doug — off the record

just a place to share some thoughts

Copyright thinking

Helen DeWaard was good enough to drop by the blog on Friday and toss in a comment about my thoughts on her blog post.

Thanks for answering the questions, Doug. It’s something I think we (educators) should consider as we share our skills, talents, ideas and meandering professional practices in blogs, tweets, snapchats or instagrams! Put a CC license on creative works as a default setting, even if it’s just that one more bit of work before you publish or post. Teaching our students as we lead by example will help them also consider copyright and sharing in digital spaces. It’s part of moving students from citizenship to leadership that Jennifer Casa-Todd writes about.
I’m sure there will be a future blog post that dips further into the fair dealing conversation you’re looking for – it’s a common thread in Creative Commons conversations as well.

There was sentence in all that that had me thinking over the weekend.

Put a CC license on creative works as a default setting, even if it’s just that one more bit of work before you publish or post.

I don’t do that.  Instead, I’ve opted for the easy (coward’s?) way out.

You actually have to navigate to the “About” page on this blog to see how I have applied copyright to my creations.


I remember creating this very vividly.  It had five important points for me:

  1. it allows me to write about whatever I want, whenever I want, and the license to be inconsistent and “off the record”.  In other words, don’t fact check me because I may change my perspective over time;
  2. it gives an indication to people about how I would expect that people would treat my efforts.  I spend a great deal of time reading the Creative Commons options at the time and chose this one;
  3. it allows me to demonstrate how Creative Commons could be used to place a licensing on work;
  4. it gives me the chance to show others that I value what I do enough to put a license on it.  I think everyone, including students who create content should do so’
  5. it’s applied once on the blog and covers all the content.  I deliberately did it that way to avoid having the statement “in your face” at every turn.

But her statement got me thinking.  Does the fact that I lazily put a blanket statement on just the one page actually make the effort useless?

Answer this question – have you ever checked out my about page?  I would suspect most people, except for the morbidly curious, haven’t.

And, if you haven’t, you won’t have read the license part unless you had stumbled on it with one of my posts talking about licensing.

What makes this even more worth pondering was the inclusion of Deborah McCallum’s post about the MathPod in the same post of mine.  Deborah takes a different approach.  If you read to the bottom of her posts, you’ll see that she applies a full copyright to every post.  To this observer, she obviously takes great pride and places value on her work.  By not doing so, do I value my work less?

There’s also the digital thing.  Many people think of digital has having less copyrightable value than traditional media i.e. books, just because it’s more easily exploited and anyone can create it.

Getting back to Helen’s point – should a blogger or other digital creating type of person take that extra moment to apply their copyright statement to each and every piece of media they create?  Does that carry more importance than one blanket statement on the blog, wiki, website, etc. where it’s hosted?

I’d be interested in your thoughts.  I see myself coming down solidly on both sides of the fence on this one.


6 responses to “Copyright thinking”

  1. Applying this statement so much seems like a lot to me. I like the blanket statement, but I understand how it might be missed since not everyone checks out the About Page. Could the image be hyperlinked to this page? I don’t know if this would lead to more people reading the statement. Thoughts? I’m curious to hear what others think about this.


    Liked by 1 person

  2. There are alternatives. You could have it tacked to a widget on the side or bottom of blog or wiki page.


  3. Good morning Doug!

    I appreciate that you have written about Creative Commons twice in one week. Understanding and making decisions about the “license” one applies to their work is not something done without a degree of careful thought.

    I use BY-NC-SA, visible in the sidebar from all pages, applied as a blanket to the entire blog.

    For me, the key principles behind my use of Creative Commons as an educator are sharing and attribution. By nature, educators are continually sharing ideas and learning with and from one another. Ideally, this is a continual and ongoing discourse, within which nobody owns an entire idea, but rather contributes bits and pieces overtime. The importance of attribution (BY) is that one acknowledges the formative bits and pieces that come from someone else, kind of like Newton’s “shoulders of giants” metaphor, but where you actually direct the reader to the specific folks who have influenced your thinking. I avoid the ND intentionally and promote SA because why would you ever want to let an idea stop evolving?

    I have stuck with the NC because I don’t want to support a random commercial entity going around scooping up ideas on education and then selling them back to teachers. This last choice is a tricky one, and so I have gone with a better safe than sorry approach. (Back when I got my first Macintosh, I used to stick the copyright symbol on some my “teacher organization pages”, but that was more because it was so easy to do with an option keystroke on the Mac, and Creative Commons didn’t exist then.)

    Kudos to our friend and colleague Rodd Lucier (@thecleversheep) for his championing of CC years back. I still have the CC lapel button he gave me, and carry it in my bag along with the Lone-Battlescarred-Stormtrooper, both captured in this photo:

    Friend and colleague Alan Levine (@cogdog) — you remember we did a ds106 radio interview with him with Diane Bedard (@Windsordi) back in 2011 — has significantly extended my appreciation of CC with the importance of remix. For some time now, Alan has had an ongoing project working with the Creative Commons team in developing an accreditation program.

    Creative Commons is a very important discussion that needs to continue with educators and learners. We need to continually model what this looks like the students, something that goes way beyond the “don’t plagiarize“ statements that are given to kids once they are old enough to know better.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Andy. I do indeed remember meeting Alan and going on internet radio with him from Diane’s deck. I also remember being preoccupied because the tornado had just hit Goderich with wide spread damage and I was worried about friends.


  5. I do remember this Doug, my blog memory much better

    and the irony that I had just recently left just north of Goderich

    Makes me sad that Di zapped her flickr photos. I don’t hear from her much, the word is she’s active in Facebook. Say hi to her.


  6. […] I’m not a fan of littering my work with advertisements for Creative Commons. Doug Peterson responds with thoughts about his own approach to licensing. He also points to a case of overzealous […]


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