Creative Commons

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By Katie

Our daily lives are now connected in more ways than we ever dreamed would be possible. Digital technologies have revolutionised the way creative content is made, accessed and distributed. However, with this connectedness comes complexity around access to content and the way it can be used. While access to creative content is increasing every minute, our legal systems are hugely complex and make it difficult to understand exactly what we are legally able to do with content we find and create.

In January 2012 I was one of 1034 participants from over 87 countries enrolled to participate in a free five day online workshop called Open Content licensing for educators sponsored by Ako Aotearoa.

The workshops were designed for educators and students who wanted to learn more about open education resources, copyright and creative commons licenses.

Day four of the course introduced the Creative Commons project which gives content creators the ability to refine the copyright restrictions or freedoms attached to their work by using six free licenses. The rest of this post will look at Creative Commons licenses, how they work and ways to introduce them to your students.

The Creative Commons project in New Zealand was initiated Te Whainga Aronui - The Council for the Humanities, and is now administered by The Royal Society of New Zealand. Creative Commons was founded in 2001 to help content creators and users alike by creating a series of attribution licenses that provide a range of protections and freedoms for authors, artists, and educators. These licenses or attributions are free of charge to the public and allow creators to convey which rights they reserve and which they waive in a flexible way.

Creative Commons licenses consist of four major licensing components which work together to allow creators greater flexibility around the re-use of their work. For more information on the licenses and how to apply them to your work please visit: A video on the website explains this all in plain language that would be suitable for use in the classroom.

Students can practise searching for content labelled with Creative Commons licenses by using the advanced search functions in Google, Flickr and Vimeo. When students are searching for New Zealand content they can do so by using the filters on Digital New Zealand (note: you can search for content you can share, modify or use commercially, this will include a mixture of licensing not just Creative Commons).

For those of you looking to at ways to re-use digital material in the classroom, Services to Schools and Digital New Zealand have created a guide called Free to mix: An educator’s guide to reusing digital content.

The guide gives you information, activities and ideas to confidently create a remix from material you know you have the rights to reuse. It shows students why copyright and licensing exist, how they work, and how they can apply licences to their own work through simple information, suggestions for activities, and links to more resources. By using it, you and your students will be able to participate in the global remix community while demonstrating creativity and integrity.

By using Creative Commons licenses in the classroom you help your students to understand copyright; how it is used on the internet, the importance of licensing their own work and respecting the work of others in an online environment, ultimately making them a more prepared digital citizen.

We have created a poster for you to print and use in your classroom and library to help learners and teachers to use CC licences.