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Heterick partners with Miami University Libraries to deliver lecture on Creative Commons

Myers and Crozier talk about Creative Commons licensing to faculty and students. They explained the nuances that exist between the different types of available licenses. (Northern Review photo/Emily Richards)

The Home Alone movies, Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and this story all have something in common.

They are all subject to copyright.

Copyrights are laws created by the U.S. government meant to protect a creator’s ownership over an original work. They protect much of the content that is encountered in daily life, and failure to comply with these laws can result in copyright infringement, or a violation of a copyright holder’s rights due to unauthorized replication of their work.

“As a copyright librarian, people are coming to me all the time with questions: ‘Can I use this?’ ‘Is this legal?’ ‘Am I going to get in trouble?’” said Coordinator of Scholarly Communications at Miami University Carla Myers. “The vast majority of people who I work with really want to be in compliance with the law. They don’t want to be committing copyright infringement.”

Myers teamed up with ONU Electronic Resources Librarian Heather Crozier on Nov. 30 in the Heterick Memorial Library to give a lecture to ONU faculty and students on how they can avoid copyright infringement situations through Creative Commons licensing.

Creative Commons licenses are copyright licenses that give content creators the ability to reserve or waive certain rights regarding how their content is reused, remixed, or adapted. Creators can choose from several different types of Creative Commons licenses, each one nuanced by their desired level of restrictions.

Instructor of multimedia and convergent journalism Greg Phipps is no stranger to licensing protocol, as he has worked with music entity licensing through TV ownership. However, he was surprised by all of the different types of available Creative Commons licenses when he attended the lecture.

“I thought [Creative Commons licenses] were fixed and dedicated types of licensing, but you can mix and match like legos and come up with the Creative Commons license that works best for your work and how you envision it being used,” he said.

Crozier also admitted that she did not understand all of the nuances of the licensing enough at first to explain on her own. She met Myers through an Academic Library Association of Ohio interest group and asked her to visit campus to talk about these differences because she recognized a need for Creative Commons education, especially in an academic setting like ONU where accessing and sharing information is central to learning.

We would like to encourage the faculty to investigate using more open education resources, which are resources that are going to be free for the students to use, and those rely very heavily on the Creative Commons licenses,” she said.

The lecture already planted its seed of influence on Phipps, who acknowledged the different ways Creative Commons licenses could be used in the classroom and through other aspects.

“Now I see that anything I produce, whether it’s lessons or examples or independent content that I create, it just takes nothing to slap on an appropriate Creative Commons license to protect your work,” he said. “It costs you nothing and it’s a way to document your work and make it available.”

Myers encouraged both those using content from Creative Commons and those creating licenses for their own content to think carefully about each situation.

She said that users should consider their purpose as commercial or non-commercial and derivative or non-derivative, pay attention to any sharealike restrictions that might determine how their content can be reused, find content that matches their objectives, and give proper attribution where necessary. Those who have created a work should think about how they are comfortable with others reusing their products. The Creative Commons website can be helpful when determining the right license according to Myers.

“You can go through that checklist and they’ll say ‘OK, here’s the license recommended based off of what you chose,’ or there’s lots of plain English explanations of ‘here’s what these licenses mean,’ so all those nuances- no derivatives or sharealike- you can go in and read in depth so you can make sure you’re complying,” she said.

Both Myers and Crozier believe that understanding the details of Creative Commons licenses will be important in the future. Crozier sees more of these licenses being applied as more people become comfortable with sharing their work. She also hopes that students will become more cognizant of the Creative Commons resources available to them.

Phipps also recommended increased use of Creative Commons licenses to show ownership over original works that creators may be passionate about. He explained that students often spend a lot of time working on original projects within their respective programs and should do their best to protect these works from being misused.

“I would encourage anyone who’s creating anything, whether it’s poetry or essays or original photographs, if they’re sharing it and it’s on the web, to include a Creative Commons license just so that you get some kind of recognition attribution for it,” he said.