An Introduction to Creative Commons

As Steve Wheeler suggests, people think that because the Web is open, everything within it is available to reuse for free, but it’s not. Copyright is a really difficult concept to fully understand, however the Creative Commons licenses make things a little easier for us lay-people.

The Creative Commons licenses (also part of a Copyleft movement) were introduced to support the sharing and ‘remixing’ of creative works (images, video, educational content, music, etc). Sites like YouTube, Flickr, Wikipedia and Vimeo encourage Creative Commons licensing – meaning there are now millions of assets licensed using the 4 key principles of Creative Commons;

  • Attribution – you must acknowledge the original author
  • Share-Alike – if you want to share a remixed version, it must equal or be compatible with the original license
  • No-Derivatives – content can be reused ‘as is’, but cannot be broken down or remixed
  • Non Commercial – cannot be used for commercial gain (Education use doesn’t count as commercial here, but there is a wider debate related to the confusion around this clause)

The Principles can be put together to maintain more control over works, i.e content that cannot be used for commercial gain AND cannot be edited or remixed; or authors can be more relaxed by simply using the Attribution principle alone.

It’s probably fair to say the Creative Commons has both supported the development, whilst being generative of, the Open Educational Resources (OER) Movement. This has resulted in a wealth of educational resources that can be freely reused or remixed. JISC and the HEA have funded a range of projects to stimulate the development of OER, which in turn has enhanced Jorum – a UK repository for teaching and learning content (licensed with Creative Commons). It is through such funded projects (JISC ReProduce Programme) that I first became involved with OER and learned more about the Creative Commons.

So how might it help you?

Even with the strictest of licenses, you can reuse the content for free in your teaching, as long as you attribute the original author. More often than not, you can download the content and upload (or link) from your Moodle units.

It’s possible to search for CC licensed objects from;

  • The Creative Commons Search page (obviously), and…
  • Google’s Advanced Search option includes filtering to allow searching for objects licensed by Creative Commons (including  images). The short video below runs through the steps of using Google Advanced Search (the video itself is of course licensed with the Creative Commons Attribution licence (CC-BY)).

Other well known (content-based) sites support Creative Commons by making whole courses available for reuse, such as;

More recent start-ups such as Khan Academy also include a wealth of videos (and other materials) under categories of Math, Science (inc. Comp Science) and Humanities. Furthermore, Flickr have a dedicated area for searching for Creative Commons images – something I’ve introduced to my own students in the past.

Watch out for the Creative Commons and Open Education, they are both growing!!!

If you are interested in learning more, please do get in touch.


We love creative commons image

We love Creative Commons image: CC BY Flickr user Steren.Giannini



2 responses to “An Introduction to Creative Commons

  1. Pingback: An introduction to Open Education | Technology Enhanced Learning in HLS·

  2. Pingback: Finding Images on the Web | Technology Enhanced Learning in HLS·

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