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Creative Commons: What every Educator needs to know

This slidecast by Rodd Lucier is a good intro into Creative Commons, with some nice and simple articulations on why its important for education. In particular, I found the point about “creative integrity” well put. Worth a listen.

The 4 page reader from the March issue of Linux Format is an excellent and concise round up of the wide range of perspectives towards the Creative Commons and copyright generally.

I very much appreciate the view of Frederick Noronha a journalist in India:

“There is an overall culture of
sharing knowledge here, even if this isn’t called ‘Creative
Commons’. We had the launch of CCIndia in early 2007, but
there seems to be little activity there… I think CC is a bit too
conservative and too respectful of copyright issues. Copyright
has not worked for us (in the developing world) for
generations. Generally speaking, copyright in any form,
including CC, doesn’t fit in too well with Asian ideas of
knowledge, since it enables those controlling knowledge and
information over the rest, and we find it impossible to emerge
winners in this game. It is a colonial law, not meant to serve
the interest of the people of those parts of the globe that are
not ahead in the information race! Why should we be as
respectful to it, as, say, Lawrence Lessig is?”

And I sympathise with the so called “radical” view expressed by Minhaaj R Rehman:

“Nobody in Pakistan knew about copyright, copyleft or CC
a decade ago. Even when academics knew about copyright,
they just didn’t deal with it, primarily because of eastern
tradition and religious injunctions of collectivism and open
literacy. CC and copyleft movements have made it harder,
here in Pakistan at least, for poor students and educators to
use books. Sure, they inspired academics to copyleft their
work, but at the same time, they convinced them that
copyright, which should never exist in the first place, is good.
Whereas content never belongs to anyone, as it comes from
previous experience and incremental learning. Here in the
east we need to abolish copyright, nothing less. That’s why I
don’t think CC is good for developing countries. To me, even
things like Richard Stallman’s FSF accepting support from
organisations like Unesco (which do nothing to fight the
problems I just mentioned), or Wikipedia’s profiteering by
asking for donation of $6 million this year are proofs that both
copyright and copyleft are partners in restricting human
rights and freedom”.

No doubt now and in the future, people will think of Creative Commons as when generosity began, and that will be a real shame. Creative Commons came about as a stop gap to the real radicalism in Copyright that was encroaching on those intuitive generosities that we in the West did in fact have, and used to enjoy.

Teachers I work with had no clue about Copyright 3 years ago, and photocopied and sampled digital work in blissful ignorance of copyright. Then came Creative Commons and evangelists like me, now we are all tormented by Copyright and feel the loss of those freedoms we used to have in our quiet corner of the world. But the law is the law I suppose. Pleading ignorance only goes so far, and doesn’t help the many people who we are sending out into the world.

The name itself, Creative Commons – refers to a forgotten tradition of such collective ownership and sharing, The Commons. But now CC is a brand in itself, over shadowing the perspectives like Minhaaj and Fredrick’s. It would be a whole lot simpler to adopt Minhaaj’s ethical line, and get back in touch with the freedoms we used to enjoy.

When MIT publish one it seems.

MIT have published a text called Opening Up Education, but under a copyright license that is one step short of All Rights Reserved. MIT is just not getting the message are they? They are not really about open education at all!

On the other hand, Utah State University in collaboration with the Commonwealth of Learning and individual designers have published the OER Handbook. Available under a free and practically nonrestrictive license, in both a wiki and a printed and bound text on Lulu.

I like to think that Utah followed Otago Polytechnic’s lead when we published Ruth Lawson’s Anatomy and Physiology of Animals text on Wikibooks, with lesson plans and activities on Wikieducator, and a printed version on

We are working on a number of other texts as we speak (not to mention videos and stuff all over the place!), all of it under CC By.

MIT should stop their work in “open courseware” and “open education” or risk influencing a second wave of OER developers to basically construct educational resources that may as well be All Rights Reserved and leave us in a position not much better than where we started.

Risks like the trend that MIT are setting necessitate a project like the Free Cultural Works Definition were it sets out to clearly delineate what is free and what is restrictive. It prevents by way of stating a principle, oganisations cashing in on the hard work of OER campaigners.

In my books, CC By is the only free license.

PS. It was way back in November 2004 we started to get suspicious of MIT