TL;DR Version: Creative Commons (CC) licensing of content allows creators and users of online, digital content to share while protecting/acknowledging the rights of others. This blog post is a supplement to my earlier post on CC licensing and identifies basic ways to CC license your content.
In my work I try to identify and disseminate the best practices as we read, write, and participate online. As we write and create online, I think we need to identify ways to license the materials that we share. In licensing of the content you create and share, you’re not only making sure that you receive credit, but also protect your work. I believe one of the best ways to post, promote, and protect your content is to use Creative Commons licensing as you create and connect online.
What is Creative Commons licensing?
In an earlier post I provided some guidance as to how to use and correctly cite content that has been given a Creative Commons (CC) license. I suggest reviewing those materials and correctly licensing CC licensed content before moving on to the content included in this post.
Initially CC licensing can be a bit hard to understand. Most of this is because we don’t spend a lot of time thinking about intellectual property, or exactly where our ideas will go. If we type up a paper, it is emailed to a teacher and in some cases is emailed back corrected. If we take a photo, it is saved on our computer and maybe printed out or shared with a friend. When we start sharing content openly online, we need to understand that our work can go anywhere…quickly.
Most times we don’t care about where our content is going…until we see someone using it that we don’t know. Let’s be proactive and consider how, and for what purposes, other people can use our content. My advice is to be proactive and designate your work with a CC license.
I also believe that teachers should educate their students about CC licenses and encourage them to use these indicia in their work. This is a great way to talk about copyright and intellectual property with students while ensuring that they don’t just copy & paste someone else’s work.
In short, CC licensing allows creators to indicate what rights they reserve, and which rights they waive for other users of their content. These rights include the ability to share, attribute, commercialize, and copy or remix your work.
What Creative Commons licenses are available?
Attribution – “CC BY”
This license lets others distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon a work, even commercially, as long as they credit the original author for the original creation. This is the most accommodating of licenses offered, in terms of what others can do with a work licensed under Attribution.
Attribution ShareAlike – “CC BY-SA”
This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon a work even for commercial reasons, as long as they credit the original author and license their new creations under the identical terms. This license is often compared to open source software licenses. All new works based on a work licensed this way will carry the same license, so any derivatives will also allow commercial use.
Attribution-NonCommercial – “CC BY-NC”
This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon a work non-commercially, and although their new works must also acknowledge the original author and be non-commercial, they don’t have to license their derivative works on the same terms.
Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike – “CC BY-NC-SA”
This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon a work non-commercially, as long as they credit the original author and license their new creations under the identical terms. Others can download and redistribute this work just like the by-nc-nd license, but they can also translate, make remixes, and produce new stories based on the work. All new work based on the original will carry the same license, so any derivatives will also be non-commercial in nature.
Attribution NoDerivatives – “CC BY-ND”
This license allows for redistribution, commercial and non-commercial, as long as it is passed along unchanged and in whole, with credit to the original author.
Attribution NonCommercial NoDerivatives – “CC BY-NC-ND”
This license is the most restrictive of the six main licenses, allowing redistribution. This license is often called the “free advertising” license because it allows others to download works and share them with others as long as they mention the original author and link back to them, but they can’t change them in any way or use them commercially.
How do I Creative Commons license my work?
This is actually very easy. The hardest part is understanding the differences between the licenses available. Below I share possible case uses involving some of the content (e.g., video, images) that I usually share on my blog or digital learning hub.
YouTube. If you’re uploading videos to YouTube, they usually automatically receive a “Standard YouTube License.” By opting for the “Creative Commons – Attribution” license in the “Advanced settings” section for each video, you allow other users online to use, edit, and remix your video. At this point this editing and remixing happens only within YouTube. Yes, you can still share, embed, and comment on videos with the Standard YouTube license. From my vantage point this CC licensing of videos in YouTube is only beneficial if you explicitly want people to remix and mashup your videos…or you’re a big proponent of CC licensing.
Flickr. If you’re uploading photos and sharing them online, using the photo sharing service Flickr allows you to easily save, share, and license your images. While logged in to Flickr you can easily apply a CC license to individual photos or entire albums. I use Google+ photos for personal photos. I also use Skitch and Evernote to back up work photos and screenshots. Images that I want to save or embed I’ll upload to my blog…but I’m starting to collect these in my Flickr account to encourage others to use content and screenshots that I create.
Google Docs. I have been recently sharing Google Docs publicly and allowing others to view or leave comments without signing in to Google. The rationale for this is that I want to be able to “crowd-source” comments, edits, and revisions before submitting work. I don’t personally use a CC license on this work, but I do indicate up in the title exactly who in responsible for the content and how to contact the authors. It is possible to choose a CC license and copy/paste it in the footer of the Google Docs page to indicate how you would like your work treated. I have been considering adding these elements, or a watermark to Google Doc pages in the future. Mainly this would be to indicate my support of CC licenses.
Blogging. This is the area that I think CC licensing is the most important. I mainly view my blog as a “thinking space” or a place to market my ideas and share with others. In many ways I believe your blog should be a reflective space in which you can promote your ideas if you so chose. I believe it’s important to understand the license that you are comfortable with and add the proper license to your blog. It does take a small amount of time, but I believe that it is important to review the steps involved in assigning a license, and make sure it is added to your blog. I use the Creative Commons Configurator plugin to add CC licensing to my WordPress site…it makes it super-simple.
Wikis/Websites. Along with your blog, I encourage educators to develop their own digital learning hub. In this partnership, the blog is the “thinking space” while the website is the “work space” or the “teaching space.” The teacher wiki or website, affectionately known as the “Hub” is the stored and archived space where all of your materials reside. These materials include lesson/unit plans, tutorials, links, worksheets, etc. These materials may change over time as you progressively include them in instruction and see what resonates with students. The blog is the space to “announce” changes or new materials added to the digital learning hub. Most of the teachers that I know frequently share their teaching materials…and love to borrow and revise materials they receive from others. Please make sure your mindset is indicated in your CC license of choice.
Please be thoughtful as you post content online. You may embrace the open sharing of content and not have a problem with just posting your materials online. By taking the time to add the CC license to your work you indicate the permissions and attributions that you give your work.
The CC license is also a sign to other progressive individuals online that you also are a savvy user of the Internet and care about intellectual property in a digital age. Finally, by embracing and licensing work using CC we promote the understanding and acceptance of a copyright system that not only acknowledges creation of content, but also empowers users to remix, or reuse your content.
Top Image CC by Wikipedia
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Also published on Medium.