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Creative Commons March 6, 2010

Posted by fafeeley in Uncategorized.

I fell WAY behind in my Technology Elite work in part due to my ski trip and in part due to the feeling I get in my stomach when I think too much about copyright law and the role of librarians as the guardians and enforcers of said laws. Let’s face it, it’s murky stuff! Many of our constituents – teachers, students, and administrators – often just don’t want to hear about it! And I have just reached the point where my students don’t respond to references to bibliographies and citations with blank unknowing open-mouthed stares. I am not eager to add more layers of complexity to a responsibility they often meet grudgingly.

So on to Creative Commons! I think I have made this more difficult than it had to be. But on the other hand I still have many questions that I hope to have answered at our next LIVE meeting on March 11.

Creative Commons is a free online service that provides a mechanism for creators and users of information of all kinds to share their work and/or borrow, use, and adapt others’ work within a range of parameters chosen by the creators. The videos provided on the website (which I definitely plan to share with my middle school students) provide an excellent introduction to the concepts:


We  Technology ELITE participants were required to create a print pamphlet, brochure, or bookmark to promote student awareness of and proper use of Creative Commons licensing. That part wasn’t so difficult, although I did struggle with downloading the graphic images provided by the site. I still don’t know why that was so hard.

What I struggled with even more was generating a Creative Commons license for this blog. There were step-by-step instructions for how to do it with various other blogging services, but none for WordPress.com. The Creative Commons website generates html that when uploaded properly to a blog or other website will display the Creative Commons licensing selected by the creator. I have not managed to do it and have put it off for another day.

I also tried to generate Creative Commons licenses for the hundreds and hundreds of photos I have posted on FLICKR. The Creative Commons site lists FLICKR as an online environment where CC licensing is being used on a large scale. I was unable to find any instruction on how to establish CC licensing on the Creative Commons site or the FLICKR site. I submitted a letter requesting help with this issue to FLICKR.

At this point I see my students using Creative Commons more as information creators than as users. Our assignment referred to “seeking written permission to use items not covered in Creative Commons (even if covered by Fair Use).” But I don’t quite understand why the innovation of Creative Commons would have any impact on longstanding Fair Use practices.

I will need to work out a lot more about this service before I introduce it to students. The copyright concepts are fairly clear to me, but right now I am really struggling with the mechanics.

On a much more enthusiastic note, I really like the way the information on the Creative Commons website (especially the videos) frames the worldwide exchange of information and its exciting potential for productivity and creativity. It’s truly in the spirit of Web 2.0 – everybody with online access is a potential creator and contributor. The website appeals to the sense of importance of everybody’s work – from doodles on a napkin to a video posted online. It illustrates the vast possibilities for accelerating production and creativity once legal hassles are reduced among creators who are eager to share. This approach worked for me. I tried to get on board and attach CC licensing to my own online work before I even attempted my homework!



1. Danielle - March 6, 2010

I am a big fan of Creative Commons. Anyone with an online presence should know about it and use it. On Flickr, you can set a default license for your photos by using this link:


In addition, you can change the license for individual photos based on your preference. In the right sidebar of each photo, at the bottom, there is some “Additional Information,” and the first link under that heading is one which will allow you to edit your photo’s Creative Commons license if you wish!

Great post, Fran!

2. Lisa Perez - March 7, 2010

Fran: You raise some great questions and it seems you are thinking a lot about CC licensing. For me, I think the best approach with students is to couch it is such a way that it opens up the world for them and all of the ways they can use works created by others-a new freedom. In regard to fair use, I think CC is a bit more broad in scope. It is meant to convey usage outside of the educational world, too. And, in some cases the new user can even make money of a derivative work. Thanks for your thoughts!

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