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Creative Commons vs Copyright

This week we have been drawing up a draft of Terms and Conditions for Cloudworks prior to sending it to the legal team. I have spent some time over the last week or so looking at the advantages and disadvantages of Creative Commons; this is a bit of a hot topic at the moment and there's plenty  of opinion out there! The Media Institute published an article Public Licences: the Gift that Keeps on Giving a couple of weeks ago and which seems to fairly objectively summarise the pros and cons. I have also tried to find workable alternatives to CC, and the only one I have found seems quite clumsy - the default position would be 'traditional' copyright, and contributors would need to agree/ not agree to sharing (and agree the conditions of any sharing) each time they set up a Cloudscape or commented on a Cloud. I have come to realise that whatever approach we choose to use (and especially  if we choose Creative Commons) it will be important to ensure that contributors are well informed in a variety of ways, with links and explanations throughout the site and in supporting materials.

It is worth noting that Cloudworks doesn't support file sharing, so all documents, slidehows, videos etc currently linked to will be seperately covered by the Terms and Conditions of the website they sit in. The Cloudworks Terms and Conditions would however apply to photos/images, Cloudscape descriptions and Cloud comments. And, if we ever decide to support file sharing in the future, the licence would apply to those too. We had expected to use a document pretty much identical to OpenLearn, however, we have come up against a number of issues that are bothering us in relation to using a Creative Commons licence. The biggest of these is the application of CC retrospectively to previously submitted contents. We can send emails to all contributors advising them of the new Terms and Conditions, and asking them to confirm that they are happy for the licence to apply to their contributions. We could assume that contributors to a public site would expect open access and use of their ideas and views etc, and if they didn't respond we could assume acceptance - but we couldn't be sure that the email would have been recieved. If our default position is that we remove material from those who don't get back to us, then we may lose a great deal of interesting and engaging material from the site.

The second issue (if we decide to go down the CC route) is around which strand, or combination of strands, of the licence to use. The key purpose of Cloudworks is to allow users to share, adapt and comment on learning design, so getting the balance is very important. OpenLearn have gone for the Attribution-Non-Commerciaal-Share Alike strand, which personally I think is probably right for Cloudworks, but I accept that some contributors may not want to see adaptations of their ideas, comments or pictures/designs freely shared. This is an ongoing issue for us and user comments would be gratefully recieved!

  Posted by Rebecca Galley on 21 July 2009

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