Curious about Creative Commons?

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One of my goals as an educator is to promote a community of ethical users of information.  As such, there is rarely an instructional day during which I am not pontificating on the importance of honoring copyright and citing sources.  You will also hear me encouraging students and staff to use Creative Commons licensed resources.

The School of Open (through Peer to Peer University) is offering several free facilitated courses, including Copyright 4 Educators (US) and Creative Commons for K12 Educators.  Registration ends August 4th and the classes begin August 5th.  More information can be found on the Creative Commons website.

Most adults are familiar with copyright and it’s symbol (©.) The content creator is automatically granted the copyright to his/her work.   This means that from the instant that work is created, he or she has the right to say who can use it and under what condition it is used.  Very simply, copyright means “ask permission before using.”  The use of copyrighted material in the school is made more complex by “fair use” which stipulates that small portions of copyrighted material may be used for educational purposes without asking permission first, provided the work is given attribution.

Creative Commons is a (relatively) new type licensing for original works.  As with copyright, these works can be written works, (including books, poetry, websites, and more) music, images, video, dance, and any other type of work that can take a physical form.  A creator can assign his or her work a creative commons license with different levels of permissions.  So although you don’t need to ask permission to use the work, there may be restrictions on how it is used.  These restrictions can be combined into Creative Commons licenses.  The four types of restrictions are:

  • Attribution- You must give credit to the original creator
  • Non-Commercial- You cannot use the work for monetary gain
  • No Derivative Works- You cannot change the work or create a new work with it
  • Share Alike- You must license your new work with at least the same restrictions as the license of the original work

Here is a great infographic to help you make some sense of it all:

I know that with all of the other responsibilities of the classroom teacher, sometimes ethical use of information can take a backseat.  The internet has made it unbelievably easy to borrow the works of others, and our students don’t even realize that they may be infringing on copyright.  I urge you to learn about copyright and Creative Commons, practice ethical use of information, set standards for ethical use of information for your students, and consider giving your works Creative Commons licenses.

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