Open Content ioe12

Again, these are my notes from the course topic video


All this content is attributed to David Wiley.

David starts with the 10 year anniversary of Open Content.

It all started with Free Software (which was covered in the previous topic). It started out with Richard Stallman and the GPL that allowed free (liberty, freedom) reuse of software. Freedom was very important to Richard. In winter 1998 Eric Raymond became involved. He said that ‘free’ was confusing to business, and so developed the concept of Open Source. This focused on why openness and peer review was good.

At the same time David was working and thinking that digital content was really magic because it’s non-rivalrous, because it can be used simultaneously by multiple people without detriment to any. This, he thought, had implications for education. Library books are rivalrous (only one person can use a particular copy at one time), electronic versions of text are not. Digital content could drive down costs and improve access to education. So David went on to work on this concept of making educational content in a way that it could be shared and accessed with others who needed to use and change it for their requirements. That’s when David made the connection between Open Source and doing the same for content. There should be a comparable licence for materials doing the same as the GPL does for software.

David emailed Richard Stallman and Eric Raymond and they asked questions of him about what it would be called (‘free’ or ‘open’) and what it would cover (education, culture, content, stuff ?). So in June 1998 David decided on Open Content. It would cover a whole bunch of stuff. The preliminary licence was called The OpenContent Principles / License (OP/L). There was some success in the uptake of the licence, but very little uptake in education. This required talking to publishers. David was talking to Eric, who was talking to the publisher Tim O’Reilly and the question was asked, “Will you publish something that is openly licensed?”, which lead to a discussion about what publishers might want. Publishers would have to have protection from undercutting, due to costs and work involved. What did authors want? ‘Open Content isn’t really like Open Software.’ Some authors wanted recognition and some wanted to protect the integrity of their work; they were willing to share as long as no changes were made to it.

So in summer 1999, the Open Publication License was published; allowing download, sharing and redistribution. It required attribution to be given to the original author. It came with two options:

Option A) To prevent distribution of substantively modified versions without the explicit permission of the author(s)

[Effectively a derivative works clause]

Option B) To prohibit any publication of this work or derivative works in whole or in part in standard (book) form for commercial purposes unless prior permission is obtained from the copyright holder.

[Effectively the undercutting (no commercial) clause]

This saw much more uptake of this licence.

There were a number of problem. Both licences were abbreviated to OPL. They were both referred to as ‘that open content licence’, so again there was confusion. Also the naming of the Options A) & B) didn’t tell you anything about the content of the option. Additionally a link at the bottom of a page of content that took you off to the Open Content License page didn’t tell you if either of the Options had been implemented for the work or not.

This was a “good idea, but poorly executed”.

Then along came Larry Lessig (and the group that he worked with) and in December 2002 Creative Commons License 1.0 was born. The options were specifically names, e.g. non commercial, no derivatives, etc. and there wasn’t just one licence but each combination of options created a separate licence, with descriptive names, e.g. CC By, CC By-NC-ND.

There was still a button problem, because it didn’t make clear which licence it was. This was fixed later in time.

In the CC 2.0 version, attribution (By) became mandatory.

At the end of the video, David asks “So where are we now, 10 years on?”, and goes on to give a run down of examples from major sites and online services where there are hundreds of thousands of individual content elements made available under Open Content Licences.

In Education, UNESCO convenes a meeting and discusses Open Educational Resources. There’s the Open Courseware Consortium. There are hundreds of university level textbooks openly available. And the Cape Town Open Education Declaration.

And looking forward, “Where are we going?”

There are still problems. Licence compatibility; ‘which material from one licence can be mixed with material from which other licences’. Without the Public Domain there is 28% compatibility of CC Licences. (Refer to the card game from the Open Licensing course topic). David states that whichever Copy Left licence you pick, you can’t mix it with the majority of other available Copy Left licences.

Also there is some confusion/concern over the noncommercial clause. At the time 76% of Flickr content licenced as CC contained a noncommercial (NC) clause.

CC+ and CC0 will become more important.

David then goes on to outline a couple of areas of personal involvement for him.

  • Flatworld Knowledge textbooks is a new publishing models.
  • Open High School of Utah, which is a new free online schooling model. Interestingly the model allows for an iterative cyclic correction of the curriculum.

Drawing on the other course topic reading(s):

“Open content” … is content that is licensed in a manner that provides users with the right to make more kinds of uses than those normally permitted under the law – at no cost to the user.

The primary permissions or usage rights open content is concerned with are expressed in the “4Rs Framework:”

  1. Reuse – the right to reuse the content in its unaltered / verbatim form (e.g., make a backup copy of the content)
  2. Revise – the right to adapt, adjust, modify, or alter the content itself (e.g., translate the content into another language)
  3. Remix – the right to combine the original or revised content with other content to create something new (e.g., incorporate the content into a mashup)
  4. Redistribute – the right to share copies of the original content, your revisions, or your remixes with others (e.g., give a copy of the content to a friend)

Open Licensing #ioe12 – Post2

I have created notes from the Larry Lessig video for this section of the course. And I’ve written one reflective piece in response. However, I’ve looked back over the course requirement for Badges and am now wondering whether my meandering approach would meet the criteria, even though my own learning is benefiting. I think I’ll go through the content for each section and write a brief blog post from that, I can then look at things in more detail afterwards.

I’d hear previously of the ‘Remix Card Game’, I think it had been used at a conference and I read about it from there. I hadn’t really tried it out myself until I clicked on the link in the Open Licensing course materials, and I’m impressed with how good it actually is. I’ve created a game (not online but for in class use) in the past to inform people about tagging, so I know how useful this game based approach can be. I’m going to find the Remix Card Game very useful when explaining about Creative Commons License use with mixed media.

From it’s inception, the period of copyright has been for a limited time span. In this way, the creator or author of the works was able to capitalise on her/his interllectual property for a limited time with state protection. Initially, this protected period was quite short. The works would then move into the Public Domain for the public good. In this way, the works can be built upon by others for the furtherment of knowledge. This is, for example, a fundamental concept for the advancement of scientific discovery. Isaac Newton said “If I have seen farther it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”

Progressively, this period of copyright has been extended. In the US, Congress has periodically extended the length (outlined in this Larry Lessig interview), it now last for 70 years after the creator’s death. (In the UK a recent ruling has increased the period of copyright on music recordings from 50 to 70 years after date of creation.) In effect, Congress is granting a perpetual copyright, which some have challenged as being unconstitutional, but the courts have said that each of these changes is only for a finite period and that is constitutional. Others have argued that the falling of works into Public Domain following the copyright period amounts to confiscation, and that copyright should be perpetual and infinite, so that the creator can receive revenue. However, Larry Lessig dispels such arguments in his wiki on the subject.

The concept of Public Domain isn’t as straight forward as one might hope, because there is much work whose status isn’t determined. Copyright holders can’t be traced, or it is unclear if the work is actually Public Domain. These are termed ‘Orphan Works’.  And without a lot of effort taking place to resolve it this unsatisfactory situation looks destined to continue. So, rather than perpetual Copyright, we have perpetual Uncertainty.

The uncertainty related to the use of works by others is encapsulated very well in the ‘Bound by Law’ comic book that explains the dilemmas faced by documentary filmmakers, where the potential costs of using the works can be crippling, and prevents a fuller explanation or reflection of cultural values from being created.

So the main crux of the argument hinges on the period of protection that Copyright should offer, and what is Public Good. I have my own opinions on this, and that is why I’ve gone down the Creative Commons Licensing road for my own works. I feel that they offer enough protect for the works, and allow re-use and development to take place in a way that will allow greater and faster development of human knowledge.

The papers by Rufus Pollock make interesting reading, and resonate with my own thinking.

As Pollock explains, once knowledge is created then sharing it is non-rivalrous, it is not diminished if multiple people use it at the same time. For the benefit of society or humankind, once a piece of knowledge exists then the greatest value to be derived from it is to distribute it at cost (which could be zero or very close to it). However, the initial cost of production can be very costly, and this has to be paid for in some way.

Pollock suggests that there are four (non-exclusive) options for creating this ‘first copy’.

1. Up-front funding either by the state or by other entities – such as charities – followed by free (or marginal cost) distribution, e.g. BBC funding model.

2. Donations (spare time) or self-financing with free distribution e.g. Wikipedia, blogs and many open source projects.

3. The grant of monopoly rights in relation to the copying or use of the knowledge in the form of intellectual property such as copyright and patents.

4. Using imperfections of the market to obtain profit from being the creator of knowledge but without using monopoly rights. Such methods include secrecy, first-mover advantages, marketing and the sale of complementary goods that are rivals but for which an advantage is conferred by the production of the original knowledge.

Pollock goes on to put forward an interesting argument (developed from examining peer-to-peer illegal activity) about the added value derived from making works available via Public Domain and compensating artists for loss of revenue in other ways. Several countries are already considering or using levies elsewhere in the chain to achieve this; taxing broadband provision, or blank recording media. Additionally, the majority of ‘historical’ recording under copyright aren’t currently commercially available. This adds further to the Public Domain argument for increased value and greater creative potential from reuse.

In the second of the Pollock papers from the course reading, by developing an equation and using empirical data an estimate of optimal copyright duration is derived and the value comes out to be 15 years. This is much shorter than most countries set copyright to be. The argument therefore follows that policymakers could enhance social benefit by setting copyright to this much reduced value.

Open Licensing #ioe12 Post1

Until I watched the Larry Lessig TEDxNYED video (outlined in this post) I didn’t really understand the reason for copyright too well. I thought it was primarily about income revenue, which wasn’t the driving motivation for my work.

I’ve gone down the Creative Commons route for licensing my own works, be it this blog, images on Flickr, videos, whatever. My own personal approach is that if someone wants to use my work, please go ahead;

  • re-use, re-mix,
  • make it better,
  • make it more relevant,
    • more understandable.

For me that’s what creation and culture is all about.

But copyright is about this level of control, how others want their own work to be licensed and used. The argument for the combined system is that there is then a place for commercial success as well as for this ‘other’ culture. To enable this to happen there needs to be a respect for the creators of both aspects, with an option of fair use or fair dealing in the Commonwealth.

I have found this MIT World video captured debate, ‘Copyright, Fair Use, and the Cultural Commons’ a useful one to expand my own understanding and others might also find it of interest at this point.

Digital Storytelling – Bubblr

I’ve started to become interested in digital storytelling. So when I found Bubblr by Pimpampum recently I was very interested at the possibilities. Bubblr is a comic strip based services that uses the Flickr API to allow you to search for and pull in Creative Commons licensed images to tell a story. The interface is pretty intuitive; do a search via the text box, choose images you like from the returned results and drag them onto the strip. Add an additional image by simply dragging another and dropping it to the right of the last image, and so on. (You can also add them before the last image by clicking the appropriate option.)

Once your strip is in place, you can add comic strip like speech bubbles, thought bubbles and narrative bubbles. When you’re happy, you can publish your strip to the archive. You just then need to put a title to your composition and add your name. (There’s an interesting warning – your boss might see your composition so be careful.)

screenshot of Title and Name input box for Bubblr

Writing this post, I have realised some similarities between Bubblr and Vuvox Collage. So Bubblr not only has a digital storytelling use, but could be a presentation tool as well.

I’ve quickly created a Bubblr strip, Shots of Sheffield UK by Markuos.

Bubblr digital storytelling in action

There’s an archive to look through other people’s creations using a useful search facility.

Kahn Academy – DIY OER to Educate the World

Last Friday was an interesting day. I was tipped off by a colleague, Paul Leman, about the Kahn Academy when he sent me a link to Glen Moody’s blog post. At first sight the Kahn Academy looked like a fantastic resource, with 1000+ videos on various topic for students of all ages. But being one who never takes things on face value, I wanted to check things out and see what others were saying about this resource. That’s when I found David Wiley’s post which explained how there was no Creative Commons license attached to the content. I had a look and he seemed to be right. David had written to Sal Kahn the creator of the Kahn Academy previously, but he decided to drop him a further email. Then, as is evident from the comments David received on his post, everyone was immensely pleased to see that by the end of that day Sal had acted on David’s call and prominently displayed the CC license on the Kahn Academy homepage making it an OER for reuse, remixing, sharing, etc. I immediately embedded this video in my Daily Interests blog under the title Education for the World until I had time to write in more detail.

Now I have to take my hat off to Sal Kahn for a truly immense resource. What he has achieved with the Kahn Academy is nothing short of incredible. Single handedly generating instructional videos covering subjects including:

What a wealth of information. This has to be place in the category alongside Academic Earth and Udemy.

This story excites me on a number of levels. Perhaps one of the most significant is the difference anyone can make by openly publishing knowledge online to freely educate others. It’s an approach I’m trying to take myself to make a difference, however small; it is something that I passionately believe in. More power to anyone and everyone doing the same.

Creative Commons Photos

I keep providing links to examples of media content that can be freely used within your own work, provided it is given appropriate attribution. Here is a link to literally millions upon millions of images that people have licensed under Creative Commons for reuse on Flickr. Thanks to all those people.

Creative Commons Slideshare Presentation

I’m particularly interested in Creative Commons and the work of Larry Lessig. So much so that I’ve written several blog posts and vlogs about the topic, including; Episode 10 Copyright or “copywrong” – Look to Lessig, Google Advanced Image Search – copyright free image search, Bring in the expert. When I came across such an informative Slideshare slidecast presentation by Rodd Lucier I needed to share it here.

Rodd raises some interesting questions for educators to consider relating to how we should “model academic integrity” and “guide the student creator” with the appropriate use of material created by others.

This video from Penn State shows the implications for students in their coursework using appropriate material.