Draft (05-Apr-2015)

Copyrights and Sharing

The legal concept of copyrights was established to help protect intellectual property rights.
Open-ESL.org is hosted in the United States, and operates in the context of U.S. copyright law.

Your Creative Works

Your materials are automatically copyrighted as soon as you create them. Period.

If you wish to share them with the public in a way that makes them freely usable, you need to take explicit action to either declare them to be part of the public domain, or “license” them for use.

“Creative Commons” (CC) is a great mechanism to release your work, while still maintaining some ownership rights and control.

You do not have to submit your work to any agency to declare a CC license. All you have to do is mark your work as covered by a specific CC license.

With Creative Commons you can decide:

  • That you want users to attribute your work in an explicit way- or not.
  • That you will allow others to adapt your work- or not.
  • That adaptations of your work must be released under the same terms- or not.
  • That you will allow commercial use of your work- or not.

Choose a Creative Commons license: License Chooser

Any version of the CC licenses will allow us to post the material on the Open-ESL.org site.

If you are having trouble making up your mind, consider using this license:
“Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License”
It's as simple as inserting that text into your content, or marking your work with either of these two symbols:

Create Content
Create Content

(Right click either image and use context menu to copy or to save to your device)

Consider ways you can label content that you submit to the Sandbox. There are plenty of examples shown in existing content objects here!
Explicitly indicating that it is either available through a Creative Commons "license", or by declaring your work to be in the "Public Domain" will help reassure other teachers that the object is freely usable. Indication of a work's creator is also important and can be done in small print at the bottom of a page.

Works by Others

There are three categories of work that are “in the public domain” and not protected by copyrights:

  • Most work created by U.S. government agencies and employees
  • Works whose copyrights have expired
  • Works that have been explicitly declared by their author(s) to be in the “public domain”

Unless you are absolutely sure that materials fall into one of those three categories, you should assume the material is protected by copyright, and cannot be freely distributed.

There is no guarantee that any works in those categories are explicitly marked as such. However, sometimes you will see one of these symbols on “public domain” works:

Create Content
Create Content
Create Content
Create Content

What material can be posted on Open-ESL.org?

  • Works in the “public domain”
  • Works licensed under Creative Commons
  • Works “protected” under a “GNU Free Documentation License”
    (Similar to Creative Commons, but not as widely used. You will mostly see this in software documentation.)

When you submit materials, indicate which category is applicable.