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Creative Commons and USAID Collaborate on Guide to Open Licensing

Ma, 2020-01-13 22:50

Creative Commons regularly works with governments, foundations, and other institutions worldwide to help them create, adopt, and implement open licensing policies. These policies typically require grant recipients to openly license and freely share the work they create with grant funds. We do this to ensure publicly (and privately) funded works are openly licensed and freely available to be accessed, used, and remixed by the public.

“Open Licensing of Primary Grade Reading Materials,” USAID (CC BY.40)

Over the past two years, we’ve been working with USAID, the Global Book Alliance, the Global Digital Library, and the Global Reading Network on early childhood reading programs, with a focus on helping these programs to recognize the potential of open licensing to increase the reach and efficacy of resources that promote youth literacy. In the course of doing that work, we all realized that additional materials needed to be created for grantees of the programs to not only understand the open license grant requirements, but to undertake the practical steps of implementing open licenses. To respond to that need, we collaborated with USAID and the Global Reading Network to write and co-publish Open Licensing of Primary Grade Reading Materials: Considerations and Recommendations, a guide to open licenses that includes an introduction to the basics of copyright, an overview of the benefits of open licensing, and suggestions for choosing and implementing open licenses.

The document is licensed under CC BY 4.0, meaning that it can be freely used by the public, including government agencies, policy makers, and grant making institutions looking to educate their constituencies about the benefits of openness and best practices in implementing open licensing.

Collaborations like this are some of the most important and rewarding work CC is involved with. If you’re affiliated with a government or institution that could use our help in making the case for open licensing, please get in touch with us at

See also: USAID’s Open Licensing Policy Rationale

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U.S. Appellate Court Enforces CC’s Interpretation of NonCommercial

Ti, 2020-01-07 23:28

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit reaffirmed Creative Commons’ interpretation of activities that are permissible under the NonCommercial (NC) licenses, which allow bona fide noncommercial reusers to hire out the making of copies of NC-licensed content, even to profit-making businesses such as Office Depot and FedEx Office. Below is an excerpt from the decision:

Under the License, a non-commercial licensee may hire a third-party contractor including those working for commercial gain, to help implement the License at the direction of the licensee and in furtherance of the licensee’s own licensed rights. The License extends to all employees of the schools and school districts and shelters Office Depot’s commercial copying of Eureka Math on their behalf.”

This is the second time a federal appellate court in the United States has adopted CC’s interpretation of NC. The first decision was published by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit last year (summarized here) and involved copying by FedEx Office at the behest of school districts admittedly using the works for noncommercial purposes. 

CC’s position has been clear in both of these cases: so long as commercial actors are not acting independently for their own commercial gain but solely on behalf of noncommercial actors, they are protected by the license granted to the noncommercial actors.

After all, entities must act through employees, contractors, and agents as a necessity. To require every teacher, employee (including part-time student employees), and third-party contractor making copies of NC licensed works to forego payment for their services would make it impossible for those types of licensees to use the works and facilitate sharing for noncommercial purposes.

This is a huge win for educators, school districts and, most importantly, students.

All students deserve access to effective open education resources (OER) and meaningful, inclusive learning opportunities. These NC-licensed OER will help ensure students have access to the effective learning resources they need by allowing schools to seek assistance in making copies when they do not have sufficient resources to do so on their own. Further, because these resources were created using public funds received by the New York State Education Department from the U.S. Department of Education, it’s important that they remain openly licensed.

In October, Creative Commons requested permission to file an amicus and participate in oral argument. Our requests were granted, and our amicus brief (friend of the court brief) with the 9th Circuit became part of the record. Andrew Gass of Latham & Watkins argued the case on behalf of CC (video). 

A very special thanks to Latham & Watkins for their hard work and diligence over the course of both the 2nd Circuit and 9th Circuit cases.

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CC Certificate Graduate on the Ripple Effect of Open Licensing Expertise for K12 Pedagogy

To, 2019-12-12 22:45

After running 26 CC Certificate courses, and certifying hundreds of graduates, CC is exploring the way the courses impact graduates and their communities.

In this interview, we highlight one CC Certificate graduate’s work within Connecticut, a #GoOpen state, and celebrate the momentum he’s built in open education. 

This interview is with Kevin Corcoran. Kevin is the Executive Director of Digital Learning at the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities System (CSCU) and the Statewide OER Coordinator for Connecticut. He graduated from the first official CC Certificate Educator course in 2018. Since then, he’s organized a 25-person cohort of academic librarians from the higher education system in Connecticut to take the CC Certificate. He’s also taught master’s level courses, such as “Intro to Ed Tech” and “Intro to OER” at Fairfield University. Kevin adopted the CC Certificate coursework to empower current and future K12 educators within their program to advocate and implement open practices in their classrooms and districts. 

This conversation has been lightly edited for clarity and length. 

Kevin, thank you for making the time for this interview! We want to learn more about your work post taking the CC Certificate, and the ripple effect it’s having within Connecticut. But first, tell us a little more about yourself. What makes you happy outside of work? 

My family. My wife Lora and my daughter Kylie both share my odd sense of humor and the drive to help others. (My wife advocates for animal rights and my daughter supports an anti-bully campaign through her Girl Scouts troop.)

Why did you take the CC Certificate? 

I had become recognized as a leader in the OER* movement within Connecticut. As people looked to me for answers, I wanted to ensure that I was giving the best possible information that I could.

*OER are Open Educational Resources. They are teaching, learning, and research materials in any medium that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits no-cost access, adaptation, and redistribution by others.  

You were a member of first CC Certificate for Educators course. What were some of your impressions of the course?

The course exceeded my expectations. Not only did I explore the origins of copyright law and Creative Commons, I received a deeper understanding of the CC license attributes and connected with OER colleagues from around the globe. The threaded discussions and Slack channel provided even greater exploration of copyright and licensing questions. The course was rigorous, but all of the assignments had real-life application if you invested the time.

We understand that Connecticut is a #GoOpen state, and your work helps educators open their teaching practices. Tell us a little about your teaching at Fairfield University and how you’ve used the experience of your Certificate to reach future educators.

I am an adjunct within the Graduate School of Education and Allied Professions for the Masters in Educational Technology program. The students within this program are pre-service and current K12 teachers. Integrating open practices alongside ISTE standards for 21st century learners seemed like a natural fit, especially with an emphasis on digital citizenship and collaboration.

When Dr. Joshua Elliott (Assistant Professor of Educational Studies & Teacher Preparation at Fairfield University) approached me to develop an introductory online course for OER, I, of course, revisited the openly licensed CC certificate course materials. There was rich information to pull from on copyright law, Creative Commons licensing, and the OER movement. I was also able to remix some of the discussion questions and assignments.

In the clip below, Kevin discusses the impact of the CC Certificate. 

Our students (K12 teachers) were asked not only to create presentations, in any format that they like, that could be used for student or administration education on copyright and Creative Commons within their districts, but also a final reflective paper that also served as an action plan. I was able to see how our students would take the information that they had learned and implement within their classroom and advocate change within their district. Some students have remained in contact after the course completed to gather more information.*

In the clip below, Kevin explains the value of OER in K-12 education.

What are the results from the course you just taught? 

This one is hard to answer as an adjunct. I’ve had a few students remain in contact, especially Aimee Guerrero, a Library Media Specialist. I’ve provided additional resources to the students and tried to connect them with statewide K12 leaders. I’ve worked with Aimee to support her case to her district leadership.

In the clip below, Aimee discusses CC and her 4th grade class.

Are there any ways in which CC can help you with future open pedagogy efforts? 

The case for college-level adoption of OER are robust. There is/are plenty of research and supporting resources. The K12 setting faces slightly different challenges for adoption – cost savings vs. cost re-investment, school policy on content ownership, district/curriculum committee decisions vs. individual faculty/department, student privacy/under 18 copyright concerns. The open community needs to build on-ramps for K12 districts and I believe CC can be a leader here.

It’s so great hearing about initiatives like this one and to see how it works within the larger open education movement. If there’s one piece of advice you could give people, like educators or administrators, considering conducting open work at their institution, what would it be?

I would suggest starting the conversation the same way I did with my students: watch David Wiley’s 2010 TEDxNYED Talk on openness. While some of the messaging around OER has evolved (like the 5 Rs of permissions), his core message that education is fundamentally about sharing should set the proper tone. From there, I would encourage folks to explore a repository like OER Commons and see what’s possible.

Thanks again for your time with us here. 

We celebrate Kevin’s excellent work, and we want to celebrate more of our CC Certificate alumni’s work, as well as the fantastic work of people in the broader open education community! If you have a story about something you’ve tried or an open project you’ve accomplished at your institution, please let us know by emailing us at

In response to the growing use of CC licenses globally, and the corresponding need for open licensing expertise, CC offers the CC Certificate course. The CC Certificate trains people in copyright, open licensing and the ethos of working with our global, shared commons using CC licenses. The program is an investment in educators and advocates of open movements, offering a way to build and strengthen their open licensing and “commons” expertise. To learn more about the course, visit

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Our Book, “Creative Commons for Educators and Librarians,” Is Now Available

Pe, 2019-12-06 18:33

We’re happy to announce that our collaboration with the American Library Association (ALA) to create the print companion to the CC Certificate has finally come to fruition! 

The book, Creative Commons for Educators and Librarians, is now published under CC BY and offers an additional way to access the openly licensed CC Certificate content. It’s available in print at the ALA store, or it can be downloaded from our website! 

Whether you’re a volunteer, professor, instructional designer, researcher, administrator or technologist—or simply looking for a great holiday gift—this book offers a background on copyright law, as well as a clear guide to open licensing and open advocacy. You can read this book on its own or while taking the CC Certificate course. 

The ALA is the oldest and largest library association in the world, “providing leadership for the development, promotion and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all.” 

After initial collaboration with the ALA on “Copytalk” webinars, we were delighted to partner with them for this project under the shared goal of increasing equitable access to information. 

Download or buy a hardcopy of Creative Commons for Educators and Librarians today!

Interested in taking the CC Certificate? Check out our website to learn more. For additional information about this collaboration with the ALA, read our previous post, “Book Preview: “Creative Commons for Educators and Librarians.”


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A Coalition to Support Implementation of the UNESCO OER Recommendation

To, 2019-11-28 17:19
New UNESCO House in Paris. United Nations. 1958-September-01 / CC BY-NC-ND

The UNESCO Open Educational Resources (OER) Recommendation was unanimously adopted on November 25 by 193 UNESCO member states at the 40th UNESCO General Conference. This milestone offers a unique opportunity to advance open education around the world.

Why does it matter? This Recommendation is an official UNESCO instrument that gives national governments a specific list of recommendations to support open education in their countries and to collaborate with other nations.

Creative Commons is thrilled with this important milestone! We’ve been working on open education with UNESCO, the Commonwealth of Learning, and multiple national government and institutional partners for over 15 years. CC was on the drafting committee for both the 2012 UNESCO OER Declaration and the 2019 UNESCO OER Recommendation. In 2015, CC worked with UNESCO on its Open Access Repository. CC also attended and keynoted the 2017 UNESCO OER Global Congress

Recognizing the importance of the UNESCO OER Recommendation, a coalition of organizations active in advancing open education globally has joined forces to support its implementation. Coalition partners, in alphabetical order, are:

The coalition will collectively leverage these organizations’ strengths and expertise, combining and coordinating efforts to create and deliver comprehensive resources and services in support of implementing the Recommendation across all UNESCO member states. The coalition will meet in early 2020 to develop a list of services, materials, activities, and communication plans that we will use to support national governments. Implementation support will be focused on providing assistance for the Recommendation:

Five areas of action:

  • Building capacity of stakeholders to create, access, use, adapt and redistribute OER
  • Developing supportive policy
  • Encouraging inclusive and equitable quality OER
  • Nurturing the creation of sustainability models for OER
  • Facilitating international cooperation

Monitoring and reporting:

  • Deploying appropriate research programmes, tools and indicators to measure effectiveness
  • Collecting, presenting, and disseminating progress, good practices innovations and research reports
  • Strategies for monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness and long-term financial efficiency of OER

For more information contact:

Dr. Cable Green
Interim CEO & Director of Open Education
Creative Commons
cable@ creativecommons dot org

Jennryn Wetzler
Assistant Director of Open Education
Creative Commons
jennryn@ creativecommons dot org

The coalition also welcomes questions, requests, and suggestions using this form.

CC is excited to work together with stakeholders around the world in building open education capacity and effectiveness. Together we can fulfill the aims and objectives of the UNESCO OER Recommendation and make significant progress in achieving access to quality education for all. Let’s get to work.

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Millions Now Have Access to the CC Certificate in Italian and Arabic!

Ke, 2019-11-27 17:26

To date, the CC Certificate has only been available in English. However, thanks to the incredible efforts of CC Global Network members, the CC Certificate course content (e.g., readings, articles, etc.) is being translated into multiple languages.

In particular, we are proud to highlight the work of CC Network members in Italy and Saudi Arabia. Paola Corti and Lokesh Rajendran have made CC Certificate content translations available in Italian and Arabic. With these translations, over 483 million additional people around the world have access to the course content in their first language.

In addition to these translations, the first country case study was debuted today in English and Italian at the Open Education Global Conference in Italy. The country case study, titled General Principles on “Diritto d’Autore” and Related Rights in Italy provides supplementary information on the rules regulating authors’ rights in Italy.

How are these additions and translations possible?

Upon successfully completing the CC Certificate*, Paola Corti (METID – Politecnico di Milano Project Manager and Instructional Designer) and Lokesh Rajendran (National Center for e-Learning Project Manager) downloaded the CC BY course content and applied their open licensing expertise to create the first translations of the CC Certificate to meet their communities’ needs in Italy and Saudi Arabia. They licensed the works CC BY 4.0 to enable maximum reuse. Their work with METID – Politecnico di Milano colleagues (Deborah de Angelis and Laura Sinigaglia) and National Center for e-Learning’s Saudi Open Educational Content Program team members (Ahmed Al Mobarak, Saleh Al Khaliwey, Rabah Al Bawardi, Sara Mazen, and Maha Al Sheikh) took between 3-5 months to complete.

Their work exemplifies what’s possible when educational resources are openly licensed. Creative Commons has licensed its CC Certificate content CC BY with the intent of making the content as useful and accessible as possible. The CC BY license enables anyone to create adaptations (also known as derivatives), such as language translations, to better meet the needs of different audiences.

We laud these Certificate graduates for their fantastic work, and look forward to highlighting future translations of the CC Certificate content! If you are interested in this work, please contact

*The CC Certificate provides an-in depth study of Creative Commons licenses and open practices, uniquely developing participants’ open licensing proficiency and understanding of the broader context for open advocacy. The training content targets copyright law and CC legal tools, as well as the values and good practices of working in the global, shared commons. The CC Certificate is available as either a 10-week online course or a one-week, in-person training to educators and academic librarians.


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Indian State of Odisha Releases 21 Dictionaries Under CC BY

Ti, 2019-11-12 17:54

When governments choose to use Creative Commons licenses to preserve and share cultural knowledge, like Indigenous languages, it illustrates how our licenses can help create a more accessible and equitable world. 

Recently, CC India’s Global Network Representative (GNC) Subhashish Panigrahi brought to our attention that the Indian state of Odisha licensed 21 dictionaries—in all 21 Indigenous languages that are spoken in the province—under CC BY 4.0. This opens them up for adaptation, distribution, and remixing by anyone.

Download or view all of the dictionaries here. 

Global Voices underlined the particular significance of this announcement in a tweet, posting: “India is home to over 780 languages and approximately 220-250 languages have died over the last 50 years.” 

The Indian state of Odisha publishes online dictionaries in 21 indigenous languages India is home to over 780 languages and approximately 220-250 languages have died over the last 50 years.

— Global Voices (@globalvoices) October 24, 2019

According to Sailesh Patnaik, a volunteer with the Odia Wikipedia community and formerly associated with the Centre for Internet and Society, this move by the Odisha government is the result of years of collaboration and community requests. In fact, Patnaik and other volunteers from the Odia Wikipedia community worked with the government in 2017 to license all of its social media content under CC BY 4.0. This made Odisha “the first state entity in India to release all of its social media posts under a free Creative Commons license…”

We couldn’t be happier to see CC licenses being used to facilitate translation projects and sharing that could ultimately help protect Indigenous languages, knowledge, and culture. We hope that other governments and policy makers around the world will take heed and similarly make valuable content and tools like these dictionaries openly available to the public. 

If you work with a government or institution that needs consultation on how to use CC licenses, please email us at

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We Support the UNESCO Recommendation on OER

To, 2019-10-24 18:51

As part of the drafting committee, Creative Commons (CC) fully supports the UNESCO Recommendation on Open Educational Resources (OER) on which the member states will vote at the 40th session of the UNESCO General Conference in November. We laud the multitude of national governments and open education experts engaged in the development of this international agreement. We look forward to collaborating with these governments and our NGO colleagues in the coming months and years to help Ministries/Departments of Education implement this Recommendation. 

The UNESCO Recommendation on OER* sets out a transformative vision of open education, contributing to the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.

Below are the five objectives from the draft Recommendation. You can also view the entire document here.

1. Capacity building: developing the capacity of all key education stakeholders to create, access, use, adapt, and redistribute OER, as well as to use and apply open licenses in a manner consistent with national copyright legislation and international obligations;

2. Developing supportive policy: encouraging governments, and education authorities and institutions to adopt regulatory frameworks to support open licensing of publicly funded educational materials, develop strategies to enable use and adaptation of OER in support of high quality, inclusive education and lifelong learning for all, and adopt integrated mechanisms to recognize the learning outcomes of OER-based programmes of study;

3. Effective inclusive and equitable access to quality OER: supporting the adoption of strategies and programmes, including through relevant technology solutions that ensure OER in any medium are shared in open formats and standards to maximize equitable access, co-creation, curation, and search ability, including for those from vulnerable groups and persons with disabilities;

4. Nurturing the creation of sustainability models for OER: supporting and encouraging the creation of sustainability models for OER at national and institutional levels, and the planning and pilot test of new sustainable forms of education and learning;

5. Facilitating international cooperation: supporting international cooperation between stakeholders to minimize unnecessary duplication in OER development investments and to develop a global pool of culturally diverse, locally relevant, gender-sensitive, accessible, educational materials in multiple languages.

Here’s a brief timeline of the efforts leading up to the UNESCO Recommendation on OER and CC’s continued engagement:

  • 2019: Member states and observer organizations, including Creative Commons, provided multiple edits to the Recommendation draft including an improved open license definition; calling on member states to support the linguistic translation of open licenses; adopting high standards for privacy in OER, platforms, and services; and a call to facilitate open procurement.
  • 2017: The 2nd World Congress unanimously adopted the 2017 Ljubljana OER Action Plan. The Congress hosted 30 ministers of education and participants from over 100 countries, with the goal of mainstreaming open education to meet the education targets in the United Nations SDG4.
  • 2015: UNESCO announced a new Open Access Repository making more than 300 digital reports, books, and articles available to the world under CC licenses, in line with the 2013 UNESCO Open Access Policy.
  • 2012: The groundwork for the current OER Recommendation was laid in the 2012 Paris OER Declaration.

In partnership with our open education colleagues, CC will provide a suite of professional development, policy, networking, and consulting services to national governments as they engage in national and regional efforts to implement the UNESCO OER Recommendation in 2020. Stay tuned!

*Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching, learning, and research materials in any medium that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits no-cost access, adaptation, and redistribution by others.

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