Have you told your faculty about the Creative Commons?

I run a repository service in B.C. (god, why does that always feel like the start of a stereotypical A.A. confessional, “My name is Scott and I am a recovering Learning Object Repository manager…”) We currently support sharing materials under two different licenses, either the Internet-wide Creative Commons (specifically the Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Canada flavour) or a BC-specific consortial license called the BC Commons.

Part of my job is to take the dog and pony show around to institutions, so increasingly I am in front of faculty from across the province presenting on this. Typically, to introduce the idea of these licenses, I start with the Creative Commons, because given it’s massive adoption, clearly everyone will have heard of it, right?

WRONG!!!  In well over a dozen presentations recently, I have NEVER had more than a 35% recognition rate for the Creative Commons (and that’s including librarian conferences!) and sometimes as little as 1 in 20 will have heard about it.

I know I’ve gone off on this before on cogdog’s comment area, but this is still just staggering to me. And I don’t really mean that as a critique on the faculty themselves, though neither do I want to praise inattentivenesses. But seriously, we, and by that I mean both those of us supporting faculty in general, and also those working on “openness and sharing,” need to do a better job of communicating basic things like the very existence of the Creative Commons. It shocks me to have to write that in 2007, but that’s my reality.

How about you – what’s the awareness level of Creative Commons in your organization? Any ideas on simple (free, easy) ways of increasing this awareness? Or is “mass retirement” the solution to your information literacy woes? Love to hear your ideas or stories to the contrary. – SWL

7 thoughts on “Have you told your faculty about the Creative Commons?”

  1. Wow, you got as high as 35%? It’s been a while since I’ve asked, but like you, have been flabbergasted at how low the recognition is. And a chunk of that is just some awareness of having heard it before or seen a logo on a web site. And I’ve found it true among IT folks.

    The bigger questions are how many re-use cc content or how many apply it to their own work.

    Some guesses- The various flavors of licenses seems to confuse and muddy the understanding. The best we can do is keep demonstrating by example- my biggest impact is using flickr licensed images in presentations and showing how these are readily found.

    This is among the top ten mysteries of IT…

  2. That’s actually the question I usually start with, “how many of you start the development of a new course with a search for freely reusable materials?” followed up by “for how long?” Similarly, the answer is very low. Maybe it just is a generational thing; my career began in 1993 building Gopher servers and Lotus Notes apps. Probably because of my relative ignorance, right from the get-go I benefited greatly from the culture of sharing that has in my mind always been part of the Internet, and so for me it has always been natural to look for things to build on and learn from when I start something. When the Creative Commons came along, it just seemed like “cool, GPL for content” (yes, I know, the analogy is not perfect, but I’m documenting my thought at the time) and away I went. Which I suppose is the other point in this post, the one I plan to come back to in other posts soon, that many of us need to be very careful not to make assumptions that everyone is like us, that we are all on the same point in the curve of adoption.

  3. It’s true that some things seem so obvious one forgets to highlight them! Thanks for the reminder. Working with elementary students, I believe CC materials would be more easily used in accordance with the license and therefore adopted with more enthusiasm by teachers if sites like flickr/creativecommons offered automatically generated citations in commonly used formats like MLA. A model for this is Discovery’s subscription unitedstreaming content, each piece of which has a citation tab with the attribution ready to copy and paste.

  4. Given that there is now a CC search, which has a FF plug-in, you would think that at least the students would know something about it. My recent discussions with some web-savvy teachers and several kids is that nobody has a clue about CC. Just this evening, I showed a young musician how to use the Remix license.

  5. Don’t mean to seem self-congratulatory, but I try to regularly do CC workshops as short standalones, and I never seem to have a workshop where CC is not relevant. Since copyright on sharing and reuse is so central to so many things, I’ve begun to make it a standard riff near the opener.

    The good news, people may not know much but every time at least a few people are excited by the concept. In this racket, at least in my experience, that’s as high a level as there is on any subject in this domain.

  6. I have to agree with the conversation here. I have the same problem when talking about CC – students rarely know about CC – and certainly not about CC/FF search either. Teachers are equally in the dark. In our schools it is always the Teacher Librarians who are concerned with copyright – and seen to be flogging a dead horse rather than doing what is right. CC provides an opportunity to work with copyright and fair use constructively – up to us to keep plugging away at it!

  7. I help manage a very large website at my institution. We have many ‘donated’ images, and provide the photographers with some boilerplate terms of use. More than a year ago, we asked the University lawyers if we could use Creative Commons for these images. “What’s Creative Commons?” was the first question. We still don’t have an answer from them – although I know that the U library now has someone on staff who is thinking about it…

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