Saturday, 6 April 2013

Creative Commons Licence: which one?

Will the choice vary with the context and type of resource? 

For activity 9 (H817 MOOC / OpenLearn UK), we've been asked to take a closer look at  Creative Commons licences and consider which we would use for our personal blogs and why.

My initial reaction was, why would anyone want to reuse or remix anything from my blog, especially where personal opinion is involved? But then again, perhaps the videos, images or slides I create might be of use and of interest elsewhere. 
      I have no problems at all with sharing what I write or create as I frequently make use of open educational resources (OER) from a variety of providers, so it only seems fair to contribute to the cycle i.e. not just be a consumer but a producer as well. According to  Weller (2012), what I'm producing falls under the category of 'little OER'. By this he's referring to individuals creating and aggregating OER which are not necessarily intended for educational purposes but are 'high in generativity because they can easily be used in different contexts' (Weller, 2012) and because of their 'low production quality' (2012), which seems to encourage adaption in comparison to big OER. These are produced by institutions and considered of a higher quality and hence less likely to be remixed or adapted (Weller, 2012).
          I do write for a particular audience and mainly produce  posts, videos, images and slides. I also upload images to Flickr for public viewing, curate a few topics via and upload videos to YouTube and Vimeo. So if I am going to commence stamping a licence on my work then I do have to think about what has value as an OER and the consequences of my choices, not just for me but  the influence it will have on how others use and share my material.

 Creating resources takes time, but I'm not reliant on any of the content I produce for income. Why do I invest the time in the creation of content? I'm sometimes asked by students, teachers or parents to post a blog about a particular tool. I find it more economical to post here than to write numerous individual emails or go searching through hundreds of documents for something that I know I have on file but just can't remember where I filed it. (A workflow issue that I'm rectifying). Additionally, I write and  produce material because a topic interests me and I want to retain a record of my thoughts at the time i.e. as a reflective post or artefact. I also commenced curating a few topics in relation to language learning and Massive Open Online Courses for exactly the same reason i.e. it's an efficient means of passing on relevant resources and still being able to add a personal comment. I also use the material myself and have found it to be a convenient storage system which enables a clear overview of material quickly.

I'm aware of the range of Creative Commons licences and have blogged about them previously in relation to curation sites, more specifically, briefly informing readers to be aware that CC licences exist and that there may be restrictions pertaining to how OER can be used. However even with a restrictive licence, there is always the possibility to request permission from the original author to use the resource in a manner that has seemingly been discounted by the licence. You won't know unless you ask. It's worth trying.

In the H817 MOOC we've been introduced to Wiley's '4Rs of Reuse' for open content:

-Redistribute' (2007)

Presented like this as I've listed them, they can be quite misleading. It gives the impression of being able to use OER freely to suit your own purposes. It's when you examine the definitions, read the smaller print and take a closer look at the CC licences that the '4Rs of Reuse' (Wiley, 2007) grow in complexity. They may or may not come as a packet; they might come in several variations and each variation will have an influence on how they can be reused and shared by others. So before you use choose a licence yourself it's imperative to understand what the restrictions mean. 
   I found the Common Craft video (2013) useful for newcomers to CC licences, Geffrotin's (2007) slideshare enlightening, the CC website informative and Moller's (2005) case against using a non-commercial (NC)  quite persuasive. It was the latter that made me  realise that I hadn't thought enough about the consequences of including or excluding certain elements of the licences e.g. NC   and share-alike (SA).
     Moller (2005) raises the issue of incompatibility of CC licences in relation to using the NC element, especially in a digital world where content is being shared quite freely. How commercial and non-commercial are defined becomes quite confusing and  I think inevitably, if someone wants to use a quality OER in a manner that is restricted by the licence, then they'll find a means of overcoming the grey zone definitions. Controls are difficult to implement and are costly. To believe that exploitation will be discouraged in some quarters by a restrictive CC licence is naive, we're only blocking those who genuinely want to respect the authors' work and adapt and share OER for legitimate purposes. Moller's (2005) article is worth reading as he gives a few specific examples in relation to these problem areas, which I won't reiterate here.
   The SA element can also be seemingly restrictive and like the NC element, will cause users to take a closer look at compatibility issues when drawing OER together for small or large projects. I hadn't given much attention to this before either.

After having read these articles and comments and blogs by students, I've come to the conclusion that if I was going to utilize CC licences, then it would only make sense to implement them for specific resources i.e. images, videos and slides. I'm not convinced that anyone would want to use a posting from this blog but rather individual elements. When the work has been created for educational purposes, then I'd have no concerns about using a CC BY licence because it seems to be the least likely to cause compatibility problems, can be adapted and repurposed to suit, enables maximum dissemination and I receive attribution. I would however, take time to analyse the consequences and weigh up the pros and cons before using a CC licence in my context. I find it's less complex from the perspective of a little OER creator and can certainly understand the logic underpinning other producers reasons for choosing a variety of  licences. I believe that context plays an important role here and is not to be underestimated.

Posted by Patricia Daniels


Common Craft (2013) Copyright and Creative Commons [online]. Available at video/ copyright-and-creative-commonsExternal link (accessed 4 April 2013).

Geffrotin, Y. (2007) Creative Commons: Spectrum of Rights [online], slidecast. Available at gya/ creative-commons-spectrum-of-rightsExternal link (accessed 5 April, 2013).

Moller, E. (2005) The Case for Free Use: Reasons Not to Use a Creative Commons - NC License [online]. Available at Licenses/ NCExternal link  (accessed 6 April, 2013).

Weller, M. (2012) ‘The openness–creativity cycle in education’, Special issue on Open Educational Resources, JIME, Spring 2012 [online]. Available at article/ view/ 2012-02 (accessed 5 April, 2013 ).

Wiley, D. (2007) On the Sustainability of Open Educational Resource Initiatives in Higher Education,Paris, OCED. Also available online at dataoecd/ 33/ 9/38645447.pdf
External link  (accessed 05. April, 2013)

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