The Creative Commons, the organization behind the increasingly-ubiquitous Creative Commons licenses, has recently announced the formation of a new division, CCLearn. The stated goal of CCLearn is to minimize the legal, technical and social barriers that impede the sharing and reuse of educational materials.
Towards this end, one of the activities of CCLearn will be to encourage those who create educational resources to make them available free of legal and technical barriers that discourage adaptation and creative reuse. The Creative Commons license, by which creators can waive their copyright claims as long as their works are used for non-profit educational purposes, is a major tool toward creating such “open educational resources.” So a major initiative of CCLearn will be to encourage those who create education resource to employ CC license or some similar mechanism to communicate their desire to share those resources with the educational community.
Equally important, of course, is the ability to find resources that are made openly available for educational purposes. An important aspect of CCLearn will be its Open Education Search, a tool that “aims to direct search engine traffic to the incredible diversity of OER repositories and communities.” This tool should make it much easier for faculty members to find resources they can use in their classes without having to worry about copyright concern. It is a frequent and bitter observation that our system of copyright law does not accommodate the needs of education very well, even as it relies on institutions of higher education for much of the material that populates that system. Careful attention as CCLearn develops its open education search tool is called for; it promises a system that could offer both a potential solution to some of these copyright problems and an immense resource for creative approaches to teaching.
Policy on Electronic Course Content
For help deciding whether course content in Blackboard or some other digital form is fair use or requires copyright permission, consult this policy document adopted by the Academic Council in February 2008.
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