Module 7. Open Licensing

This module provides a brief overview of open licensing and how to share copyrighted work in a manner that is both open and allow sthe author to retain desired controls.

You can share copyrighted materials under an open license

Open licenses have arisen as a means for openly sharing content while at the same time preserving desired rights to the author. Open licenses find a nice balance between the restrictions of copyright and the unfettered freedoms of public domain, making them a good option for anyone desiring to share their work with others.

Copyleft

The term copyleft arose out of the software development community for use with software code, but the ideas behind it can be applied to other creative intellectual works as well.

As you watch this video, consider:

  • How can you be an open educator and still respect and benefit from copyright laws?
  • How does copyleft use copyright to support openness?
  • How might releasing your own creative works under a copyleft license be superior to releasing them into the public domain?
  • How can copyleft help to prevent exploitation of copyrighted materials?
"Most copyright holders use copyright to restrict the uses of their [proprietary works]. Copyleft, by contrast, is a reliance on copyright law to ensure that the [work] is freely available for use, modification, and derivative works creation and distribution."
- Todd Harris

Authors of creative works have the right to release those works under any license they choose (except in cases where they have signed over that right to a publisher, employer, etc.). Copyleft allows authors to release a work to be reused and remixed by others under the condition that they allow others to do the same, thereby ensuring ongoing sharing.

Common Copyleft Licenses
NameImageLinks
GNU General Public License (GNU-GPL) GNU Logo
MIT License MIT Logo

Creative Commons

Creative Commons Logo Though copyleft license have been valuable for sharing software, sometimes authors of creative works want more control over what others can do with their work or they want to give other users even more freedom by not requiring them to share their work with others. To help authors to release their works easily and in a manner that safeguard the rights that they care about, a number of template licenses have been created by Creative Commons. Many works found on the internet are licensed under one of these types of licenses, and in general, you do not need permission to use them in your work as long as you properly attribute (cite) them and abide by any additional requirements set forth in the license.

Creative Commons licenses come in a number of varieties. Two are merely restatements of Public Domain, while the rest provide the author of a work the ability to retain varying levels of control of how the work may be used. The most general Creative Commons license is the CC BY or Creative Commons Attribution license, which basically means that others are free to reuse, redistribute, revise, and remix the creation as long as they properly cite the author. More information about each license is provided in the following table.

Creative Commons License Brief Explanation Table
Short NameFull NameImageBrief Explanation
Public Domain Mark Public Domain - By Age Creative Commons Logo These works are not susceptible to copyright or their copyright has expired.
CC 0 Public Domain - Released Creative Commons Logo These works are released to the public domain by their authors before the copyright has expired.
CC BY Creative Commons Attribution Creative Commons Logo

Others may reuse, redistribute, revise, and remix the creation as long as they cite you.

 

CC BY-SA Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike Creative Commons Logo Others may reuse, redistribute, revise, and remix the creation as long as they cite you and share their creation under an identical license.
CC BY-ND Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs Creative Commons Logo Others may reuse and redistribute the creation as long as they cite you. They may not remix it or revise it.
CC BY-NC Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial Creative Commons Logo Others may reuse, redistribute, revise, and remix the creation as long as they cite you, but they may not use your creation for commercial purposes.
CC BY-NC-SA Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike Creative Commons Logo Others may reuse, redistribute, revise, and remix the creation as long as they cite you and share their creation under an identical license. They may not use your creation for commercial purposes.
CC BY-NC-ND Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs Creative Commons Logo Others may reuse and redistribute the creation as long as they cite you. They may not remix it, revise it, or use it for commercial purposes.

Finding Resources

In general, copyleft and creative commons licenses value open practices in that they seek to allow for works to be reused, redistributed, revised, and remixed, but licenses vary based upon what is required of the user to do so legally. For instance, the Creative Commons Attribution license (or CC-BY) requires the user of the work to give appropriate credit, to provide links to the license, and to not suggest that the original author endorses any new use of the resource. More details on specific Creative Commons licenses are provided in the Attribution Quick Reference Guide.

There are a number of libraries, search engines, and search engine settings that allow you to easily search for copyleft-licensed works. Some popular examples include:

Copyright imageIf a work (e.g., picture, song, video, lesson plan, rubric) does not have a statement of copyright status attached to it, you should generally assume that it is copyrighted and should seek permission before using it.

Share

As the author, you can release your creative works under an open license. All you need to do is place the Creative Commons license on your work, and this allows others to know how to use it. For example, by simply placing "CC BY 3.0" below a picture, you give anyone the right to use it for any purpose as long as they attribute you as the author.

Learning Check

  1. Copyleft licensed works:
    1. May be used for any non-commercial purpose.
    2. May be used for any purpose as long as derivative works are cited and released under a similar license.
    3. May be used for any purpose as long as they are cited.
    4. May be used for any purpose as long as they are not changed.
  2. A proper citation for a Creative Commons work includes:
    1. The license
    2. The author
    3. The source (e.g., URL)
    4. All of the above
  3. A CC BY license:
    1. Means that the work may be used for any purpose as long as the author is cited.
    2. Is more restrictive than a copyleft license.
    3. Is the same as a public domain release.
    4. Requires you to seek permission from the author before you can use the work.
  4. SA stands for:
    1. Stand Alone
    2. Share Alike
    3. Seek Approval
    4. Standard Agreement
  5. ND stands for:
    1. No Derivatives
    2. Needing Determination
    3. Non-Disclosure
    4. Normal Distribution
  6. NC stands for:
    1. No Citation
    2. Needing Clearance
    3. Non-Commercial
    4. Normal Citation
  7. Which license is the most free/open?
    1. CC BY
    2. CC BY-SA
    3. CC BY-NC
    4. CC BY-NC-ND

  1. b - Since it emerged from the software community, copyleft is primarily interested in ensuring that the work (e.g., code) is always free to edit.
  2. d - Proper citations require all of these items.
  3. a - The "BY" means that only an author citation is needed to reuse, redistribute, or remix the content (even commercially).
  4. b - Similar to a copyleft license, the work must be shared under a similar license.
  5. a - The work must be shared in its original form. For instance, you cannot add a mustache to an image.
  6. c - The work cannot be sold or included in another work that is sold.
  7. a - Licenses become more restrictive and less free/open as more conditions are placed upon them.