Wednesday, May 09, 2007

To Copyright or To Copyleft - Is That the Question?

Recently, Lisa (our "fab" new leader on the 8th Floor) and I had an interesting conversation about the difference between copyright (which we all know and pretend to understand) and copyleft (which is kind of an uncomfortable perspective for some of us).

The Internet and, perhaps even more so, Web 2.0 tools have changed the way information is "shared." Most people, especially students, feel that if it's on the web, it's free. Well no, it's not that easy, but it also doesn't have to be that hard. We can still maintain control over our material by giving over control of our material. You choose!

Creative Commons is a popular site for designing your own level of "rights reserved" on the material you put on the web. For many of us, it's not a question of whether we are willing to share our material. Let's face it; as educators, isn't that the business we are in? The question is, what do we want to allow others to do with our material? Again, you choose!

There has been quite a bit of chatter regarding the use of copyleft as opposed to copyright when it comes to online and education. Unfortunately, confusingly, the same old rules don't seem to apply. I am both excited by the new attitude of real sharing, and also frustrated by having to understand new, undulating rules.

If you have any insights or comments, we'd love to hear them.

Lee Anne