By Elizabeth Heritage

Double Farley Creative Partners Limited is a Whanganui-based business that creates educational resources, trains teachers and promotes adult learning in its broadest sense. The stated aim of their business is to revolutionise adult education in New Zealand Aotearoa. I caught up with Creative Directors Melita Farley and Kevin Double to talk about open education and Creative Commons.

Kevin says: “We used to use a lot of stock imagery, but that gets really expensive really fast. Using Creative Commons content cuts out a lot of the admin. We can be confident that we can use the content as described by the licence. It’s really useful that the works come with set of usage rights, so we already know what can do with it and don’t have to go around chasing releases. We like that CC is global language and global standard. We use CC-licensed films, images, fonts, and icons.”

Melita Farley and Kevin Double, licensed CC BY

Melita Farley and Kevin Double, licensed CC BY

Kevin and Melita are always on the lookout for CC-licensed material from Aotearoa. “So much of the content out there is international and not culturally relevant. It’s been great to see the rapid rise of the creation of CC material in NZ. We use DigitalNZ all the time: it’s really useful to be able to search by licence conditions. We are proud to put the licence up and always reference our sources!”

It’s not always easy to tell whether you can use digitised heritage materials from Aotearoa. “There does seem to be some confusion about the difference between the public domain, CC, and ‘no known copyright’. We’ll often find the same image in different Kiwi institutions having contradictory rights statements. The more you have to sort out that kind of confusion, the more you’re back in that situation of needing a dedicated rights administrator.”

Melita and Kevin say that Creative Commons is increasingly on people’s radar in the education sector. “Clients are starting to request that we use openly licensed material. Some clients see CC as way of saving money.” There are still some common misunderstandings about CC and open education out there, though. “There are challenges with some tertiary institutions who want to use CC content but then don’t openly license the materials they create with it. Also, the ShareAlike and NonCommercial elements of CC are often poorly understood. There’s a myth of ‘we’re an educational institution so nothing we do can be construed as commercial’. Some people have got as far as understanding that CC means they’re allowed to copy, but then they don’t know how to attribute. Or they forget – or just can’t be bothered!”

Brownie, by Melita Farley and Kevin Double, licensed CC BY

Brownie, by Melita Farley and Kevin Double, licensed CC BY

Melita says: “A lot of clients have no idea what ‘open’ means, or they confuse ‘open’ and ‘free’. I find that the open educational resources (OERs) I create can be difficult to list on various directories because I’m not an institution. Lots of OER directories require you to be an employee of an educational institution in order to upload.”

Kevin and Melita are both users and creators of openly licensed material. “We are moving towards becoming more of a producer of CC material that sits around the bespoke, paid-for content. We want people to reuse our learning techniques, and to take away as many barriers as possible. For example, we sell stock sounds at very low prices. We’re thinking of making them free and CC-licensed, though, because using CC you get to see how people are using your work, which is much more interesting than selling it for small price. The fact that people have to attribute you also works as free promotion.”

Like many creators of educational resources, Melita and Kevin are wrestling with some big questions: “How do we develop a business that provides services around open content? How do we get people to pay us to do some of that work? What does this mean for our business model? We are passionate about educational resources being free and available for others to use. It’s important to bear in mind that human knowledge is a process of building on what others have done before you.”

Elizabeth Heritage is the Communications Lead at Creative Commons Aotearoa New Zealand.

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