Another dot in the blogosphere?

Posts Tagged ‘creative commons

Earlier this week, my WordPress app alerted me that someone was using my Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy Verb Wheel for a course. The course was hidden behind a walled garden or locked behind a paywall. 

A university or vendor is using my resource of the revised Bloom's Taxonomy verb wheel.

When I tried to access my own resource, I was told to log in with Microsoft credentials. So I cannot say for sure if this course was for a university (walled garden) or some other provider charging a fee (pay wall). I can only be certain that the hit originated from South Africa.

I bring this up because that party might be breaking the rules of use of my resource. I gave usage permissions in advance with a Creative Commons license, CC-BY-NC-SA. This means that anyone who wants to use it should:

  • acknowledge its source (BY)
  • not charge a fee or otherwise profit commercially from using it (NC, non-commercial)
  • share any resources created as a result of using my resource with the same license structure (SA, share alike)

I see them. Do they see me?

There are many practices that those of us in schooling and education can learn from the rest of the world. But I wish we would not adopt military and corporate terms (e.g., SOP, ROI) without considering their contexts.

And then there are things that the rest of the world can learn from higher education. Take this tweeted news report, for example.

Unfortunately, giving credit where credit is due is not yet under Singapore’s Copyright Act. According to this news piece, we will have to wait till November and only if the changes are passed in parliament. The same article stated:

…the changes are not meant to go after the man in the street, but rather to prevent businesses from getting away with not crediting creators when profiting from their works. 

…if a person does not credit the creator of a work that he uses publicly, the creator can ask to be identified.

And if the person refuses to do so, the creator can take legal action to get credited or have the work taken down, as well as seek financial compensation from the person if there is potential income loss that can be shown.

One one hand, I am glad that the amendments require clear attribution. I know of far too many people who think that anything they find online is free to use. Worse still, they take credit when they use it wholesale or make modifications to it.

On the other, I am disappointed that the law needs to spell this out. This means that our schooling has not done enough to help make attribution a mindset. If students make their way to higher education, they almost invariably learn how to cite sources. But if their workplaces do not reinforce this practice, they unlearn it.

An interviewee in the article highlighted what he considered a potential problem:

…social media users, such as influencers who make money from their accounts, repost content such as videos and images, they could be infringing the copyrights for the content unless they can prove that they used the videos and images fairly.

This is not a problem, it is an opportunity to operate ethically and fairly. We are not asking social media creators to be academics using APA or MLA to cite and list their sources. We are merely requiring them to give credit where it is due.

This is also an opportunity for all to learn about Creative Commons (CC). Some problems with ownership and licensing are figuring out who to credit, whether you can use their creations, and how you can use them. CC addresses all three.

The news article says that the changes to our laws will happen soon. November cannot come soon enough. In the meantime, all of us can learn more about and use CC licensing.

I prepared seven slides as part of a preparatory briefing for a group of students. Instead of attending a face-to-face class, they need to go online as a COVID-19 precaution.

As some might not have done this before, I decided to return to basics. I share the slides under Creative Commons license: CC-BY-SA-NC.

Note: I created the slides with Google Presentations and used the flash cards template. I modified the content of each template slide to fit the theme of each online conferencing tip.

Earlier this month Flickr assured users that that it would not delete photos shared under Creative Commons licenses.

While that may be the case, the tools for seeking and using these images do not seem safe from changes that Flickr makes at the database level.

I use ImageCodr almost every day to find images to illustrate my blog entries. The search and attributing tool sputters and malfunctions with increasing regularity. After all, it is based on what Flickr allows it to do.

Yesterday I could only find a limited number of images to illustrate “stupidity”. None of them were clickable — they remained thumbnails that did not lead to larger images and HTML code. I could not embed a suitable image as a result.

So I resorted to looking for other tools and image sources. None were as simple or elegant as ImageCodr.

I worry about the tool I have been using for about a decade. In Internet time, that is forever.

Then again, nothing is forever when it is a free web tool. But as long as ImageCodr walks the tightrope of policy and time, I will keep using it.

Last week someone asked me for permission to use an artefact I had created. I appreciated the old school courtesy.

But I would also have liked to see the progressive practice of knowing what the Creative Commons license I attached to the artefact meant. I had already granted permission and conditions to use and replicate it.

This might be an example of educating one person at a time. However, this does not mean that progress is slow. That one person might have the capacity to reach many with my resource.

Schooling might be relatively fast and efficient. Education is playing the long game without guarantees.

A few days ago, I found out that SmugMug had acquired Flickr. I received email from Flickr confirming this.

Yahoo acquired Flickr in 2005. Yahoo was then acquired by Verizon, combined with AOL, and put under the umbrella of Oath.

I was worried that these moves would affect the photo storage, display, and sharing service. It turned out to be mostly service as usual. However, the latest move has me worried about how this affects the photos shared under various Creative Commons (CC) licenses.

Flickr is a wonderful source of CC images. I use ImageCodr almost daily to search for images to illustrate my blog entries. ImageCodr also provides the HTML for attributing the images.

According to the Verge article, SmugMug “intends to keep Flickr as a standalone community and give it more resources and attention than Oath did”. Neither that article or the one by TechCrunch has information about the sharing and use of CC-licensed images. SmugMug’s FAQ does not address this issue either.

I am keeping my fingers crossed that this acquisition is as seamless and uneventful as the ones before it.

Update 28 Apr 2018:

I returned from an overseas gig last week. Thanks to social media and serendipity, I managed to reconnect with a few contacts there from as far back as three years ago.

One contact in particular was a prime candidate to attend the event, but had no knowledge of it. I highlighted this to one of the organisers, but I was told that it was an invite-only event.

While the organisers had every right to maintain this policy, they lost out on an opportunity to establish one more contact. I would describe this as a close or walled garden approach.

If you cannot reach them, you cannot teach them.

One of the conclusions of my keynote was that it was important to break down walls that separate. That is one way of reading into my statement: If you cannot reach them, you cannot teach them.

It is far better to connect learners with new opportunities, ideas, and people than not. You never know what impact you or they might have in the long run. That is one reason why I share my presentations and other resources under Creative Commons licenses.

The person who was not able — not allowed really — to attend the event got to see my slide deck and asked if he could borrow some ideas. I replied that the resource and ideas were open by default under a CC-BY-NC-SA license, so he was welcome to it as long as he created and shared in kind.

I faced about 200 people at the event and had close chats with just a handful. But I might have I reached out more meaningfully to one non-attendee than I did to the people in the room.

I know for a fact that people steal the ideas that I share as I reflect openly in my blog. But I am not too worried.

When I say steal, I mean that people take the credit for my work (or even make a profit off an idea) and fail to properly attribute me or my blog as a source.

Part of the problem lies with the prevalent mentality that “if it is online, it is free for all”. That could not be further from the truth from a legal standpoint, but try arguing with the thieves and you will get nowhere.

It is sometimes difficult to lay claim to an idea or definitively identify the source of an idea. There are very few unique ideas. All of us stand on the shoulders of some other giant.

The knee-jerk reaction is to not share at all or to create in a closed environment. I do not think this is helpful because it does not allow for a diversity of ideas that result from cross-pollination.

Another reaction is to remain open. I do not mind if my some of my ideas get taken and developed for the greater good. But I do ask that people respect the Creative Commons license I share them under (scroll down and look to the right).

Putting your ideas online, well formed or not, will date and time-stamp them. In the absence of a patenting or intellectual properties office, this allows you to lay claim to an idea quickly and freely.

That aside, I believe that what goes around comes around. If you steal or fail to give credit where it is due, your actions will return to haunt you. You will get away with it some of the time, but you will not get away with it all of the time.

I made some changes to the Creative Commons lecture that I give as part of the e-portfolio programme here in NIE.


One thing I did was remove two of the three backchannels, Twitter and LinoIt, we used the last time round. Most folks are already on Facebook so we stuck with that. Including the other two backchannels provided variety, but they were inefficient to monitor.

I kept the quiz-cum-attendance taking strategy. This time I did not leave it till the end because Flubaroo takes a while to process all the submissions. I also kept the quiz closed right up till it was time to take it and closed access when Flubaroo had to process it.

This made for a more efficient use of our time. What used to take close to up to 50 minutes was reduced to 40.

Over the next few days, I will be sharing with groups of preservice teachers the concept and practice of Creative Commons. This is part of CeL’s effort to promote open learning.

I have prepared this Google Presentation which tells a quick story, embeds videos, and links to a Google Forms/Flubaroo-graded quiz.

I am also giving the audience the opportunity to question, comment, or otherwise provide feedback via LinoIt, Twitter, or Facebook.

I am not sure how much will happen in the backchannel given the one-off nature of the topic. But I will test the waters anyway.


Usage policy

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