“Provide Case Studies”

Following my recent post in which I highlighted Glyn Moody’s concerns regarding “Threats to Openness” I received a tweet from @Brunella in which she suggested that she would prefer specific details based on case studies as opposed, I imagine, to a generic call to embrace openness.

The Spirit Is Willing; The Content is Complex!

Coincidentally there was an action on me to describe the approaches I take to making my presentations available with a Creative Commons licence, something I’d done for all of my public presentations since a talk on “Web Futures: Implications For HE” which I gave at King’s College London in January 2006.

The request came from Tom Baker, after I attended a Dublin Core tutorial which Tom and Makx Dekker gave just before Christmas.   Tom used a number of PowerPoint presentations in a series of talks on a variety of aspects of Dublin Core and Linked Data.  I noticed that the title slide for each of the slide decks contained a copyright statement  and wondered whether the slides would be made available after the event and if the content would be available with a licence which permitted reuse.  Tom responded that he would like to make the slides available with a Creative Commons licence but as the slides contained material from others, such as logos,  images and quotations, he was unsure whether he could make use of a Creative Commons licence.

I pointed out that this situation was not unusual – indeed slides which do not contain content from others are likely to be unusual, I would expect. This is certainly the case for my slides, which contain logos from funders, screen images, quotations, etc. So here’s a summary of the approaches I take to making the content available with a Creative Commons licence.

A Case Study in Use of Creative Commons

General Approaches

Since 2006 all of my presentations contain a Creative Commons logo on the title slide.  An example of a typical title slide, taken from my most recent talk on “Empowering Users and Institutions: A Risks and Opportunities Framework for Exploiting the Social Web” is illustrated below.

The Creative Commons logo is provided not only on the title slide but also on the template for the thumbnails of the slides, which can be useful if hard copies of the slides are made available.

The title slide (and the template for the thumbnails) also contain a URL of where the master copy of the slides is held. This makes it easy for anyone who wishes to reuse the content.  The thumbnail temple also contains a UKOLN logo which can help to identify the host organisation of the author.

Quite often (as in this case) the slides are also made available on Slideshare.  The rights statement on Slideshare is modified so that it reflects the Creative Commons licence which has been used. The slides are also made available for download from the Slideshare repository.

In many cases I also give permission for my talk to be recorded, with a Creative Commons licence also used for the recording of the talk. Note, though, that I often reserve rights to change my mind after I have given the talk if I feel that I have said something I shouldn’t have (although I have never enforced this).

What of the Complexities?

But what of the complexities of a resource such as a set of slides which is likely to contain content from a variety of sources? As well as the copyrighted logos from JISC, MLA, the University of Bath and UKOLN which are contained on the title slide, my typical presentations will contain many screen shots. They are also likely to contain quotes from others as, in good scholarly fashion, I try to provide an academic audit trail for my thoughts and arguments.

Doesn’t the complexities of such rights rule out use of Creative Commons – or require time-consuming negotiations to obtain permission to reuse content from others?

My approach has been to take a risk management approach and to ensure that the origin of content from others can be easily identified.  Underneath the Creative Commons logo is the statement:

This work is licensed under a Attribution-NonCommerical-ShareAlike 2.0 licence (but note caveat).

The caveat is followed by a link to a page on the UKOLN Web site which states that:

It should be noted that the presentation may contain screen images owned by others. Where possible citations for the images are provided (in the form of hypertext links to the source Web site).

Whenever I embed an image (which is normally a Web page) I try to include a link to the origin (typically as a hyperlinked blue arrow, but sometimes the URL may be displayed).  This is useful for me, as it can help me maintain my slides (e.g. checking whether a screen image is up-to-date).  But this also enables anyone who wishes to reuse my content to see where content came from, and to make their own judgement as to whether they are prepared to reuse such content.

I try to minimise the risks that a copyright holder will feel aggrieved by use of their content –  typically I use such content in a positive fashion (“here’s a good example of …“) so that any accusations that I am undermining the content owner’s revenue stream can be argued against.  And where I wish to be critical of a resource, I do not include any criticisms in the slides themselves, but make the content during the talk (or invite participants to give their opinions).

When I make use of a resource with a Creative Commons licence (such as a Flickr photograph) I will again provide a link to the origin. I also do this when I am including a quotation (although it may not always be possible to include a hyperlink).

To conclude, I regard a PowerPoint presentation as a complex object, containing multiple resources each with their own set of rights.  But rather than regarding such complexities as an excuse to avoid permitting reuse of my resources, my approach is to be open about the complexities and suggest that anyone who wishes to reuse the resources should make their own risk assessment, based on the information I have provided. This approach reflects the  ideas described by myself and Professor Charles Oppenheim in our recent paper on “Empowering Users and Institutions: A Risks and Opportunities Framework for Exploiting the Social Web“.

Is this an approach which others find useful?