Violating a Creative Commons License

Last night I was told by Richard Lambert about an Australian company using our “Interesting Ways to use an iPad in the Classroom” resource as a handout at a sales event. You can see the image clearly showing how they have used it, breaking the terms of the CC license. The MD contacted me overnight after the deluge of comments via Twitter. This is my reply to Andrew Bennetto the Managing Director of edsoft Interactive.

__

I am deeply disappointed about what I saw of the handout for your iPad Breakfast event. The presentation / resource “Interesting Ways to use an iPad in the Classroom” has been crafted by teachers all across the world willing to share their own ideas. That sense of openness and sharing is key to these resources – this ethos has been developed by myself and countless others, not just over a few months, but through years of encouragement and hard work.

Your company violated the terms of the license clearly stated on the title slide of the resource.

Just to be absolutely clear about how the licensing is unavoidable – when you open the document, via whichever link or method available, you see the title slide, which states:

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial Share Alike 3.0 License.”

I do not think there is any excuse to say that you were unaware of the license.

The final slide of the presentation also clearly states my name, email address, Twitter name and blog address. It is abundantly clear that I am technically the owner of the document. Once again, no excuse to say you were “not aware of the source.”

From the photograph I have seen that the pages have been edited to remove the names of the teachers that have contributed the idea to make it anonymous. Your logo suggests in fact that you own the document. The teachers who have taken the time to add their ideas deserve the proper attribution and once again this violates the license.

You did not give proper attribution for the entire document – but you also removed the correct attribution for each individual idea.

In your email you apologise, I trust that if it is one of your employees who has created this document that you take appropriate steps to ensure that it never happens again. On behalf of all of the teachers involved with the “Interesting Ways” series it is only right that I staunchly defend and protect the ethical manner with which they have been constructed and should be used.

In your email you go on to ask for permission to use the resource. I am sure you will understand that my answer has to be “No”.

In schools across the world there are teachers trying to educate our children about the correct use of digital content on the web, copyright and honest attribution – you are setting an extremely poor example.

__

If you share my thoughts on this then please, let’s hear them!

Tom Barrett

Tom is a writer, speaker and consultant. He has been sharing his thoughts on teaching, learning, curiosity and creativity on this blog for over 10 years. Drinking coffee and writing would be his idea of a perfect day.

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73 Comments on "Violating a Creative Commons License"

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[…] have noticed something is amiss, spotted any problems and either fixed it up or let me know – people care for these […]

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[…] Interactive, an Australian educational software publisher, was using an information sheet called Interesting Ways To Use The iPad In The Classroom as a sales tool he was confused: he’d collaborated with several teachers on an information […]

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[…] morning I was reading Tom Barrett’s blog over at Edte.ch.  He recounts a story about Creative Commons licensing that went terribly awry.  Tom is a former […]

Anonymous
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Anonymous
5 years 2 months ago

This comment has a bit of rambling chaos to it.

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[…] The Australian Creative Commons Violation http://edte.ch/blog/2010/11/10/violating-a-creative-commons-license/ […]

Luann Smith
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Luann Smith
5 years 8 months ago

We just studied this in my Educational Technology program and I am glad to see that you are standing up for the Creative Commons License.

Ian Guest
Guest
5 years 9 months ago
I’m afraid you might be right about the way that many teachers treat material on the web; re-using material without first thinking about the creator’s rights. However I suspect not so much the people who selflessly contribute to ‘Interesting Ways.’ I’d go further and suggest that many of them are people doing their best to help their colleagues understand their obligations in these matters. As for our contractual commitments, again I suspect you’re right. But I wonder to what extent our employers have ownership of our reflections of activities we undertook whilst ‘on duty.’ Perhaps of the resources we produced… Read more »
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5 years 9 months ago

[…] After a twitter storm the actual author made a new blogpost, and a company’s reputation takes a hit […]

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[…] Violating a Creative Commons License | edte.ch Interesting case over in the “interesting ways” world.. resources built up through widespread teacher use. Australian company, Edsoft, using our “Interesting Ways to use an iPad in the Classroom” resource as a handout at a sales event. You can see the image clearly showing how they have used it, breaking the terms of the CC license.  […]

Hans IJzerman
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Hans IJzerman
5 years 9 months ago

I very much agree with Theo. Some people have quite obviously purposively removed the names that were posted with the original source. You have to go to great lengths to steal something that way. Some posters above talk about this as well already, but I think that Edusoft should go to great lengths to 1) rectify, and 2) support the resource.

Hans IJzerman
Guest
Hans IJzerman
5 years 9 months ago
This is a very dissappointing development, which unfortunately happens all too often. Teachers, academics are open to share their work with the world (and put many hard hours in), which subsequently can be used for commercial ends. I certainly am much in favor of being open with resources (and using them for academic purposes, or otherwise). However, when another party comes in and essentially steals the resource, this is quite wrong. Recently, I have had a very similar experience. I am an editor of a magazine where academics write articles about social psychology. These academics do not benefit from this… Read more »
Andrew Field
Guest
5 years 9 months ago
Its just simply not on – regardless of the understanding or appreciation of CC licences. This company took the collaborative effort of a group of teachers and repurposed it, without permission, removing all credit and then apparently used it at a sales event. In this regard your wording is particularly restrained. If they had followed the correct use of the licence then they wouldn’t be able to use it for a commercial purpose. If they’d e-mailed you, discussed a proposal and – most importantly – made sure that they added to and developed the content further for the good of… Read more »
robthill
Guest
5 years 9 months ago

Is it not amazing how a reputation built up over 20 years can be lost in a single moment! How silly of edsoft.

Mdpkeenan
Guest
Mdpkeenan
5 years 9 months ago
NOT agreeing with what they did but imagine they had gone to a little bit of effort to disguise the “interesting ways” (- maybe by not calling it “interesting ways!”) and tinkered and tampered with some of the wording and maybe even have put a couple of their own pictures in and then finally instead of whacking the lot out on individual handouts…this might never even have come to the attention of even a sharp eyed follower of Tom’s great work. My point being that the cc licence really does rely on one having a strong moral compass and in… Read more »
D Solon
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D Solon
5 years 9 months ago

It’s bad enough when other educators do this sort of thing and put their names on other people’s hard work that they share, but a company? Completely irresponsible and unconscionable. Companies have used that old ‘it slipped through the cracks’ line for ages to get away with this sort of thing.
Perhaps Edsoft should make some sort of SIZEABLE MONETARY contribution to “work with you collaboratively to put energy behind this in a positive manner.”

John Sutton
Guest
5 years 9 months ago

I’m now pretty confused about what constitutes commercial use. For context, I am a self employed ICT teacher and consultant and have contributed to many of the “Interesting Ways” presentations. If I ran a training session, conference or seminar in which people paid to take part, in the course of which I talked about disseminated or otherwise linked to a CC resource with a non-commercial attribution, would that represent a breach of license? Even though I may have authored a small portion of it? Even though the resources in question were never mentioned in the marketing of the event?

Theo Kuechel
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Theo Kuechel
5 years 9 months ago

Andrew, thanks for your contribution to this conversation, most helpful. However what I still find difficult to grasp is why, (as I am given to understand), Edusoft felt it necessary to remove the names of the contributors to the resource. This surely leaves Edusoft open to a charge of plagiarism as well as misuse of a Creative Commons licence licence. I think this is the question many of us would like to have answered.

Christo clifford
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Christo clifford
5 years 9 months ago

I absolutely agree with your decision to refuse use in this case. How can we teach children to be honest re downloading and file sharing and appropriate use of copyright materials when companies blatantly break ethical agreements insulting all involved in the intellectual creation of a wonderful resource

Richard
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Richard
5 years 9 months ago
As with Sue, I’m also not clear on what actually constitutes commercial use. For the Interesting Ways presentation, it could have been used by: 1) Selling the resource or something derived from it 2) Distributing the resources with proper attribution; not directly selling it, but using it to promote other services. 3) Showing the resource on a screen, with proper attribution; talking delegates through it 4) Simply providing a link to it on a handout or blog Where does the dividing line fall? Doug, I think, is suggesting that it’s between 1) and 2). I tend to agree. What do… Read more »
Kathy
Guest
5 years 9 months ago
Everyone knows how I feel about violation of the intellectual property of others. Once you have had your work lifted, for commercial purposes or not, under copyright or Creative Commons, you really understand how much it hurts. Creative Commons makes it easy to apply explicit permission for terms of use, and I applaud Tom for his letter. The fact the item was edited to remove the contributor’s names also eems to indicate that the editing and lack of attribution was intentional. As for Angie Buy’s questions, it would have been fine to direct their participants to the original where it… Read more »
Andrew Bennetto
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Andrew Bennetto
5 years 9 months ago
Hi Tom, As a business owner/operator of a successful interactive learning business aimed at integrating learning into the classroom and previous publisher of 20 years in a global information business, I am only too aware of author’s, publishers and software development companies rights when it comes to licensing and am fully supportive of the great work that CC has instituted in promoting community understanding of policy and protocols for sharing of content since its establishment around 2002. As part of our business in helping teachers understand new slate technology, we developed a series of leadership information briefings sessions. In the… Read more »
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Sue Lyon-Jones
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Sue Lyon-Jones
5 years 9 months ago
You may be right, though I think one of the problems with CC licencing is there doesn’t seem to be a clear definition of what constitutes commercial use. I’ve had conversations about Creative Commons licences with people who would go along with what you are saying, and conversely I know people who would argue that if a company trades for profit then any use at all should be regarded as commercial use, irrespective of the context that they are using it in. For me, CC licences are majorly flawed and it’s the reason I choose to copyright most of the… Read more »
Pieter K.
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Pieter K.
5 years 9 months ago
I was a little uncomfortable with the language and tone used in your post, Tom: expressing your disappointment of the infringing use, conveying “ownership” of the digital document, and using a NC license* and denying permission for a commercial use. Granted, I think that your issues and points are valid and that you are most likely responding to the email from the “Managing Director” and not the use itself, but I feel like every use (even an infringing use) of openly licensed content is an opportunity to educate and collaborate, not an opportunity to scold and shame people. I wonder… Read more »
Zedman350
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Zedman350
5 years 9 months ago
This post is made in the context of Australian copyright law and IP licencing and master-servant employment contracts. This is likely to to result in me sitting in a hot seat, and though I agree that edsoft appears to have used the materials in contravention of the CC licence for which they have no excuse, there are some very high horses being ridden here. Teachers in general, are not known for their understanding of, or adherence to copyright laws or even knowing when it is the statutory licences entered into by their schools or educational systems, that allow them to… Read more »
datruss
Guest
5 years 9 months ago
Well said Tom! I came across a link recently which basically cut and pasted my entire blog post and felt a little perturbed. Then I realized that it was non-commercial and a Member of a county Board of Education sharing it with his district and giving me full credit… that’s fair use! Using your Interesting Ways commercially is UNfair use! It’s a great resource that I shared just today on Plurk with Kevin Honeycutt (and educators he was talking to in Kansas), and also here in a comment: http://jo-online.vsb.bc.ca/bondi/?p=377 It is a fantastic resource shared by many educators for educators… Read more »
Angie Buys
Guest
5 years 9 months ago

Thanks for the information- very helpful.

Toddlucier
Guest
Toddlucier
5 years 9 months ago

You are being far too kind in dealing with this issue. Request direct financial contribution of fees that have been generated as a result of using the content. Put the fees towards a charitable cause that resonates with the authors.

At the very least, request a phone call to learn more about how the content was ‘accidentally’ misused.

Request an email or other communication be posted on their web site alerting those in attendance to the misuse and give appropriate authorship credit.

In a world of creative commons a private mea culpa is not enough.

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Doug Belshaw
Guest
5 years 9 months ago

I agree, Theo. Again, I’m just saying that just because someone uses
something incorrectly (and even if disingenuous when caught) doesn’t
preclude them using it again *properly* under the terms of the CC-license.
It’s my understanding that commercial companies can use CC-licensed stuff if
not making a profit directly from the activity or context in which they are
used?

Theo Kuechel
Guest
Theo Kuechel
5 years 9 months ago

Excellent post Tom, thanks for sharing and letting us all know. Hope to see lots more of the excellent (cc licenced) work you do.

Theo Kuechel
Guest
Theo Kuechel
5 years 9 months ago

Clearly states NC (non commercial) can’t see how Edsoft’s use is Non Commercial. However even if they continue, and I suspect they may, I am sure Tom has better things to do than chase them through the International courts, the more that teachers and potential customers are aware of the ‘real source’ the better. They can act as judge ; )

Paula_lee_bright
Guest
Paula_lee_bright
5 years 9 months ago
Oh, heavens. This AND the pedophile/Amazon problem. You know, sometimes I think we have to forgive those who think the world they knew is coming to an end. Sometimes I think that perhaps all decency and understanding and caring for our young has gone by the wayside. Sometimes I think that I agree. Totally. This morning, I think only of how sad I am that such a long string of cooperation and help and contributions by teachers has been turned into something anonymous and now marketed. And now I think that I am distraught. I don’t know or understand the… Read more »
Doug Belshaw
Guest
5 years 9 months ago

Accept your point. I was only trying to show that, for example, if they ran
a free workshop and properly CC-licensed the resources, there isn’t much
anybody could do to stop them…

Sue Lyon-Jones
Guest
Sue Lyon-Jones
5 years 9 months ago

Accept your point Doug, but as it is a non-commercial licence, proper use is unlikely to be an option…

If they want to use it commercially, (which, from what has been said so far, it would seem they do) then that falls outside the scope of the licence.

CarmelG
Guest
CarmelG
5 years 9 months ago

I’m at a large boys school in Sydney and had contributed to the Interesting Ways iPad ideas, I certainly shall make sure that my Sydney colleagues are aware of this breach on the part of Edsoft

Rvaya
Guest
5 years 9 months ago
I am a little confused as well on CC rules. I totally get they violated many of the rules of the CC for this incident but for anything under “CC for non-commercial use” does that mean that any business cannot use it simply because they are a company? What if a purely informational pamphlet were to be made, and they used images that were registered under this CC and even gave credit to the person who made it have they violated the CC? Its nothing they personally make money on but they are a company so is that the line?… Read more »
Doug Belshaw
Guest
5 years 9 months ago

I think what Edsoft did was wrong, but I’m not sure you can now prevent
them from abiding from the terms of the CC-license and using it properly.
That would be cutting off your nose to spite your face, surely?

Aso Ber
Guest
Aso Ber
5 years 9 months ago

Absolutely disgraceful!

Ian Guest
Guest
5 years 9 months ago

A measured and considered response Tom, to what I hope was a *thoughtless* act. Unfortunately, I suspect there was a greater degree of premeditation and that appalls me. So there appears to be two possibilities:
1. ignorance of CC
2. blatant disregard for CC
In either case I know how that would affect *my* decision if I was looking to do business with them.

Drew
Guest
Drew
5 years 9 months ago
Tom, in my opinion what this company has done epitomises the reason that so many teachers choose NOT to share their work with others ie. the fear that THEIR hard work is somehow plagiarised by others without acknowledgement. This has been a particularly reprehensible example of such activity, particularly given the blatant removal of any indicator that people other than the company were responsible for the creation of the document. Even when viewed at it its most simple level this sets a very bad example to others. Therefore you are to be commended in responding as you have done, as… Read more »
Ian Guest
Guest
5 years 9 months ago

Just a thought Doug, but isn’t that in the same vein as, for example, someone having burgled a house. When the police later pay them a call and the telly they stole is simply sitting unused in the corner of the room, are they no longer guilty of the crime? (Or maybe guilty of another?)

Doug Belshaw
Guest
5 years 9 months ago

Surely if Edsoft now abide by the CC license there’s not much anyone can do to stop them?

Rick K-T  (@rakt)
Guest
Rick K-T (@rakt)
5 years 9 months ago

I agree wholeheartedly of course. The most powerful part for me is the last line about what we try to teach our kids day in day out about their use of content on the web.

A fair and just reply Tom.

Cheers,
Rick KT
@rakt

Sue Lyon-Jones
Guest
Sue Lyon-Jones
5 years 9 months ago
Hi Tom, I was sorry to hear that this had happened, and you can count on my support. I agree that this kind of thing is unacceptable, & if the situation that you describe here happened to me then I would say no, too… and I would also bill them a hefty sum for commercial use (which I’d redirect to an educational charity if they paid up). My personal view is that if commercial organisations who do this kind of thing are allowed to get off Scot free, then it muddies the waters even further with regards to public perception… Read more »
Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous
5 years 9 months ago

Excellent response. I use the Interesting Ideas slides to introduce my class to existence of Creative Commons License and figure that if they have sone understanding of it at the age of 10 that others are able to as well.

Richard White
Guest
5 years 9 months ago

I agree with all here in that this is totally inappropriate – though not that surprising, I have to say. I did wonder about the email they wrote requesting permission to use the material. It would depend what exactly they were asking for but if they were to add the appropriate attribution, you can’t actually refuse their re-use of the material – that’s the very purpose of the licence you applied in the first place! (But it’s possible they just asked for permission to use ‘as is,’ i.e. without attribution.)

Bill Ferriter
Guest
5 years 9 months ago
Angie, Good questions—and I’m glad that you’re working to understand CC licensing. This publisher made two big mistakes. First, EVERY CC license requires that attribution be given to the original creators of the content being used. While that attribution requirement is a bit murky—-it reads that attribution has to be given in the method specified by the creator, which isn’t always easy to find when you’re a CC user—-this publisher went as far as to remove all identifiers, which could have served as attributions. Then, the license Tom mentions is a “Non-Commercial” license—-That means the work can be used for… Read more »
Mary Cooch
Guest
5 years 9 months ago

Excellently put Tom and all power to you.

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