molly kleinman

Commoner Letter #4: Molly Kleinman of the University of Michigan

Allison Domicone, November 16th, 2009

Molly Kleinman is a long-time friend of CC and has been doing incredible work for all things copyright over at the University of Michigan as Special Assistant to the Dean of Libraries. From Espresso Book Machines to a CC-friendly Scholarly Publishing Office, we continue to be inspired by the University of Michigan’s innovative approach to open content, copyright, and especially open education, an area of focus CC is highly committed to developing through ccLearn. We’re honored to have Molly, a self-proclaimed dedicated advocate of Creative Commons, write the fourth letter in the Commoner Letter series of this year’s fundraising campaign.

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Molly Kleinman2
Photo by Chan Wong CC BY-NC

Hello, Fellow Commoner,

Creative Commons licenses make it easier for me to do my work, and to help my faculty and students do theirs. Today I’d like to return the favor and encourage you to support the Creative Commons 2009 Annual Campaign, and help make sure they continue the wonderful work they’ve been doing.

Why is Creative Commons so helpful and important? Because it provides a balanced, sane alternative to the madly out-of-whack copyright system I deal with every day. I am an academic librarian and copyright specialist who teaches faculty, students, librarians, archivists and others about their rights as creators and their rights as users. Anyone familiar with the state of copyright law knows it’s messy and confusing stuff, and the very notion of users’ rights is contentious in some circles. Big Content has been waging a propaganda campaign to convince the public that all unauthorized, un-paid-for uses are infringing, illegal uses. It’s not true, but the widespread misinformation is bad for educators, bad for students, and bad for all of us who benefit from the fruits of scholarly research. Professors are afraid to share educational material with their students. Parents are afraid to let their kids post homemade videos online. All this fear hinders the ability of scholars, teachers, and students to do the work of research, teaching, and learning that is their job.

As my favorite CC video says, “Enter Creative Commons.” Creative Commons carves out an arena in which people can use and build on new works without fear. It frees us from both the looming threat of lawsuits and the time consuming and expensive demands of clearing permissions. Creative Commons helps people share openly, and the more content that CC helps to open up, whether it’s music or photography or scientific data or educational resources, the more it expands what faculty and students can teach and study freely.

I’d like to call particular attention to the work of one of Creative Commons’ offshoots, ccLearn. ccLearn is striving to realize the full potential of the internet to support open learning and open educational resources, and to minimize legal, technical, and social barriers to sharing and reuse of educational materials. I cannot overemphasize the importance of this work. In the United States alone, plummeting budgets and rising costs for both K-12 and higher education are making it harder for students and teachers to access the quality educational resources they need. Until recently, most educational content was locked behind digital paywalls or hidden in print books, and the free stuff you could find online was often unreliable. Now, the pool of high quality open educational resources is growing every day, with open textbooks, open courseware, and other experimental projects popping up all the time. Many of these projects have received support from ccLearn, and nearly all of them are built on the framework of Creative Commons licenses. Every one provides expanded access that is crucial to the future of a quality educational system, both in this country and throughout the world.

This is why it is so important to support Creative Commons, in any number of ways. Though I donate (and you should, too), I believe that one of my greatest contributions has been in helping to build the Creative Commons community from the ground up, one frustrated professor or librarian at a time. Every person I teach about Creative Commons is a person who may eventually contribute to the Commons herself, attaching licenses to her works and sharing them with the world. The bigger the Commons, the better for all of us.

Molly Kleinman
Special Assistant to the Dean of Libraries
University of Michigan Library

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Creative Commons CTO speaking at Open Access Week

Greg Grossmeier, March 16th, 2009

open-access-badge

Open Access Week at the University of Michigan is “a week-long, campus-wide exploration of Open Access.” And a discussion sponsored by the Michigan Library on this topic couldn’t come at a better time; libraries are facing tough economic situations and the current political discourse around copyright and open access needs to be addressed. Featured Commoner (on behalf of Michigan Libraries) Molly Kleinman said it best on her personal blog announcing Open Access Week:

First we have the return of the dreadful Fair Copyright In Research Works Act, which is opposed by just about everyone except commercial publishers, including 33 Nobel Laureates in science. Then comes the word that together Elsevier and LexisNexis earned over $1.5 billion US in profit in 2008. For Elsevier that’s an adjusted operating margin — a profit — of 33%. While universities across the country are facing budget cuts of 20% or more, Elsevier brings in 33% profits, largely on the backs of university libraries. And economic news more broadly indicates that no library will escape unscathed. When Harvard starts laying off librarians and eliminating subscriptions, we’re all in trouble.

And that is only a small sub-section of the issues facing libraries today, including big issues like the Google Books Settlement. What better time to speak about the use of Creative Commons licenses in academic journals and what technological tools Creative Commons is developing to build an ecosystem of openness? With the right tools and the right attitude academic libraries will be a major player in fixing many of these issues.

Nathan Yergler, CTO at Creative Commons, will be speaking during Open Access Week on March 23rd on the University of Michigan campus. Everyone is welcome to join this event, and all of the events during Open Access Week. For the details about Nathan’s talk, check out the the schedule.

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CC Talks With: University of Michigan Library

Cameron Parkins, February 19th, 2009

Over the past year, the University of Michigan Library has shown itself to be particularly sensible in regards to open content licensing, the public domain, and issues of copyright in the digital age. The U-M Library has integrated public domain book machines, adopted CC licensing for their content, and independently had their Copyright Specialist, Molly Kleinman, articulate the importance of proper attribution in using CC licenses. We recently caught up with Molly to learn more about these efforts – primarily how they came to be and the results they have yielded – as well as discuss CC’s place in educational institutions at large and how CC and Fair Use interact in the academic sphere.

1library
Book, Suzanne Chapman | CC BY-NC-SA

What is your role at the University of Michigan Library? How does the University Library interact with the rest of the University?

I’m the University Library’s copyright specialist. I provide copyright and publishing assistance for faculty, students, researchers, staff, and librarians throughout the University of Michigan, and occasionally to the community at large. I handle questions on both sides of the copyright universe: people come to me as users of copyrighted works and also as creators with concerns about their own rights. At a university just about everybody is both a user and a creator, so I think it’s important to promote a balanced perspective on copyright. A big part of my job is teaching workshops and providing one-on-one consultations about copyright and scholarly publishing basics. I work with librarians all over campus to raise awareness about topics like fair use, Open Access, and author rights. I also support a number of the Library’s activities, including our institutional repository Deep Blue, the Scholarly Publishing Office, and Special Collections exhibits. People always ask if I’m an attorney… I’m not. I’m a librarian by training, and have a background in publishing. A law degree is useful when dealing with copyright, and it’s certainly necessary when you’re providing legal advice, but in many other situations it’s not essential. Copyright is messy and confusing and it makes a lot of people nervous and scared. Approaching these issues as a librarian allows me to explain things in “human readable” language instead of legalese. My goal is to demystify the law and empower students and faculty to advocate for their rights as both users and creators.
Read More…

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C&RL News on introducing CC to college communities

Eric Steuer, November 7th, 2008

The current issue of College & Research Libraries News includes a great article entitled “The beauty of “Some Rights Reserved”: Introducing Creative Commons to librarians, faculty, and students.” It’s a clear and insightful round-up of the challenges that college campuses face when it comes to copyright, followed by an examination of the benefits of Creative Commons licensing in academic settings. The article also offers practical steps for people looking to teach faculty, researchers, students, staff, and librarians about CC’s tools and projects. The written piece is complemented by a podcast interview with the article’s author, University of Michigan copyright specialist Molly Kleinman, who has recently posted a series of very useful “CC HowTo” tips on her own site.

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Community Generated HowTos

Fred Benenson, August 26th, 2008

Molly Kleinman, the “multi-purpose” librarian, has started putting together some easy to digest HowTos on Creative Commons. In HowTo #1 she details some very reasonable examples of proper attribution:

An Ideal Attribution
This video features the song “Play Your Part (Pt.1)” by Girl Talk, available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license. © 2008, Greg Gillis.

A Realistic Attribution

Photo by mollyali, available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license.

A Derivative Work Attribution

This is a video adaptation of the novel Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom by Cory Doctorow, available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike license. Copyright © 2003 Cory Doctorow.

In HowTo #2, Molly gives some examples to demonstrate our NonCommercial license:

  1. Using an illustration on a birthday party invitation = Non-commercial
    Using an illustration on a charity auction invitation = Commercial
  2. Using a song as the soundtrack to a collection of home videos for the family reunion = Non-commercial
    Using a song as the soundtrack to an advertisement for a Family Reunion Travel deal = Commercial
  3. Using a photo on a personal website that has no ads = Non-commercial
    Using a photo on an ad-supported website = Commercial

Visit Molly’s site for more updates on the HowTos and other news relevant to open content and librarians.

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Creative Commons HowTo

Greg Grossmeier, August 16th, 2008

Molly Kleinman, Copyright Specialist and Special Projects Librarian at the University of Michigan, just wrote up a nice howto for people who use Creative Commons licensed material in their work. This will hopefully add to the repository of knowledge for best practices on material integration.

This is an ongoing issue in the community. No matter how straight forward the instructions for providing attribution to a work are, mistakes will always be made. Most times the mistakes are made not in malice but in a lack of guidance. Luckily, Molly is taking up the task on her blog.

Her examples are easy to understand along with providing various methods of accomplishing the same goal. She even has an “Ideal” example and a “Realistic” example.

From Molly:

I’m taking the material I use in my workshops, mixing it up with CC’s extensive documentation, and posting the results here. If anyone has ideas for topics they’d like me to cover, let me know.

Here’s hoping she continues on this project of producing easy to understand examples of how to use Creative Commons licenses effectively and correctly.

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