As part of last month’s big question Open Content in Workplace Learning?, I’ve been trying to find out more about specific answers to Creative Commons Use in For-Profit Company eLearning. I was contacted by someone out of the Creative Commons organization, but in going back and forth with them, we realized that I was looking for legal interpretations which they clearly can’t do. They are there to help set up the licenses. But that said, it also shows a failure of the current licenses.
What do I mean by a failure?
As I pointed out in my previous post, Creative Commons themselves conducted a study to understand commonly held interpretation of the understanding of the meaning of these licenses. This common interpretation is important if you are going to defend your use of licensed materials. But it also shows that lots of interpretation is required.
The person from Creative Commons suggested I post to the cc-community mailing list my questions. I only received one response with the following suggestion:
Contact the copyright holder to verify that:
a) The work was distributed under the license you received it under;
b) Their understanding of what the license permits and your understanding of what the license permits are congruent;
MIT,for one, has a couple of pages that outlines their interpretation of the CC-BY-SA-NC license. Most other educational institutions have similar pages, albeit not always with the same degree of examples as MIT.
But that leaves us with having to go and contact the license holder of each work which somewhat defeats the purpose right?
That’s what I mean by failure.
We don’t have an answer to some pretty basic questions!
The one good thing that came out of it was that at least MIT recognized this failure and has additional information: MIT Interpretation of "Non-commercial"":
Non-commercial use means that users may not sell, profit from, or commercialize OCW materials or works derived from them. The guidelines below are intended to help users determine whether or not their use of OCW materials would be permitted by MIT under the "non-commercial" restriction. Note that there are additional requirements (attribution and share alike) spelled out in our license.
- Commercialization is prohibited. Users may not directly sell or profit from OCW materials or from works derived from OCW materials.
Example: A commercial education or training business may not offer courses based on OCW materials if students pay a fee for those courses and the business intends to profit as a result.
- Determination of commercial vs. non-commercial purpose is based on the use, not the user. Materials may be used by individuals, institutions, governments, corporations, or other business whether for-profit or non-profit so long as the use itself is not a commercialization of the materials or a use that is directly intended to generate sales or profit.
Example: A corporation may use OCW materials for internal professional development and training purposes.
- Incidental charges to recover reasonable reproduction costs may be permitted. Recovery of nominal actual costs for copying small amounts (under 1000 copies) of OCW content on paper or CDs is allowed for educational purposes so long as there is no profit motive and so long as the intended use of the copies is in compliance with all license terms. Students must be informed that the materials are freely available on the OCW Web site and that their purchase of copied materials is optional.
Example: An institution in a remote area has limited Internet access and limited network infrastructure on campus, and a professor offers to create CDs of OCW materials relevant to her course. The professor may recover the costs of creating the CDs.
If you have questions about acceptable use of OCW materials, please contact us.
For those of us in eLearning, the key line is “A corporation may use OCW materials for internal professional development and training purposes.”
That’s great news. But it doesn’t necessarily hold for other Open Content, just MIT.
Bottom line is that Creative Commons is failing to really help us. If you have to go and contact each license holder to find out, you are basically in the same boat as with copyright.