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Dealing with stuff that's not yours

Standing on the shoulders

Like many things we want to do in life, there are little obstacles that can get in the way of sharing. When it comes to educational resources, that little obstacle typically looks like this: ©Not all the content you might use in a given resource is of your own creation. You build upon the work of others and make use of content whose rights are held by individuals, corporations, and organizations around the world. Respecting the copyright of those who we borrow and build from is an essential component of strengthening the culture of sharing.

In this step, you assess the resources you intend to share to determine what content (text, images, audio, video) you can freely use, what content may need to be removed, and what you will need to seek permission to use. You also determine what you might be able to create on your own or what you could replace with openly licensed content. Whoa. This is a big step. Don't hold back, post your questions in the discussion.


Retaining content

Remember when we put things into two piles? Well, take the pile of your own stuff and make sure that you've marked it with the license you want. Easy and done. Now for the other pile. First, start with the content that has a license already (you should have kept track of this when you were gathering things in step 3). You can keep and use all of that content -- this is the beauty of public licenses. These people have already given you permission to use their stuff. But pay attention to the particular license they attached to the content. Unless it's a simple Creative Commons Attribution only license, there are going to be some constraints on how you can use the content. If you need to, review the Get CC Savvy course to brush up on what the licenses mean.   


* Deep dive

Not to sound philosophical, but copyright is, well, can be, an exercise in philosophical argument. Digging into that realm is the subject of another recommended Deep Dive Course: Copyright for Educators (US) and/or Copyright for Educators (AUS).

Australia and the U.S. are not the only countries in the world (contrary to some beliefs). Dealing with international copyright law makes things a bit more complicated. While you might be making a perfectly simple fair use in the U.S., that might not fly in Kenya. There are a variety of implications for an international context that you might want to think about when making OER:

{ We've included "Create Challenge" buttons where we think a challenge should exist. Can you create it? If so, we'll add it here. Also add challenges and resources where you think they fit! }


Replacing and removing

If it's not yours and you're not up for doing some copyright sleuthing, get rid of that risky content. Anything that you can replace, use replacement content that has an open license or just make something yourself. Creating new content isn't necessarily hard and might be a perfectly simple alternative. Once you've got all your replacements ready, you'll want to remove what's left over. Honestly, this is often the content that's totally extraneous to the resource. You might not miss it at all.


* Tool tips

As you go about assessing the resources, you can use a few tools to manage your progress. One we recommend is OERca: it keeps track of the decisions you make in clearing content and is a place to share comments with other dScribes. Of course, face to face meetings still provide the best results in creating OER, but the benefit of OERca is the opportunity it gives all involved to collaborate remotely and work at their own pace. We also like to use spreadsheets in Google Docs as a quick and lightweight tool to track our progress.

Task Discussion