News

Commons.edu? (Innovation 1b)

Glenn Otis Brown, March 12th, 2003

This is the second of several postings describing potential innovations to our licenses. It comes courtesy of Rob Hallman, a Stanford Law School student in the “Advanced Contracts: Creative Commons” seminar.

Commons.edu?

You have the power to make learning fun. At least partly. Promoting education is a personal goal and a corporate mission for many copyright holders. If you have creative work that you’d like to share with students and educators, but you don’t want people to use it for other purposes, an “educational purposes” license option may be just your size. “Educational purposes” gives the green light to any use of a work in a classroom setting.
There are all sorts of classrooms (including virtual), and we’d like to include them all, as long as they’re run by a legitimate educational institution, commercial or not.

But what about fair use? We don’t imagine that this “educational purposes” provision would replace or compete with fair use. Instead, this provision is designed to allow copyright holders to share even more usage rights with students and educators than fair use allows. We want students and educators to feel confident that their use is legal and happy that the artist or owner is a willing accomplice in the learning process.

Educational Purposes. The licensor permits students or educators to copy, distribute, display, and perform the Work in whole or in part for educational purposes as defined in this section.

Educational purposes include classroom use affiliated with an educational institution, research or other projects developed and displayed exclusively for classroom use, or for the review of instructor(s), or degree-conferring committees, where:

Educational institutions include individuals, corporations or trusts, commercial or noncommercial, whose primary purpose is educational, and whose educational purpose is demonstrable through governmental recognition or through comportment consistent with a customary understanding of educational purpose among practitioners in the field.

Classrooms include the traditional classroom setting as well as other recognized forums for instruction or coursework that are administered by an educational institution. On-line and other nontraditional “classrooms” will be considered classrooms for the purposes of this definition where they are the forum for a legitimate course, seminar, or instructional program administered by an educational institution.

Students are a distinct, limited community currently participating with the permission of an educational institution in a course, seminar, or other program with an educational purpose offered by that institution. Student status is coextensive with the duration of the course, seminar, or program.

Educators are full-time or part-time/adjunct faculty, administration or staff of an educational institution.

Can this be simpler? Should it be broader? Narrower? Tell us why you’d use it or why you wouldn’t.

19 Responses to “Commons.edu? (Innovation 1b)”

  1. Rob Hallman says:

    In the “Educational Purposes” clause discussed on March 12 of the CC weblog, I wonder if there is some not-so-good wiggle room in the definition of virtual classes. In particular, a web site might purport to provide educational material … but that is really just the bait to hook you into viewing ads, or buying consulting services, or whatever. I would think that some authors might not appreciate this type of “educational” use — especially where the author may themselves be attempting to generate consulting opportunities.

    The worst-case scenario might be if I license something for educational purposes, could HPW, John Wiley, Prentice Hall, etc. put my CC-enabled materials on their websites? That might draw “my” students to their other books. Many such publishing companies are building rather significant virtual-classroom-like websites and I think could justifiably claim the “educational” exemption.

    Thus a big company could advertise that they have their proprietary content *AND* the CC-enabled content. The CC-author could only post CC-enabled content. Hardly seems fair?

    I wonder if this could be cleaned up by requiring any virtual classroom to have some level of student support — ie. a valid address (regular mail or email), phone number, chat room where their ‘virtual students’ could participate, ask questions, *AND* receive timely answers. The website (CC-licensor?) would have to provide that support if they were going to compete against the author (eg. for consulting opps). Universities, educational foundations, etc., shouldn’t have any problem with this since they’ll have teachers on staff already. Commercial entities could choose to hire a teacher just for course XYZ — thus competing against the author — but that would benefit the larger community as well.

    Submitted by John Pormann on March 17, 2003

    With reference to John’s comments I agree that there might be some value to revisiting the definition of classroom. It is a tricky balance. It seemed important to our discussion group to keep things as broad as possible (to let classrooms include forums that 1976 Fair Use couldn’t have contemplated, like on-line distance education, and forums that evade clear curricular boundaries, such as scheduled docent tours in a museum gallery).

    Our thinking was that we could weed out the not-so-educational in the ‘educational institution’ definition, whereby the primary purpose of your organization has to be educational for you to qualify. Like the classrooms, this is hard to pin down with a tight definition. We didn’t want to narrow eligibility to educators working under the auspices of an accredited educational institution (especially because we’re not sure how educational institutions are designated in many countries), but we also didn’t want to let a company simply declare itself to be an educational institution. Does our reliance on government designation OR customary meaning seem sufficient in this regard?

    In light of Jim and Brian’s remarks (above) I’d just like to add another approach from which we’ve been examining this as a potential license option. I’m inclined to agree that most people who are willing to share their works with a CC license are game for educational usage of their works. My hope, instead, is that this license option might attract copyright holders who wouldn’t otherwise consider CC. In particular, I hope that institutions like museums and universities that are wary of opening up their stores of information, images, etc, to any use, may consider opening up their collections to a familiar community of students and teachers as a first step into the commons.

  2. David Wiley says:

    I’m curious about the restriction on the educational materials being available from “administered by an educational institution.” This rules out the very fruitful and (especially online) thriving arena of informal learning. Many of the best instructional materials online (HOWTOs, tutorials, etc.) are created and reused by individuals and other groups who may not even be formally organized, and are certainly not “educational institutions.”

    As it is, this license would make it impossible for anyone to “do education” except for universities and other formal organizations. I believe this restriction might work counter to the intent of the Commons, which should open access to more people, particularly access to educational opportunity. Perhaps a definition of “educational purposes” which focuses more on intent (“intentional / purposive efforts to promote learning” or something equivalent) than focusing on degree-granting status could be a solution.

    If we can move in this direction we can get closer to opening access to educational materials for a significantly broader set of uses that will _support learning_, including powerful informal and peer learning opportunities so common in newsgroups, web boards, and other online forums.

  3. Gerv says:

    I agree with Jim Ray – when are there circumstances where you’d want to restrict classroom use? Just because a college needs to charge parents in order to afford to educate the kids, they shouldn’t be discriminated against.

    IMO, you should add this language (or a simpler form of it, preferably) to all CC licenses.

    Gerv

  4. Brian Carver says:

    I am soon to be a former adjunt instructor of Philosophy and have a lot of reading questions, tests, quizzes, notes, etc. that I have thought might be beneficial to future instructors if placed on the web.

    First, I had the impression Aaron does, that the standard CC licenses would already grant such permission, but Glenn’s response gives me the impression that if I licensed the materials “non-commercial” that any instructor at a college that takes money for its courses (all of them!) would not be allowed to use these materials. If that is so, then this is a problem.

    Second, Jim’s point seems to me right on. I suppose I could dream up a circumstance where I wouldn’t want someone not in education using my materials, but given their nature, it seems like those are rare cases or that all of them are commercial uses. So, again, I thought a key reason for choosing the non-commercial option was to allow educational uses and disallow other more obviously commercial uses. If the non-commercial option actually rules out the vast majority of educational uses then this should be worked on.

  5. Wouter Vanden Hove says:

    I would be very disappointed in the Creative Commons if such educational license/option would be included.

    Why? Because it legitimizes the opposite, namely the *forbidding* of educational use. It would look like that we automatically agree that forbidding educational use is accepted as the default. It would look as a capitulation in the “Stop the extension of Intellectual Property”-battle.

    If we don’t agree with a law, we should try to change it, like the CTEA or DMCA. Only after that battle is lost, we should think of promoting less-restrictive-than-maximum-by-law licenses.

    If students or professors are sued by some publishers or because of educational use of their copyrighted material, make it widely known and let public outcry do the rest.

    It worked with Felten, and I’m quite confident it would work with innocent educational classroom use.

    So instead of automatically accepting the prohibition of educational classroom use as the default, let’s assume otherwise.

    Instead of creating an educational CC License, which undoubtedly has a very positive connotation, let’s create an anti-license: The Creative Commons Anti-education License which forbids any educational classroom use.

    This anti-license solves the some problems:

    1) publishers/museums/institutions are able to choose the right they grant. If they don’t want to grant educational rights, they can use the anti-license.

    2) It solves the positive connotation of an “educational license”, which is basically fair use or a small extension of it.

    3) It makes educational use the default. Which is de facto the case for nearly all students and teachers.

    For teachers and professors making avalaible their lecture notes, the Share-alike license,the GNU Free Documentation Licensed, or the Open Publication License should be used. Non-commercial licenses are excluding all private teachers.

  6. David Wiley says:

    Here’s a thought, and it might be really awful but I’ll lay it out just for the sake of discussion. The current CC infrastructure supports the selection of options – why not let the educational license do the same thing? Except that in the educational license case, the selections would all be exclusive, granting either:

    (1) Permission for reuse in formal educational institutions (which would basically be limited to teacher use), or

    (2) Permission to reuse for purposes of supporting learning in either formal or informal educational settings (which would allow teachers, tutors, peers, and others to reuse content for the purpose of helping people learn).

    If people wanted to grant even broader permissions then they could use a standard CC license. I believe the human readable explanations will help people see that in many cases option (2) is really want they want. There would probably need to be commercial / noncommercial, attribution/no attribution and perhaps other choices as well.

  7. Rob Hallman says:

    I guess a key question we’re facing is what exactly we want to accomplish with an educational license. I think that we all subscribe to the same basic vision that sharing is good, and even more sharing is better (especially when it comes to educational purposes). My feeling is that people and institutions that a) share this philosophy, or b) don’t stand to make a lot of money from their copyrights, don’t need a special educational license option to coax them to share their works. But many of the things we’d love to see freely available are owned by people and institutions that don’t share our sense of adventure or that have a lot of money riding on their copyrights (or, more often, hope they have a lot of money riding on their copyrights). It’s worth trying to get them to share as far as they’ll dare, but I think they’ll need clear boundaries on who can and cannot make free use of their works before they’ll make the CC leap. Maybe I’m underestimating the museums, artist/author estates, and publishers of the world, but I don’t think so.

    If we can arrive at a license that isn’t limited by an educational institution framework like the draft language is, but still establishes a clear enough boundary for nervous copyright holders to go ahead and share, then we’ve succeeded. The draft definition for educational institutions is pretty broad, but, as David points out, only broad within a framework of formal educational programs. I agree that it would be great if we could expand that definition or get rid of it altogether. I look forward to hearing other people’s ideas, because I can’t come up with a way to do this. Because I can’t, it seems to me a better course to use the license to allow a wealth of material to become imperfectly available than to give another license option to folks already willing to share under current CC license options.

  8. David Wiley says:

    I want to think for a moment about the best example of CC licensed educational content on the web right now – MIT OpenCourseWare. If OpenCourseWare were licensed under the language proposed above, then the vast majority of *people* in the world wouldn’t be able to use it. Students who are not part of a formal class in an organized school somewhere would be disallowed access to the OCW materials because of the definition of “educational use.”

    Anne and others will tell you that much of the praise and feedback coming to MIT is from individuals and ad hoc groups in developing nations who are going to try to figure out how to use this material to significantly increase their quality of life and that of those around them. This will only rarely be in the context of formal educational organizations. I don’t think we want an educational version of CC to break this kind of educational use.

  9. Stephen Downes says:

    I think that unless ‘educational use’ explicitly includes non-formal and non-institutional forms of personal or self-directed learning, such a license would cause more harm than it salves, since it would otherwise create a barrier to self-learning, forcing people toward more expensive and less efficient forms of learning in order to access the materials needed, materials that might otherwise have been available had this license not made it possible for a content producer to opt for the more restrictive licensing cc.edu would allow.

  10. David Wiley says:

    I have to respectfully disagree with Wouter, who says, “an ‘educational license’, which is basically fair use or a small extension of it.” In the U.S., fair use and educational use are limited to very restricted portions of a work, like n seconds of an audio recording, or x minutes of a film, not to exceed z% of the total running length of either.

    In the Venn diagram of licensing, the Educational CC license fits wholely within a regular CC license. The origianl CC license provides everyone with the opportunity to use content in a number of interesting ways. An educational CC license would say “you can only use the content for educational purposes, not in those other ways.” An educational CC license is a way of reaching out to people who aren’t quite ready to give away all the rights associated with the original CC.

    The purpose of the Ed CC license, I believe, would be to get more free educational content in front of more people who need learning opportunities.

  11. samarkeolog says:

    I’m an archaeologist researching ways of resolving conflicts over cultural heritage in Cyprus, Turkey and Kosovo.

    My instinct is to support and opt for CC’s extended educational licence, but with my work, I want to support the links made from KFOR (military) and Tele-Quebec (media – and maybe others, including commercial media), as they’re some of the key ways my work can be of educational use.

    Would the educational or educational, but non-commercial licences prevent those uses and if so, does a clause need to be written in or made available?

    Cheers,

    samarkeolog

    Sam Hardy

  12. tom poe says:

    I think Jamie Love’s work with developing countries might offer some insight into this license option. Or, if we consider what happens to those inner-city students that can’t enter formal educational environments, except by some stroke of luck.

    For some reason, any restrictions on materials used for educational purposes seems to me to defeat the stated purpose of the materials. The Digital Age empowers the individual who has access to a computer. She can start a business, and compete with the biggest corporations for the price of Internet access. Something else she can do. She can obtain an education that rivals that of the finest institutions in the world. Should we, or anyone, restrict such opportunity?

    Suppose Stanford’s CCRMA department decided to slap an educational license on their work. What happens to the entire arts segment of our population? Stanford’s Center for Research in Music and Audio provides musicians, artists, and authors the tools necessary to create, edit, and enhance their works through the audio and visual media provided by the Digital Age. Or, consider what happens if the Agnula Project, directed by a consortium of universities and research institutions in Europe decided to slap an educational license restricting musicians, artists, and authors, who might never obtain formal training in multi-media technology, but want to work with that technology as part of their creative process. I think this license would serve little purpose for a huge population of the general public. But, then, maybe I misunderstand the license proposal.

    Tom

  13. Glenn Otis Brown says:

    Our current set of license options does not allow a licensor to permit educational uses per se. A licensor could choose the noncommerical option, but this would rule out for-profit educators. Some licensors may prefer to allow all sorts of educational uses, whether for-profit or not.

    I realize, Aaron, that this doesn’t quite answer your question about whether the education option would be a separate license. We’re leaving that specific point aside for now, and simply asking 1) if the added value of an educational use option is worthwhile, and 2) if so, how best to define educational use.

  14. Jim Ray says:

    Shouldn’t this be a de facto right? I can’t think of a single instance where it would be beneficial to limit the use of someone’s work for educational purposes. While an option for educational use would certainly be good, it seems to me that this should be a right included in all CC licenses, as dictated by fair use.

    I’d vote to make educational use part of all licenses rather than something that needs to be explicitly granted.

  15. copywriting says:

    The software companies have granted ecucational use licenses for years. They pass it off as “community good” when the reality is they still make a killing at the lower prices and the students become life-long users.

    Educational licenses can be good for business too.

  16. Daivd Miller says:

    I see a number of people complaining about the limitations of a cc.edu license. The comment by Wouter Vanden Hove that a cc.edu license “legitimizes the *forbidding* of educational use” seems to miss the point that a standard copyright already does that. “Fair use” applies to both licenses. The Anti-License that he proposes seems to miss the real point of the cc.edu license. We might love to have all things free for nearly unrestricted use, but there is something to be said for categories of use. I see a cc.edu license as a way of saying “This content is not intended for commercial or industrial or military use, but it can be freely used for educational purposes.” I guess I am repeating what David Wiley has already said. Jim Ray says that educational use is allowed under all cc licenses, which is true, but not all people are willing to use a regular cc license. The way I read this license it seems to strike the right balance of rights (because we will never get every nuance worked out in the license no matter how much legal jargon we insert.) The beauty of this license is that corporations have some incentive to produce materials that can be used for educational purposes and this license makes it easy for them to legally limit the use of those materials accordingly. Microsoft provides software under very generous terms to some educational institutions to encourage students to become familiar with their software programs – it’s a great way to drum up business. Think of what could be done to improve education if it were easier for companies to license products so that they were freely available to students and teachers for educational use without undermining their corporate financial interests?

    This cc.edu license seems to be an all-around good idea because it can open up educational use of things where people would otherwise be unwilling to allow public use under a standard cc license.

  17. Aaron Swartz says:

    Would this be a separate license? It seems like the standard CC licenses all already grant these rights to everyone.

  18. David Palmer. says:

    Hello,

    I think this situation very much resembles the placing the cart before the horse scenario.

    I believe that progress would be better served by attending to the definitions of ‘educational institutions’.

    After that, the format of the licence would become far simpler.

    In Australia and New Zealand, the term ‘bona fide’, as applied in law, means any institution that gains the majority of its’ income from its’ stated function, whether that be education, or agriculture or whatever.

    This would define the vast majority of educational institutions, private or govt.

    After that,there are the one off cases, e.g. a single student in Thailand. These could be classified as another class of ‘institution’. Part of the agreement in a situation of this type would be participation in a mailing list, weblog, or chatroom. This would create the interactive learning environment of a virtual classroom. Study is difficult in a one off situation, and genuine students would leap at the opportunity to bounce ideas, or make enquiries within a forum environment of some description.

    After that you have the flim/flam man in Ghana, who wants to take the materials, make fifty copies of them and sell them to his regular clientele.

    If this sort of character isn’t obvious immediately, he will be over time.You will always get a percentage of operators like this, and while you do not have the regulatory paradigms of a conventional classroom, you will continue to do so.

    The only means I could suggest here, is to wait for the greater international establishment of cc,and only release licences into Ghana (sorry to keep on picking on Ghana) when cc is actually established there. Physical presence will deter some, but not all.

    David Palmer.

  19. Jeff says:

    The reality of the situation is quite simple… No matter what your intentions are people will find a way to use it for their benefit.

    Education license or not, creative commons will work towards the greater good of information dissemination.

    There will be roadblocks and missteps along the way, there always are. The important thing is the intent… which I believe is to further the good.

    Support the efforts of Creative Commons