Creative Commons is one of those really simple ideas that just works. It allows pupils and teachers alike to use digital content in their work safe in the knowledge that they are allowed to do so without fear of prosecution. But CC is facing a fight that we as educators cannot allow it to lose.
In case you are not aware of it, Creative Commons is a form of copyright that grants others a license to use content in their own work subject to a handful of very reasonable conditions. You do not have to seek permission to use the work, and you do not have to worry about ‘breaking the law’ if you use it as long as you follow these conditions.
Creative Commons licenses have also been ‘localised’ for many countries with more coming online all the time. My blog is licensed under CC:Scotland, and I am very happy with that… especially as the world does keep lumping Scotland in with the UK which is farcical given that Education is one of the areas where there is a vast difference between what we do in Scotland compared to the rest of the UK! (That sounds like a cue for another post!).
The CC Wiki has a pretty good ‘cartoon’ explanation of CC that you are free to take, read, and share… Indeed, with a wee bit of work, it would make a pretty good Digital Copyright lesson. The beauty of CC is that you are allowed to do exactly that. The CC wiki also has a page dedicated to Open Educational Resources. These are, “…learning materials that are freely available to use, remix, and redistribute.” In short, CC is an idea that is right and works.
And now it is under threat.
Thanks to BoingBoing I heard about plans by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation to prohibit the use of CC content in its podcasts. On the surface, CBC are doing so for the right reasons: much of the CC licensed music produced is labelled as ‘non-commercial’ and so would not be permitted for dissemination through a commercial channel (ie: a paid podcast from iTunes)… The CC Wiki has a measured response to the case, and I should be able to sleep easy having read it… but… I still think this control over re-use of CC materials is a loophole that it won’t take many businesses long to exploit to the detriment of CC.
A little over a year ago, I wrote a post that touched on a lot of nerves. Is The Glow Dimming? covered many bases, but the one that really got the tongues wagging was the knowledge that, to all intents and purposes, your employer owns the copyright in work you produce for the school you teach in. One of the best possible workarounds to this was to use CC materials in all you create because then the CC license has to be applied to the derivative work. But suppose our employers were to turn round and tell us that we couldn’t use CC materials because they wanted to commercialise them (as is, apparently) their right? Suddenly, we could be deprived of material that we can legally “remix, tweak, and build upon” and all because it is easier for an employer to say “no” than to say “yes”. I hope I’m wrong!
As a useful postscript, I thought I’d share some sites where you can find CC content for reusing in your classroom. The list is not exhaustive, but will point you at some resources you can use today!
- Little Brother by Cory Doctorow – NB: This is a great novel, you can download as a PDF, for free, that will play on an e-reader (like a Kindle/iPad/iPod Touch) and that BOYS WILL LOVE! Who says we have problems getting boys to read? Maybe you just need to find the right books?
- ProPublica – Journalism for you to use…
- Gutenberg Project – Lots of ‘out of copyright’ books. Think of it as the place where the classics go to be revived!
You can find CC music for your projects here:
- Flickr: Creative Commons
- Flickr: The Commons – This is a fantastic collection of photographs shared by some of the worlds’ leading museums and galleries including The National Galleries of Scotland. Highly recommended!
- FlickrCC – A nifty search engine for finding CC images on flickr and written by the always brilliant John Johnston
There are many other sources for CC materials… please feel free to share your favourites in the comments!
[UPDATE: Thanks to Theo Kuechel for alerting me to the new Public Domain Mark launched yesterday. It is designed to cover work that: “…has been identified as being free of known restrictions under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights.” This will be a useful addition to finding useable resources for all sorts of projects.]