Adding Creative Commons licenses to Kaltura MediaSpace videos

I’ve been working on an internal BCcampus project to set up and configure Kaltura MediaSpace for our internal use. We have a number of use cases, not the least of which are providing a central hosting space for videos created as part of a grant associated with the BC Open Textbook Project. Since these videos will be openly licensed (as is everything we create at BCcampus), I want there to be a visible Creative Commons license with each video to let users know the terms of usage for each video.

Out of the box, MediaSpace has a lot of functionality, but the ability to apply a Creative Commons license to a video is not one of them. So, with a bit of consultation with my colleague (and knower of all Kaltura secrets) Jordi Hernandez at UBC, I was able to add a basic CC license field to the videos we host in Mediaspace.

It is actually a pretty straightforward 2 step process. First, you need to create custom metadata fields in the Kaltura Management Console (KMC), then you have to enable the fields in the Kaltura Mediaspace administration console.

I am using an OnPrem service of Kaltura. The MediaSpace instance I am working on is 5.38.07.

Create Custom Fields in the KMC

After logging into the KMC, I went to Settings > Custom Data. This is where I will set up the custom data scheme and define the CC licenses. Click Add New Schema to create a new Creative Commons Metadata Schema. Give your Schema a name, description and a system name. The system name should be one word and short. We want each video to be able to have their own CC license, so we want this metadata schema to apply to Entries and not Categories.

Once you have the Schema set up, you will want to add the actual licenses as field values. Choose Add field and enter in the different CC licenses that you want to make available to your users. These are the options they will see when they upload a new video, and what people who view the video will see on the screen associated with the video. I chose to make my list a Text Select List so that it would appear as a drop down menu for the person uploading the video.

One nice feature of the custom metadata schemas in Kaltura is that you can enable these items to be searched for in the built in search engine. So, with CC licensed material, someone could come to our video portal site and search for nothing but CC0 videos in our collection. I haven’t explored this fully yet, but it does seem to work at a granular level. Which is both good and bad. Good if you want to search for a specific type of CC licensed content in our collection, like a CC0 or CC-BY video. But not so great if you wanted to search for all CC licensed videos regardless of flavour.

Once that is done, the Schema is setup and we can now slip over to MediaSpace to apply it.

Add the custom fields to the upload form in MediaSpace

I logged into the MediaSpace admin console. The area we want to play in is called Customdata. It may appear with a line through it in your admin console. That just means that the module has not been activated.

Go into the Customdata module and make sure it is enabled. In the profileid field, you should be able to find the custom metadata schema that you just created in the KMC. Choose that. You can also make the field a required field and, if you wish, enable the showInSearchResults field to enable the search index.


That’s it. Save the changes and you now have added a custom CC license field to your videos. When someone uploads a video to MediaSpace, they will have an additional field in a dropdown menu that they can choose a CC license to apply to the video.

And, when people come to view the video in the MediaSpace site, they will see that the video is licensed with a Creative Commons license.

Now when we upload a video to our MediaSpace site, we can assign it a Creative Commons license that people can see.

Good first step

For me, this is a good first step that gives us the option to apply a visual marker to the video in MediaSpace. However, what would be great (and I am not sure that this can be done) would be to have that CC license metadata embedded in the page in the correct metadata format for CC licenses. This would ensure that it would be found in search engines when people search for CC licensed content.

The second improvement would be to somehow embed that CC license metadata right in the video so that if some were to take a copy of this video, the original license information would go along with the actual video when they downloaded it. Doubt that is possible, but that would be a great feature for organizations like ours that produce a lot of openly licensed content.

Finally, I think that it might be a good idea to add a visual bumper as part of the video that would spell out the CC license. It is what we currently do with our videos, and is good practice to help make it clear that the content is openly licensed.

Photo: CC Stickers by Kristina Alexanderson CC-BY


Looking for Canadian Creative Commons projects

If you have been involved with the Creative Commons community, you will have no doubt run into Kelsey Wiens.

Kelsey was a Canadian ex-pat working in South Africa, and was deeply involved in Creative Commons South Africa. Kelsey was also the driving force behind Open Textbooks for Africa.

Earlier this year, Kelsey relocated from South Africa back to Canada and I have been working with her (and others, like CIPPIC) to reinvigorate interest in the Canadian Creative Commons affiliate. With Toronto hosting the 2017 Creative Commons Global Summit (mark the dates April 25-28, 2017), it would be great to have an energized local affiliate representing the host country.

There are some really interesting projects happening at Creative Commons these days, not the least of which is the CC Certification program that Alan Levine is working on with Paul Stacey. Paul is also co-authoring a book on open business models with Sarah Pearson.

One of the projects that Kelsey and I are working on is developing a map of open projects in Canada to try to get a better understanding as to where the pockets of openness are happening across the country. The CC Canada community is well represented by educators (especially post-secondary educators)  and we have a pretty good idea as to what some of the major open education projects that are happening across the country. But Creative Commons is much more than Open Educational Resources, and it is those other areas where we are trying to find pockets of openness.

So, if you are involved with a Canadian based Open Access, Open Data, Open Government, or Open Source Software project, please take a few seconds and connect with us by filling out this short form. I am especially interested in finding out about Canadian GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums) projects that might be using Creative Commons licenses.

Please feel free to share with your networks, and help us map Canadian open projects.

Photo: Creative Commons 10th anniversary by Timothy Vollmer CC-BY


What would you do with a Creative Commons certificate?

I’ve been following the development of a Creative Commons certificate since last fall. Paul Stacey from Creative Commons paid a visit to the BCcampus office looking for some feedback on a DACUM-inspired curriculum process he was leading, and on the potential value of a CC certificate.

Developing a certificate program that is flexible enough to consider all the potential use cases for Creative Commons is (I think) one of the biggest challenges. While we in higher ed look at CC licenses as a way to enable the development and sharing of curricular resources and open access research, the use cases outside of academia are wide and varied. CC is used by authors, musicians, filmmakers, photographers, and other types of artists. Governments are using Creative Commons licenses, as well as galleries, libraries, archives and museums (GLAM), furniture design3D printing & manufacturing, and even in game design.

Earlier this year, Alan Levine was brought on board to assist with the process, and it’s great to see some progress being made on the development of a Creative Commons certificate. Alan has asked for some help from the community to seed a website with some videos on how a CC certificate could be applied and used.

One of the ways that I could see my organization, BCcampus, using a CC certificate program is to help us vet grant applications. Over the years, BCcampus has supported the development of open educational resources (open courseware with the old OPDF program and the current open textbook project) by coordinating grant program. A number of institutions get together and collaborate to create open courses or open textbooks that can be freely shared with others. As a condition of the grant, those creating the resources have to agree to release their material with a Creative Commons license. Often when people apply for a development grant, they are either not familiar with Creative Commons, or often have a very cursory knowledge of how the licenses work, so BCcampus often takes on the role of providing support and training to the grantees, depending on their level of knowledge of Creative Commons.

Having a certificate program from CC would help with the application vetting process. Additionally, with some CC certified standards to align with, I think the community could develop some fantastic openly licensed learning resources to support the CC approved learning objectives. It could become a model of OER production and sustainability if we all begin to build on each others work.

If you have a use case for a CC certificate, take a minute, record a video and let Alan know. Here is my response.


Selling your CC licensed content isn't pointless. It's a sustainability model.

Picked up a Raspberry Pi for my son for Christmas and been searching for some projects to do over the holidays. I came across the Official Raspberry Pi Projects book and downloaded a Creative Commons licensed PDF copy of the book from the RPi site.

While downloading the book, I noticed that the Raspberry Pi Foundation (the non-profit charity that supports the development and use of the Raspberry Pi as a computing literacy tool) publishes a monthly magazine called MagPi, available in print and digital, also published with a CC-BY-NC-SA license. I popped over to the Google Play site to take a look at the app and was disappointed by the first 2 reviews of the app that I read.

payCCIt’s not pointless. In fact, it is exactly the opposite. What the Raspberry Pi Foundation is doing is an important piece of their organizational sustainability plan. When you purchase the app, you don’t buy the articles, you support the organization.

It reminded me of an observation that Paul Stacey from Creative Commons made about the writings of Joshua Farley and Ida Kubiszewski in the book Free Knowledge?—?Confronting the Commodification of Human Discovery. Farley and Kubiszewski write,

Conventional economics typically assume that consumption provides utility and what we pay for the goods we consume is an objective measure of the utility they provide.

To which Paul replies:

I find this weird in so many ways. Let me highlight just one – consumption provides utility. Under this logic a tree has no utility unless it is cut down and “consumed”. I expect all of you question the logic of this. A tree can provide great utility without being consumed. It provides shade on a hot day, its leaves cleanse the air we breath, its branches provide homes for birds, its roots prevent erosion, and to many it is a thing of beauty. To assert that a tree has no utility if it is not consumed is, to me, a bizarre premise.

To assume that there is no value in paying for content that you can get for free reflects this “consumption provides utility” economic perspective. To the reviewers, purchasing the app has no utility for them since they can get the content elsewhere for free. They even go a step further and question the wisdom of others who might actually pay for the app. Why do that?

They’ve missed the point.

This is not a traditional utilitarian purchase where you exchange money for a thing. You are not actually buying a thing, but instead supporting the entire organization that keeps the thing going.

In order for this business model to work, however, we have to recognize that when we see an organization that both sells and gives away their stuff for free that this is an important piece of their business model at work, and a path to financial sustainability built on open licenses.  It is not a traditional transactional deal. You are not buying the stuff. You are supporting the entire system that makes the stuff possible. It is a difference that the 2 reviewers of the MagPi app have sadly missed.


US Court Ruling Adds Clarity to Creative Commons License

Last week there was an important US court ruling that helps to legally clarify the freedoms and limitations of Creative Commons licenses. While it is a US court ruling, I think the ruling is still useful here in Canada as the global body of legal decisions involving  CC licenses is fairly small, so any legal interpretation is a useful thing.

In essence, the court decided that a company that used a CC licensed photograph did not violate the photographers copyright to that photo because the photographer licensed their photo with a CC-BY-SA (Share-Like) license, and the company did not use the photo outside of what the CC-BY-SA license allowed. Or, as the TechDirt byline nicely states “from the but-I-didn’t-think-anyone-would-do-the-thing-I-told-them-they-could-do! dept”.

A photographer named Art Dragulis uploaded a photo to Flickr with a CC-BY-SA license. A company called the Kappa May Group then took that photo and used it as a cover image on an atlas they produced and subsequently sold. Dragulis said that Kappa May violated his copyright by using his photo on the cover of an atlas that they then sold. He also stated that Kappa May didn’t attribute him correctly.

The court, however, disagreed with the photographer, saying that the -SA license does not prevent his photo from being used for commercial activity, primarily because CC licenses have an explicit Non-Commercial clause that he could have applied instead of the -SA clause.

The court ruling also supports how I have always interpreted the -SA clause, and that the -SA clause only applies to derivatives of the original work, and not to a collection that the original work is used in. That is, the original licensed item must be modified in some way that makes it different than the original before it needs to be shared back with a CC-SA license. In this case, the original photo was not modified and was used without alterations, so there is no obligation for the atlas company to re-share the photo. Nor is there a requirement for the company to release the entire atlas with a share-alike CC license as the ruling states that the atlas is not a derivative of the photo simply because the photo was used in the atlas. Instead, the courts considered the atlas a “collection” and the cover image is simply one item in that collection, therefore the entire atlas does not have to be released with a CC-BY-SA license.

This is important because this case will help people understand how items licensed with the -SA clause can be used. This has always been a bit tricky for people working with -SA licensed materials; if I use something with an -SA clause, do I have to release everything I create with that -SA licensed material with an -SA clause? As this ruling shows, no, you do not.

Additionally, it shows that an -SA work does not undercut the financial incentive for someone to use your work, thus somehow “protecting” your work from being used for commercial purposes.  For example, in this case, the photographer may have mistakenly believed that, by adding an -SA license to his photo, that he was removing the commercial incentive for anyone to profit from his work. That is, anyone *could* use his photo for commercial purposes, but they would then also have to freely make available a CC-BY-SA licensed version of their work, thus undercutting their own commercial use of his work. Why would a commercial organization use -SA content when it just meant they would have to release what they created for free? As this court ruling shows, this is not how -SA works when the -SA item is used in a collection and you can use -SA content for commercial purposes when used within a collection.

But more broadly (and more importantly) I think that this case hilights the general disconnect with how people expect (or hope) a CC clause works, and how that clause may actually work. Another recent example of this disconnect is the kerfuffle Flickr found itself in when it announced that it would sell wall art based on 50 million CC licensed photos that had been uploaded to the site by Flickr users. After the community protested, Flickr backed down even though Flickr had the legal right to use those photos under the terms of the CC licenses.

Now, I agree that just because you have the legal right to do something doesn’t mean you should just rush ahead and do it, especially if you are a major corporation. Flickr could have handled this better and rolled their program out in a way that would have benefited both Flickr and the community. I mean, c’mon Flickr, why not compensate the photographers who have their photos used?

But commercial use, like the -SA clause, is one of those clauses that has always been a bit tricky because what is “commercial” is often interpreted in different ways. For some, releasing content with a non-commercial (-NC) clause means absolutely no commercial activity whatsoever. For these purists (for lack of a better term), anyone using their content for any reason where money changes hands is not ok. For those purists who licenses with an -NC license, this may mean even using their photo in a way that might say, raise money for a charity or a non-profit, or offset legitimate costs, like the cost of printing is a no-go.

For others who choose the -NC clause for their material, they may define -NC more closely to the phrase “non-corporate” than “non-commercial” in that they don’t want something they create being used by a private company, but would be ok for a charity or another educator or a non-profit to use for something like fundraising. Still others use -NC to mean “not for profit” but would be ok with charging for a cost recovery. To the point, -NC is an attribute that is open to interpretation, and people often interpret it through their own lens and context.

While there are certainly prevailing attitudes within the CC community as to how to interpret the different CC clauses, the fact remains that working with CC licenses is theoretically simple, but practically complex because we are dealing with law and law is complex. And while CC per se is not law, it does have legal implications because it is so closely tied to copyright law.

Which is why I think that this court ruling is important. The wider CC community needs more legal decisions like Deagulis vs Kappa May to help bring greater certainty and clarity to the many nuances of working with CC licenses. More clarity through legal decisions helps to clear up some of the ambiguity, which ultimately makes it easier to work with the licenses because the community then has something very clear to point to and say, “this is what -SA means”.

Kevin Smith at Duke University has an excellent post about this specific case.


Photos for Class provides safe search and auto-attribute for Flickr images

Came across a site that may be a good one for k12 teachers looking for a way to safely search Flickr for Creative Commons material, and for anyone looking for an easy way to attribute Flickr photos.

Photos for Class is a site that uses a combination of Flickr’s Safe Search filter and a few in house filters and allow you to search Flickr for G rated CC licensed photos. Which is useful in itself, especially if you are in a k12 environment. But the bit that everyone will find useful about Photo for Class is that when you download the photo, the CC attribution is automatically added to the image using the CC recommend TASL (Title, Artist, Source, License) format for correct attributions. Which works great if you are simply wanting to find and use an image without modifying it.

I did a quick search for the phrase totem pole and came up with a number of images.With each image there is an option to download, view on Flickr or report (if an inappropriate image has slipped through the filtering process, there is community moderation). I downloaded the first result and got this photo with the attribution automatically added at the bottom of the photo.


One of the things I hear often from people new to Creative Commons licenses is how to attribute resources. Here is a nice tool that makes it very easy to find and correctly attribute a CC licensed photo on Flickr. There are other tools, like the OpenAttribute browser plugin, the Washington State Open Attribution Builder and Alan Levine’s Flickr specific attribution bookmarklet also available to help make it easier to attribute CC resources correctly.

h/t to Dr. Jo Badge blog post on teaching children about Creative Commons licenses.


Add a Creative Commons search widget to a site

Been meaning to post this code snippet for awhile. Maarten Zeinstra posted this bit of code to the CC-Community listsrv last fall. It allows you to embed a Creative Commons search form on a webpage. This form will launch a CC search on a number of different search engines, including Google, Flickr, the Wikimedia Commons and YouTube. The form also allows you constrain the search based on the different types of reuse restrictions.

The search box works like this:

Enter your search query:
use for commercial purposes;
modify, adapt, or build upon.
Search using:

If I use the above form and search Google Images (for example), the results of the image search from Google Images will already be filtered and will only include items that are cc’d license based.

For example, if I use the search form above & Google Images for the term “database” and click both the “use for commercial purposes” and “modify, adapt or build on”, the results I get look like this:


The results from Google Images are already filtered based on the code restrictions.

The code snippet is:

<form target="_blank" name="CC_Search" action="" method="get">
Enter your search query: <input type="text" name="query"><br><br>
<input type="checkbox" name="comm" value=""> use for commercial purposes;<br>
<input type="checkbox" name="deriv" value=""> modify, adapt, or build upon.<br><br><br>
Search using:
<select name="engine">
<option value="google">Google</option>
<option value="googleimg">Google Images</option>
<option value="flickr">Flickr</option>
<option value="jamendo">Jamendo</option>
<option value="spin">spinXpress</option>
<option value="openclipart">Openclipart</option>
<option value="wikimediacommons">Wikimedia Commons</option>
<option value="fotopedia">Fotopedia</option>
<option value="europeana">Europeana</option>
<option value="youtube">Youtube</option>
<option value="pixabay">Pixabay</option>
<option value="ccmixter">CC-mixter</option>
<option value="soundcloud">Soundcloud</option>
</select> <br>
<input type="submit" value="Search">



Bing's Creative Commons filter country specific

I rarely use Bing. Ok, I never use Bing, but a Twitter conversation with Laura Gibbs earlier today had me checking out the search engine.

Laura sent a tweet responding to a conversation I had earlier in the day with Dave Cormier about finding OER science images (as an aside, Dave ended up aggregating the tweets recommending possible sources of OER science images using Storify; a nifty way to use Twitter & Storify to crowdsource, aggregate and archive on the fly).

One of the suggestions I had for Dave was to use the Google advanced license search to filter image results by open license.

Laura saw that tweet and responded that you could also use Bing

I didn’t realize Bing also let you filter by license type, so I followed Laura’s link and saw a collection of images in Bing, but there was no way that was obvious to me on how to filter my license. This is what I saw:

Chem1No license filter. So, thinking that there is another place where this is set, I start rooting around the Bing settings, but find nothing to filter on license types. So I ask Laura, who responds with a screen shot of what she sees.

Wait, what is that license dropdown on her menu? Why don’t I see it on mine?

Turns out, the license filter was not appearing for me because my country settings were set to Canada. If I changed my country settings to US, the license filter appears.


So it appears that Bing’s license filter only works if you have your country settings set to US. Which strikes me as odd. Why not just make it default for all geographical locations? t first I thought that maybe there was some legal reason why they restrict filtering on license by country, but then though if that was the case, why would they let users so easily override it by switching their country settings? Wouldn’t they have some more sophisticated geo-location mechanism in place if that was a serious concern?

At any rate, if you use Bing and want to use it to search for Creative Commons licensed material, you need to change your Worldwide settings to US.

Oh, and as was pointed out on the conversation thread by Pat Lockley…

You do sometimes find images that are not correctly licensed. If you get the feeling that the CC-BY licensed image might not be, do a bit more digging to find the source of the image. TinEye is a good tool that might help you track down the source of the image.


Exactly what we hoped would happen with open textbooks

I’m really happy right now, and it is all Dr. Rajiv Jhangiani’s fault.

Dr. Jhangiani is an instructor at Capilano University who I first connected with this summer when we were looking for faculty reviewers of open textbooks as part of the BC open textbook project. Dr. Jhangiani came to us with a Research Methods textbook that we didn’t know about and asked if he could review it as part of the project. At the time I thought it was fantastic that we had faculty bringing us open resources that we were not aware of. Really that was just the beginning of Dr. Jhangiani’s awesomeness.

A few weeks ago I was presenting on open textbooks at a conference in Vancouver where I had the pleasure to meet Dr. Jhangiani in person. We had a brief chat and he told me that he had adopted the textbook this fall. Awesome moment #2 from Dr. Jhangiani.

But today…today he took it to another level.

This morning I read an email he sent to me pointing me to his personal website where he has posted his revised version of the open Research Methods textbook that he reviewed. Seeing that completely made my week.

Dr. Jhangiani took an existing open textbook and did exactly what we hoped an instructor would do; revise it to meet his needs and then release it back to the commons under an open license for others to use and reuse.

And I suspect that the changes he made to the open research methods textbook will become valuable for others in the system as he has taken a textbook that was written with an American perspective and Canadianized it, removing American examples and replacing them with Canadian examples. He also modified the book to make sure that Canadian laws and perspectives on research were included, and added a table of contents, which the original textbook was missing. Heck, he even nailed the Creative Commons licensing.

Here is an instructor who has taken an existing open resource that was 80% of the way there and instead of going “this doesn’t meet my needs so I am not going to use it” took full advantage of the open license on the book and modified it to work for him. Not only has he saved his students money by making a free, open textbook available to them, but he has also made a valuable resource that others will no doubt use and benefit from.

This is the EXACT use case we have been hoping to see with the open textbook project. I have dreamed of seeing this happen and I am freakin’ PUMPED to see a vision realized. Thank you, Dr. Jhangiani! You have no idea how happy I am right now.

Okay, off to do a happy dance, Big Lebowski style

Ok, that might be a bit intense. Maybe more like John Candy style

Or….really…just take your own pick and join me in my happy dance.


Changing my CC license

This blog used to be licensed with a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share-Alike license (CC-BY-NC-SA). That changed today when I decided to remove the NC and SA clauses and just make it CC-BY.

As part of the BCcampus open textbook project, I’ve been digging deep into researching the various types of CC licenses. After seeing this chart on the CC website outlining compatibility of CC licenses with each other, I realized that the chances of someone being able to reuse my stuff is virtually nil because of the restrictions I had in place.


The problem is the Share-Alike attribution. When I chose the option to force people to “Share-Alike” (SA) I imagined that this would require people to use ANY CC license for anything they created using my material. I thought this would be a good way to prompt the adoption of CC licenses if someone wanted to use things I create.

What I didn’t realize was that, in fact, what I was forcing them to do was adopt a CC-BY-NC-SA license.  The SA license doesn’t mean Share-Alike with any other of the CC licenses – it means that the license of the adapted work has to match my license exactly.  Therefore, if someone wanted to use my work to create a derivative work (say translate this blog into another language) , they could not license that work with any other license other than a CC BY-NC-SA license and by forcing people to adopt a restrictive CC license, I am actually limiting the reuse of my material. My original good intention of adopting a Share-Alike license to try to promote the use of ANY CC license doesn’t make sense.

As for the NC (Non-Commercial) clause. When I first choose the NC clause, I picked it for 2 reasons. First, I didn’t want people taking my content and selling it – somehow make money off it. Really, I could care less about that anymore. I mean, you’ve read what I write. To think someone would actually pay for this stuff. Heh. I am more than a little embarrassed by the hubris of the 10 year younger me. Besides, I can’t see why people would pay for something they get for free right here.

The second was that I wanted to have SOME kind of recourse (however naive this belief was) that I could use against someone who republished the content of this site to drive traffic to another, unrelated site. It is not an uncommon practice for unscrupulous websites to republish content harvested from sites to drive traffic to another site – a practice known as blog scraping. or splogging (spam blog). I thought that by adopting an NC license that might somehow someday protect me by giving me some kind of legal recourse. Well, truth is, my content gets splogged all the time, and I don’t have the energy or time to try to chase the shadows to even attempt to identify who is doing it. And, again, quite frankly I could care less anymore. In the 10+ years of publishing content on the web, that fear I may have once had has left the station aboard a trainload of meh.

Go ahead. Use and reuse.

CC license compatibility chart from Creative Commons used under Creative Commons Attribution license


Supporting what I use

This past week, I have been spending money, primarily getting ready for the upcoming holiday season. But along the way I’ve also been spending some money and supporting a few of the free online services and products that I rely on everyday.

My first stop, the Wikipedia store, where I dropped $25 on an “I Edit Wikipedia” shirt, some stickers and pin. Mozilla was next, where, for $30, I got a nice, new Firefox t-shirt. $30 at Creative Commons snagged me a t-shirt, some stickers and pins.

Now, even though I get some nice stuff out of this, I didn’t do it because of the t-shirts, stickers or pins. It’s not about the schwag (although it’s nice to have a sticker on the laptop to show support and raise awareness). And I don’t see this as charity. I am not doing this for altruistic reasons. It’s selfish, really. I want these services and products to survive because I use them – no, I RELY on them, every day.  In my mind, this is a payment (albeit small) for services and products I use. They are valuable, and I would miss them if they were gone.

I financially support these organizations for the same reason I support The Knowledge Network and other public broadcasters – because I get something of value from them and I think they should be acknowledge in a way that means something to them. They need money to keep doing the work they do; work that is generally free from commercial interests, which is something that is harder to come by on the web these days, especially in education where the VC money is calling the shots on so many “innovations” revolutionizing education.  Personally, I would rather pay transparently up front than have what I see as valuable become commodified and commercialized.

Last night, after reading George Siemens post (and subsequent rich conversation between George and Scott Leslie in the comments), I added Hack Education to my list and made a payment to Audrey Watters for $25. A small price to pay to someone who I (and many others) see as an invaluable, independent voice in the EdTech maelstrom these days.


Georges post also made me realize that I should be explicit about these contributions and transactions. His post was a prompt for me – a reminder that these free services we rely on need to be supported in real and tangible ways, and pushed me to action. Georges post was my prompt. Maybe this will be yours?


And without doing anything, I created an Open Educational Resource

Last week I let loose a rant against Turnitin and a poster they sent me which painted the acts of remixing, mashups, aggregation and retweeting as plagiaristic.

Tonight I receive a pingback notification from a blog being used in an open online high school Philosophy 12 course being offered by Bryan Jackson. Bryan has included my blog post as a suggested reading for his unit this week on Ethics in his open online class for students interested in discussing the ethics of intellectual property.

I don’t know where Bryan saw this post. He might be subscribed to my blog, a colleague might have passed it to him, or he might have caught it on Twitter as we are connected there (and I have a pretty good idea where he did see it). But he would have never seen it at all if I had confined my rant to my office colleagues and not decided to put fingers to blog and post something in the open space of the web – something that another educator could find and link back to.

Which goes to underscore a point that Scott Leslie has been making for years about sharing and serendipity:

Much of the sharing that happens in my learning network happens through serendipity. People publish a blog post, bookmark a delicious link, etc, as a normal part of their own workflow,and whether through syndication or the “All seeing eye of Google,” it comes my way, as John Krutsch would say, “Right On Time.”

A normal part of my workflow is writing blog posts and publishing on the open web, then disseminating that via Twitter, Facebook, & (increasingly) G+. All that backroom posting to those networks happens behind the scenes. I’ve spent some time setting up this blog to post to those networks, where it was picked up by another educator, who then decided to use it as a resource in one of his classes.

Without doing anything extra, I managed to create an educational resource for another educator.

Okay, maybe it isn’t entirely true that I have done nothing. I did have to do a few things to make that happen. I had to create the ecosystem to make sharing possible. But that work was done years ago when I made the concious decision to publish on the open web with a Creative Commons license that allowed for reuse (which didn’t even need to be in place for Bryan’s case as he has just simply linked back to the blog post and not actually copied or reused it). But that’s it. That’s all I had to do. The simple choice of deciding to post on the open web with a license that allows for reuse means that something I create (whether I think it is useful or valuable or not) can be used by another educator.

With those 2 conditions in place – open and licensed for reuse – everything I create and publish here becomes an open educational resource, free for any other educator to link to, copy, use and modify as they see fit.


Google Image Search adds license filter

Google announced a new feature for Image Search today that should make it easier for you to find, modify and reuse images from across the web.

Google Image Search now has a license filter which will allow you to filter out images based on the license type. This makes it much easier to find public domain or Creative Commons licensed images to reuse or modify.

To access the license filter you have to go to the Advanced Image Search options. At the bottom of the page you will see an option called usage rights with a dropdown list with the options to return images labelled for reuse, labelled for commercial reuse, labelled for reuse and modification and labelled for commercial reuse and modification.

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Capilano University embraces OpenCourseWare

This is pretty exciting. I just came across Capilano University’s OpenCourseWare site where anyone can access and reuse Capilano University course material. Like the MIT version, Capilano has made learning resources available for free to anyone in the world.

What this means for faculty at other institutions is that Capilano has released this material with a Creative Commons attribution license meaning other faculty can reuse and modify any of the content for use in their courses providing they follow a few simple rules – give attribution, do not use the content for commercial work and share alike.

There are currently about 20 courses available from Capilano, but the long-term goal of the program is to have most of Capilano’s courses available using the OCW model.

As far as I know, Capilano is the first institution in BC to adopt OpenCourseWare.


Virgin, Creative Commons and Flickr

Virgin Mobile in Australia is creating a bit of a buzz by using photos they found on Flickr licensed using the Creative Commons license in advertising campaigns, including as the basis for their Virgin website Are you with us or what?

A Flickr Group called “Virgin Mobile – Are you with us or what” has started up in response to the campaign, and Australia’s Triple J radio has posted a podcast looking at the issue.

Virgin has followed the spirit of the CC license and given attribution on the photos. It seems most of the controversy revolves around the issue of whether or not the people in the photos have given permission for their likeness to be used.

As far as I know, this is the first major marketing campaign that has been built upon CC images and you have to think that commercial photographers are now either a) quaking in their boots at the thought of having to compete with millions of other photographers in an open forum, or b) salivating at the though of one of their pics getting snagged and used in a marketing campaign by a big company, thus cementing their reputation and giving them the ability to charge even more for their products.

In either case, you can expect that this campaign will go a long way to clarifying exactly what CC licensing is and help people understand the different levels of licensing that CC offers. And we can expect to see many more large ad agencies search the Flickr pool before dishing out thousands of dollars for a stock Getty image.