Archive for the 'ipr' Category

OpenAttribute tool

Monday, February 7th, 2011
Happy woman

Jubilation / Keith Kristoffer Bacongco ( / CC BY 2.0 (

Today we are very excited in the TALL office because David Kernohan has drawn our attention to the very cool OpenAttribute tool, available from

As the site says:

The problem: Creative Commons licensed content is awesome, but attributing it properly can be difficult and confusing. The first rule for re-using openly licensed content is that you have to properly attribute the creator. There are specific requirements for what needs to go into that attribution, but those requirements can be confusing and hard to find.

It is in no way an exaggeration to say that a tool which addresses this challenge has caused jubilation from the project team at TALL, who while we frequently use OERs are always worried we have inadvertaintly attributed things wrongly.

As you can see from the example of the picture here, we can generate attributions from this tool in plain text (as in the caption) or in html (Jubilation / Keith Kristoffer Bacongco / CC BY 2.0) which is clearly more elegant, but not always an option.

Reuse in action

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

Having been involved in several research projects around the area of OERs (especially OpenSpires) and more specifically the reuse of existing content (Mosaic and Cascade),  it is really gratifying to see some of this work enter our mainstream course production practice.   A major benefit of Mosaic was a real tightening up of our approaches to reuse, copyright and IPR across our entire short course programme and this is now starting to really pay dividends.

An example is the course we are currently developing on Globalization, available in May.  Among other things, this course is using podcasts recorded by the author Jonathan Michie with the OpenSpires team.  As we will be providing transcripts to make the course fully accessible we can make sure that these are fed back to enhance the original OERs – a virtuous circle.

Open Educational Resources at Continuing Education

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

Among our other record breaking recruitment this term we have also launched the Ancestral Voices course developed as part of the Mosaic project for the 3rd time, with the largest cohort yet – in fact our maximum of 32 students.

I am sure this is not statistically significant, but for us it is our first example of freely available content, and students who are still prepared to pay for the full tutored learning experience.   Definitely a good sign for persuading the Department to do more with OERs.


Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

TALL is part of a team, led by Oxford University Computing Services, that has recently been awarded funding from the JISC/HE Academy Open Educational Resources Programme for the Open Spires project.
The project has two purposes: to increase the amount of learning content (especially audio and video) released from Oxford and to enable the University to investigate the implications of making some of this material available as ‘Open Content’ under a Creative Commons or other suitable license. This means that quality educational content will be available for reuse and redistribution by third parties globally, provided that it is used in a non-commercial way and is attributed to its creator.
This funding will enable the University to build upon the Oxford iTunes U service launched in October 2008, which has widespread participation from Oxford academics. Oxford podcasts currently include recordings of guest lectures, interviews with researchers and conference presentations. The project will have a global impact, as the free-to-download resources are in many cases from speakers, researchers and visiting lecturers with high international profiles.
The project hopes to benefit the University by:

  • Enhancing Oxford’s global reputation – enabling the production of more material that has international impact and places the University in a leading position within the UK Open Content movement.
  • Ensuring expert legal scrutiny – the complex licensing and IPR issues associated with Open Content will be investigated by the University’s Legal Service office.
  • Enhancing current provision and accessibility – text transcripts will be produced to accompany existing podcasts.
  • Enabling the University to produce more audio and video content that brings the modern day University to life for its many alumni.
  • Improving admissions by enabling the production of more podcasts that will reach and inspire the key 16-18 age group.

The project started on 30 April 2009 and will last for one year.

Licensing academic content

Monday, March 30th, 2009

One of the clearest lessons from Mosaic is how much content which may be used for learning exists on the open web through university domains, either in the websites of specific projects, individual academic initiative or other models.  However what is noticeable is that the vast majority of this material has no obvious licence or copyright statement attached to it.  It is a reasonable assumption that when academics put content on the open web, they think that they have shared it and made it open, and in reality for most use they have.  However attaching a licence such as Creative commons  allows for easier uptake. While in some cases this may be a deliberate omission, in most it is probably because they are unaware of these licences and what they mean, or they are aware of them, but don’t feel that they understand them well enough to implement them, or that they suspect using them may contravene IPR held by their university, and don’t know how to find out, so dodge the issue by not engaging with it.

It seems many of the barriers to reuse would be reduced if universities developed clear policies on licensing their exsiting web based outputs and applied it as broadly as possible across all their activities. This is happening already in certain domains – OERs and research outputs from an ever growing list of funders, but especially where universities are publicly funded, surely open licensing should be the default not the exception.

Eddie Izzard brings Old English to life

Monday, January 26th, 2009

Just two days before we launch  our Ancestral voices: the earliest English literature course as part of the Mosaic project, we are still finding excellent content we want to use.  As our author Sandie Byrne said, “I wish I had found this before”

Because of the specific approach we have taken to licensing and incorporating content into the course for JISC we are not going to be able to use this for this run, but next time we’ll do what we can.

License awareness, for perfectly informed consumers…

Tuesday, December 16th, 2008

These days it’s very easy to acquire digital copies of stories, pictures, music, video, fonts, code – any sort of media you care to mention. Sometimes this is legal, notably through open source/free software, creative commons licenses, and Bittorrent. Sometimes it’s illegal – through Bittorrent*, copying files from websites, lending CDs/DVDs, etc.

Obviously, this is in clear conflict with established media industries, often represented by acronyms groups like the BSA, RIAA, and MPAA, who want to maintain their historical place in the distribution channels. Many others around the web have commented on how these businesses need to realize that they don’t have a right to a profit in their particular part of the market, and I concur, but won’t rehash that here.

Instead, the whole reason for this post is to point to what I hope is the way forwards: License transparency at the client level – nicely demonstrated with the display of licensing information in recent work on the Banshee media player.

I don’t think this feature has filtered out to a release yet, but a suitably enabled Banshee will display the license information for songs, along with the track name, duration, etc.

This may not seem like the sort of thing that would be useful to 99% of the population, but it is relevant to 100% of the population, as many people may not realize that, in many cases, ripping the CD they borrowed from cousin Kev is illegal. For the cases where it’s the artist’s intent that copies should be made, I think it should be advertised and encouraged.

As a both a musician and an open-source enthusiast, licensing rights can be an important tool to help me ensure the quality and longevity of my work in both those areas. I haven’t a solid plan for this, but suspect that outright, no-strings, free-for-all copying won’t help me develop my rock-star career. (Any advice on developing the rock-star career is welcome 🙂

I believe that most people don’t currently consider the licensing of the media they use, and just copy it if they feel like it. Rather than taking the futile DRM approach, I think it’d be better to share media quite liberally, and for software to inform people what’s going on, enabling appreciative users to support it – with financial (particularly for music), and direct (more relevant with software) contributions.

If we’re in a market-driven economy, let’s try and work towards perfectly informing the consumers…

Merry Christmas!
Dave B.

* Note the dual use (legal/illegal) potential of some technologies.
† Ok, I’m a drummer – it’s close enough 😉

Open source textbooks

Thursday, September 11th, 2008

The Commonwealth of Virginia is getting into open textbooks (with a Creative Commons license).

Where are we up to with Mosaic

Tuesday, August 19th, 2008

I have just sent the interim report for the Mosaic project to JISC, which has provided a good chance to think about where we have got to so far. The main news is we have decided to delay the launch of the course “Voices from the Past: The Earliest English Literature” until January 2009. This is due to several different factors, but the main one is the fact that it is going to take us a while to clear all the copyright – the first spreadsheet is complete and currently contains 206 items, a daunting number.

The process of copyright clearance is still the big unknown for this project, as really we are just at the start of what is probably going to be a long slow process. However, what is gratifying has been discovering that the content was out there in the first place, if not in the repositories or as learning objects, and that there was enough to make a coherent academically rigorous course.

I think it is worth noting that the success of the project thus far is substantially down to the efforts of Sandie Byrne our main “author” or in this case “compiler” or “linker”? There is no doubt that working in this way uses skills that many academics do not have and even for those that do, there is definitely a need to think more deeply about the cost benefit of reuse as opposed to creation, stepping away from the theoretical stance that it ought to be more efficient and examining the reality.

Course Writing Diary

Tuesday, June 10th, 2008

We are still having problems with Sandie’s access to post to this blog, so here is her dairy for the last few months

2 April 2008

Searching for useful Anglo-Saxon and Old English websites to use for the MOSAIC project has been illuminating. As well as the better-known academic sites and databases, I’ve come across a number of sites produced by people not affiliated to an educational institution or publisher or such. Some of these are large, complex, and beautifully illustrated, clearly the work of dedication and devotion. I’m including a number of these in the course, and listing others for further exploration, because the enthusiasm is infectious and I hope that in looking at them participants will see that learning about the Anglo-Saxon world can be a great pleasure, and fun. One site contains photographs of ‘Anglo-Saxon’ villagers going about daily tasks, and includes detailed descriptions of the villagers and their respective occupations. That should be very useful for participants writing the diary’ of Anglo-Saxon life activity I hope to include.

10 April 2008

I’ve amassed a huge collection of possible existing online material on Anglo-Saxon history and Old English literature to use for the MOSAIC project. The problem will be in making a selection so that the course is not dauntingly huge, and the amount of required reading is of a practical length. Also, there is quite a lot of overlap between some sites. I might want to include one section of one site but to leave out others because they contain the same sort of material as another. I hope that when we start to contact the site owners and to clear copyright that they will allow partial as well as complete use of their respective sites.

20 April 2008

The units are coming together and I’ve managed to prune each one so that the required reading and other activities are comparable in amount (words) and duration (i.e. total study and participation time) to the other courses we run at this level. There is a difference between the structure of this course and the other (literature) courses I’ve written. The writing of the literature courses always comes before the production of the live online course, and follows a structure that I am familiar with and a set order. For this course, writing and production are chicken and egg. In the literature courses, participants read course materials I have written, follow links to external materials, and read textbooks. Activities might be reading, discussing, or writing criticism. In this course, there will be no textbook and in a sense all the activities are reading – reading online material. As I don’t know which sites will be embedded in the course so that they follow my introductions and links seamlessly, which will open in new windows, and which will be accessed by participants clicking on links, I don’t know where reading the course ends and reading as an activity begins. Also, of course, I’m still writing under the assumption that we shall be given permission to use the sites I’ve chosen, and that may not be the case. The thing to do will be to stay flexible and regard what I’ve written as a succession of drafts – starting points from which we can work but which will change and develop over time.

1 May 2008

Tact will have to be employed in the negotiations with copyright holders. Some of the websites that I’ve included in the units have minor mistakes of spelling, punctuation and grammar which I’d like to correct before they appear in our course, but I’d hate to give offense. I hope that the copyright holders will regard this as just another stage in production – an extra copy-edit – since we all make mistakes, and typos are hard to spot in one’s own writing.

10 May 2008

I think that the ten units now comprise a coherent course. It moves from introducing the Anglo-Saxon peoples at the points of their various arrivals in the British Isles, to their culture, their language, their literature, their dominance over the country and its establishment as England, and finally the loss of that dominance. I would have liked to have set the scene more, with information about post-Roman Britain and the Romano-British, but there isn’t space. I have included some resources on the Vikings and Normans, and I hope that participants will be inspired to work both backwards and forwards from the period covered by the course. The other thing I must do is make sure that my introductory and linking text has some good illustrations, copyright permitting. Working with lavishly illustrated websites, it’s easy to forget that some will open separately, and I don’t want my words to look like the boring grey bits that people will skip!

5 June 2008

Meeting with Marion and Tom in the TALL office. Marion has brilliant ideas for the design of the course and the different ways in which the external materials will work. Most can be incorporated or open in new windows, and we shall be asking for permission to set up some mirror sites. It will be important to have the larger database-type sites (lexicons, dictionaries, lists) available to participants but not fixed in position so that they have to be navigated before the participant can move on, so those will open out of the introductory and link material. Tom is working on obtaining permissions, and has already produced a list of my suggested external sources and their respective owners. It’s huge!