Creative Commons Licenses and Sharing an Online Rhetoric Textbook

Ryan Edel | 8/21/2023

Notes on OER Textbook

Sometimes it helps to take notes on future plans, and this is one of those posts.  I'm currently working on a digital rhetoric textbook, and I'm trying to determine the best type of licensing to use for it.  Ideally, I'd like a license that would keep the digital textbook free for anyone to use for educational purposes, but also allow me to sell print copies in the future.

Creative Commons

Never make the mistake of assuming you understand how copyright licenses work!  I'm constantly reading about copyright and fair use, so I thought I was pretty knowledgeable, but there are some important nuances when you apply creative commons licenses.  Basically, a creative commons license provides specific limitations that allow a kind of "free use with permission."  I don't know all the nuances, but I found some sites that are helpful:

And this is where the rabbit hole began!  I saw the CC link at the bottom of their page and clicked it for some reason, and then I found myself staring at a page that had distinct hints of legalese.  And I'm glad I did.  I see now that I don't know as much about these licenses as I thought.

Speaking of...I should probably register for this conference.  Seeing as it's about OER materials, and I'm trying to create one...

In this guide, Weichler gives an overview of key points of using CC works produced by others, but I find her final point very important.  As she explains, you can still sell a CC work that you've produced, as is the case with the Cards Against Humanities game: "Players have the option to download the game and print out the cards for free, or they can buy professionally printed versions and expansion packs."  That sounds like exactly the kind of license I'd like for my teaching materials — buy my stuff if you have the money, but use it for free if you need.

Share Your Work via Creative Commons

I didn't realize that Creative Commons was an actual organization — I simply assumed it was a standard license for different materials, and I didn't give much thought to who came up with it or why it came in multiple versions.  But it is a specific license that comes in a variety of types, and I'll definitely be investigating these further before I post my textbook to the open web.