Wednesday, 12 October 2011

The confusion surrounding CC

Well, it's no wonder that people are confused by the little CC that appears from time to time. lists 427 possibilities plus another 250 in their archives.  When I was younger, CC was something that my father poured a couple of fingers of when he sat down to watch the Leafs game.  Since then, I've CC'd people when I e-mailed and have also seen two C's when I used to watch TV.  On Tuesday, our 8Y59 class was fortunate enough to have Rodd Lucier pop by via elluminate to discuss the meaning and implications of Creative Commons licensing.

He started off by discussing another pairs of C's - our culture of cheating.  In a world where most games have cheat codes and many people choose to download music and movies, we have found ways to make cheating more acceptable to ourselves.  We have the philosophical reasoning courtesy of Thomas Aquinas in his Summa Theologica:  "If [a human law] conflicts with natural law in any way, then it is not a law but a corruption of law."  Then there's the slightly sophistic argument that in the real world, we'll have access to resources so why is it necessary to memorize things for a test.  With videos on Youtube teaching us how to cheat on tests, there are many incentives and arguments as to why cheating could be seen as not such a bad thing.

Traditionally, copyright was granted to the creator of something for 50 years beyond his or her death which afforded the artist 'all rights reserved' protection.  Once this copyright expired, the creation became public domain, which allows us all of those wonderful and free downloads of classic literature from Project Gutenberg.   Mmmm ... free classic books ... my Kobo loves this provision.  But, some artists may wish to offer people rights to use their work before it becomes public domain.  Some artists and musicians have recognized that "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery."  Others see the marketing  possibilities of allowing people to use their creations as a means to getting the word out.  And to fill the gap between all rights reserved and public domain, Creative Commons licensing was defined.

There are two basic permissions in Creative Commons licensing along with three conditions applied.  The artist can offer permission TO SHARE the material with another and / or the artist can give permission TO REMIX the material into another creation.  In other words, the artist may allow someone to keep the creation unchanged and give it to another person and / or may allow someone to change his or her creation to be incorporated into another person's piece of art.  The first possible condition is to ASK FOR ATTRIBUTION; so by note or link, the person who is using another person's creation gives credit to the original creator.  The second possible condition is allowing or disallowing COMMERCIAL USE; many artists will allow free use of pictures (on blogs, woo hoo) but will disallow use if you expect to profit from the use of their creation.  Finally, there is the condition to SHARE ALIKE; basically, the artist is saying that you got the original work of art for free so please extend the same courtesy to others.  These permissions aren't carved in stone - the creator always has the option of changing their permissions and conditions at any time.

Overall, Creative Commons licenses are becoming far more prevalent.  Youtube has become quite vigilant when it comes to copyright protection and adhering to peoples Creative Commons wishes.  Take a look at an image in Wikipedia and they will advise whether it's part of their wiki commons, or if some rights have been reserved and the image is being used by Wikipedia under certain permissions and provisions.  Flickr now prominently displays the Creative Commons licensing with all images posted to the site.

In response to Creative Commons licensing, many sites now offer services that echo creative commons permissions. has a playlist of music that is available for people to incorporate into their works of art.  The Prelinger Archives contains a series of movies that are in the public domain.  Sal Khan's Academy allows teachers to incorporate his lesson plans into their own presentations.

Rodd ended his presentation with a confirmation that Creative Commons licensing presents an important learning opportunity for our students.  Many of us learned a great deal through Rodd's presentation, and he reminded us that our students and teacher colleagues would likely benefit from greater familiarity with Creative Commons licensing.


  1. Your blog is really good, but I would suggest maybe making the posts a bit shorter. It's just a lot to read. Other than that, I love it.

  2. Thanks for dropping by Jessica and I really do appreciate the feedback. I'm hoping that as I move to techniques and tools (teaching block in 2 weeks!!!), my posts will get a lot shorter. For now, thanks for your patience.

  3. Creative commons is a huge topic. I'm glad that Rodd was able to discuss it with your class. I think we have a long way to go in terms of educating not only our students about it, but also current teachers. Many teachers would not accept written work that was 'stolen' from the internet. At the same time they seem to have no problems 'stealing' photos or videos from the web to use in their course material. I think for the most part this type of 'stealing' is unintentional and if they were aware of the connection between using a photo and somebody's written work they would be more willing to change.

    I think if more teachers knew about creative commons, they would be more likely to works that were so licensed and to teach their students about it.