Creative Commons Search for Free and Open-Source Digital Contents

From E-Learning Faculty Modules


Contents

Module Summary

One of the basic unspoken rules in instructional design is to “not reinvent the wheel”. In other words, don’t recreate what someone else has already created; otherwise, you will only be wasting your time. To see what is available on the Web and Internet, those designing online learning may access the Creative Commons Search in order to see what shared imagery, articles, slideshows, audio files, video files, and other digital contents are available under an open license—from those materials in the public domain (with no claims of copyright at all) or “CC0” (the Creative Commons 0 License or “No Rights Reserved”) all the way to CC BY-NC-ND (Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs. This module summarizes some basic approaches to using the Creative Commons Search in the instructional design and development context for online teaching and learning.

Takeaways

Learners will...

  • consider the importance of the Creative Commons Search for finding original digital contents (imagery, clipart, video, audio, and other files) available for usage with and without some restrictions
  • review the basic history of the Creative Commons licensure, created by Lawrence Lessig
  • analyze the current types of Creative Commons licensure, including CC0 (public domain), and consider which are the optimal licenses for instructional design
  • review how to retrieve the contents at full resolution and to offer proper citation credit
  • consider ways to create and share social digital contents (on social media platforms) with CC licensure for others’ usage


Module Pretest

1. What is the importance of the Creative Commons Search feature for finding original digital contents hosted on the Web and Internet?

2. What is a brief history of the Creative Commons licensure? Who is Lawrence Lessig?

3. What are the current types of Creative Commons licensure? Which are the optimal licenses for instructional design?

4. What are the optimal ways to retrieve the contents released to public use under Creative Commons licensure? How should sources be cited? How should records the respective resources be kept?

5. What are some ways to create and share digital contents via social media platforms and through Creative Commons licensure for others’ usage? What are some ways to avoid the mis-use of what one has created?


Main Contents

1. What is the importance of the Creative Commons Search feature for finding original digital contents hosted on the Web and Internet?

In the spirit of the times, people around the world have been creating user-generated contents and sharing on various social media platforms, with focuses on image-sharing, audio-sharing, video-sharing, slideshow-sharing, and others. There are dedicated sites for the sharing of certain types of contents, like maps or datasets. Then, too, some western governments have long been in the practice of sharing non-embargoed data collected as part of their provision of critical services.

Creative Commons Search (https://search.creativecommons.org/) is a tool that has federated the various sources and enables searching across various search engines (Google Images, Google), image sharing sites (Flickr), music sharing sites (Jamendo, ccMixter, and SoundCloud), dedicated image-sharing sites (Pixabay, Open Clip Art Library), a dedicated video-sharing site (YouTube), and media-sharing sites (Europeana, SpinXpress, and Wikimedia Commons), and others. This resource is a dynamic and changing one. Through this portal, some of the over-a-billion objects released through Creative Commons licensure are available to be discovered based on a simple text search.

CC Search is important because it enables broad access to a variety of multimedial resources released for defined use cases.


CreativeCommonsSearchInterface.jpg


2. What is a brief history of the Creative Commons licensure? Who is Lawrence Lessig?


Lawrence Lessig, currently a professor of law at Harvard University Law School, created Creative Commons in late 2002 to enable broad sharing of user-generated contents and the findability of such resources across the Web and Internet. In the dozen years after the licensure’s founding, over a billion original works have been licensed (“Happy birthday, Creative Commons,” Dec. 16, 2014).

Interestingly enough, depending on what one is looking for, it is totally possible to have millions of options or none. There are topics about which the broad masses have no contributions because of sensitivities.


3. What are the current types of Creative Commons licensure? Which are the optimal licenses for instructional design?

There are several general licenses. The most generous would be CC0 or “No Rights Reserved.” In such cases, the creator(s) of the digital object have relinquished all copyright and loosed the object into the public domain. This means that the work may be edited in any way desired; it may be used for commercial as well as non-commercial purposes. The users do not have to cite the original author (although to do that would be unclassy).

Then, with layers of ascending requirements, the other licenses are as follows:

Attribution or CC BY Attribution-ShareAlike or CC BY-SA Attribution-NoDeriv CC BY-ND Attribution-NonCommercial or CC BY-NC Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike or CC BY-NC-SA Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs or CC BY-NC-ND

It would be helpful to read the Creative Commons “About the Licenses” details in greater depth.


4. What are the optimal ways to retrieve the contents released to public use under Creative Commons licensure? How should sources be cited? How should records the respective resources be kept?

People who have worked in particular topic domains over the years will have become familiar with some positive go-to sources for digital contents. If they have paid close attention, they may be able to identify a work down to its original source if the “signature” is sufficiently clear on the image or audio or video or other type of object. Over the years, people will have collected some keywords that may clearly indicate what they are looking for and may have senses of phraseology that enhance a search (“this not that…”). It may help to build up experiences with CC Search as well and to discover which sources are the most helpful for particular topics. For many topics, Google, Google Images, Wikimedia Commons, and YouTube are a “can’t miss” combination.

Once the resources have been found, it will be important to capture basic information:

  • the URL where the source was found
  • proof that the proper CC licensure was applied (at that site)
  • the author of the digital contents
  • the date of creation of the digital contents
  • and other relevant information.

The information is usually kept in an audit sheet, spreadsheet, data table, or database…so that there is a clear record of relevant information both for the design and development in the near-term but also for reference and backup in the long-term. (Many such audit files will have screenshots of the object, so there are not only textual ways to find the objects but visual ones as well.)

If the object is an image, it should be fully opened and expanded to capture the highest resolution copy of the image for quality’s sake (no thumbnails). The best and least-lossy version of all other digital files should be downloaded, so it will enable the user to have the most informative version of the file to use.

Sources which should be attributed should give credit to the original creator. Some creators (many) prefer to use their online handles instead of their identifiable names…although some basic exploration often leads to personally identifiable information (PII).


5. What are some ways to create and share digital contents via social media platforms and through Creative Commons licensure for others’ usage? What are some ways to avoid the mis-use of what one has created?

Sometimes, those who use open-source resources may want to share what they create with the online universe. To do this is not difficult, in one sense. They just have to start an email-authenticated account on a mainline social media platform, upload their contents, decide which level of licensure they want to apply to those contents, and they can call it good.

Of course, the likelihood of their contents being found will be much lower if what they are sharing is very common. If their contents are quite original, then, it is possible that others may more easily find their way to their digital contents.

It is a good idea to apply the correct level of licensure to protect the digital learning objects. If a creator does not want others to edit his or her work or to use it in commercial applications (like advertising or marketing or public relations), then it is important to specify that as “NoDeriv” and “NonCommercial.” If a user does not want to share something through a Creative Commons license release, then he or she should not release it publicly. [As a side note, anyone who wants to publish an image or figure or such with a commercial publisher should not release such contents through Creative Commons. Most contracts with commercial publishers involve transfer of all intellectual property rights. If an author has already released rights broadly, a publisher may decline to re-run the work, or they may require a different digital object in its place.]

Examples

How To

Please see above.

Possible Pitfalls

Anyone who uses material created by someone else has to do due diligence to ensure that the person claiming to have created the work actually did…and that he or she has standing to release copyright on that work. Especially in terms of creating digital contents, there is a cost in including someone else’s artwork or music, because unwinding that from a video or learning object or simulation can be time- and effort- expensive. In addition, the legal blowback from using others’ work can be damaging to reputation and the pocketbook.

Another challenge is that a general federated search such as by CC Search is necessarily limited because it is so high level. If one has found some solid sources, such as some government ones, it is okay to bookmark those and to go directly to those sources. CC Search can be very useful for identifying particular places to return to over time.

Module Post-Test

1. What is the importance of the Creative Commons Search feature for finding original digital contents hosted on the Web and Internet?

2. What is a brief history of the Creative Commons licensure? Who is Lawrence Lessig?

3. What are the current types of Creative Commons licensure? Which are the optimal licenses for instructional design?

4. What are the optimal ways to retrieve the contents released to public use under Creative Commons licensure? How should sources be cited? How should records the respective resources be kept?

5. What are some ways to create and share digital contents via social media platforms and through Creative Commons licensure for others’ usage? What are some ways to avoid the mis-use of what one has created?


References

Lessig, L. (2014, Dec. 16). Happy birthday, Creative Commons. Retrieved June 29, 2017, from https://creativecommons.org/2014/12/16/happy-birthday-creative-commons/.


Extra Resources

About the Licenses. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/.

Creative Commons Global Affiliate Network. https://creativecommons.org/about/global-affiliate-network/

Creative Commons Search. https://search.creativecommons.org/