Multidisciplinary 28 • Science 30 • English Language Arts 32, 36 • Professional Development 34 • Tip 37 • Digital Citizenship 38
Sharing Made Easier with Creative Commons
By Karen Fasimpaur
good citizenship is not just about things that participants in a society shouldn’t do, but
also about what they should do. As
members of a well-functioning community—whether physical or virtual—
we are called upon to participate in
governance, be courteous toward one
another, and thoughtfully share certain
community resources. In the physical
world, our shared resources include
land, air, and water. The digital parallels include bandwidth and data.
Beyond those things that we must
share are commodities that we may opt
to share, whether out of generosity or
other motivations. One key difference
in the digital world, though, is that we
can still retain personal ownership of
what we share by virtue of perfect digi-
tal copies. Sharing comes very natu-
rally in the online world (some might
argue that we share too much) through
social networks, email, messaging, and
photo and video sharing sites.
Who Owns the Copyright?
When considering whether to open-license your work, the first step is to verify that
you actually hold the copyright to that work.
normally, when someone creates a work, the copyright resides with that creator.
However, for some employees, contracts include “work for hire” clauses
stipulating that the employer owns the work. For teachers, this is not always
straightforward. Your contract with your school may stipulate that works,
such as lesson plans, produced on school time are “works for hire” and
belong to the school. also unclear may be what constitutes “school time.”
Contracts often don’t specify whether the teacher or the school holds the
copyright. in that case, it’s crucial to get clarification before assuming you
are the owner. if you don’t do this, legal entanglements may result.
in many cases, applying a Creative Commons or other open license can bring
benefits for both the teacher and the school. Teachers retain the copyright to the
work while granting rights for others, including those in the teacher’s home district
and around the world, to benefit from using and remixing the materials.
Bottom line, it’s vital to resolve these issues in writing before moving forward with any licensing.