding a picture, or otherwise modifying it to suit the students they teach? Should someone be able to crop the photo you shared? Take a short snippet from the video you made? In education particularly, we often need to modify a resource to suit our particular context. Does it really matter to you if people do that?

      Is it really reasonable to expect that the worksheet you made, which may suit your purposes exactly, is also exactly what others need? Why would you not want them to be able to modify it?

      This is what ND means… “you can use my work as long as you don’t change it at all from the exact format you found it in”. I think that’s a pretty big limitation in education, don’t you?

      Remix, as I understand it, simply means that I can take something that someone else has made and then modify it for my own specific context. ND prevents this.

      1. Hmm. I guess the reason why I woudn’t want people changing ‘my’ work is because I am asking them to attribute it.

        To explain – I have seen some people’s units of work totally butchered in the past where the new author has taken bits of activities or ideas, put them into a new work, and added the original source as a credit. The (new) audience then looks at the (new, reinterpreted) work, sees the credit at the end, and boom – you’re associated with a potentially crappy idea or strategy.

        It’s not that I don’t think we’re ‘all in this together’, or that I care about people ‘stealing’ my work (go for it – sharing is caring!). But no, I kinda don’t want my name/reputation near other ppls remixes that I haven’t collab’ed on.

        Or am I just being petty and too full of myself (i.e. ‘an author’ ;)?

        1. Hi Kelli,

          No I don’t think you’re being petty at all, and you have every right to exercise whatever control you wish over your own content. It is, after all, your content.

          And I see the point you’re making about having your name associated with crappy modifications of your work.

          I guess my only concern would be that by adding the ND to your work it makes it quite restrictive as to what can and can’t be done with it. (You didn’t mention whether you also apply an NC as well. BY-NC-ND is the most restrictive of the CC licenses and is not really all that different to regular copyright in that people can’t really use your work unless they leave it exactly as is or ask permission, and in education as we all know, teachers always want to change something!)

          Like traditional copyright, most BY-ND or BY-NC-ND works would still require the user to contact the content owner of the work to ask permission to use it, and that content owner would still be able to say yes or no to the request. Which is fine, but it doesn’t really solve the problem that CC sets out to address, which is the free use of resources without the constant need to ask permission.

          Making content ND is perfectly valid, but it doesn’t make it easy to reuse the content, which is the whole point of CC in my opinion.

  2. I agree -ND is restrictive for educators since we constantly want to adapt, incorporate, extend or just plain hack the work done by people before us 🙂

    Question: If you put CC-BY-SA – does that mean commercial publishers could only use your work if they are prepared to drop their (c) on their *entire* work? I have been doing -NC because I don’t want my work to support others’ profit gained from (c) works we subsequently don’t have open access to.

    1. Yes that’s my understanding of it. A full All Rights Reserved copyright work could not contain a BY-SA work within it, because the Share Alike requirement would mean that the derivative work would also need to be shared alike. ie, the copyright owners would have to give up their own copyright.

      As tempted as I am to just put CC BY on my work, I still feel like I need the slight extra protection that CC BY-SA offers for the reasons above. Both are still classed as “Culturally Free” license types.

  3. Hey Chris,
    Just wondering about the ‘showing’ element. If I ‘show’ on everything I do, a part of me feels that limits the ability to remix?
    I have noticed that people like Jackie Gernstein are really mindful of showing the licence, whereas people like Alan Levine settle for simply posting on Flickr and applying licences that way.
    Am I missing something?

    N.B. Does Flickr belong with YouTube as one of those websites with so much potential that some schools are so quick to block?

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