I brake for copyleft

I notice I didn’t add this onto my site when I started it, but I meant to: I’m an advocate of sharing, and pretty sure I am a copyleftist (though I appreciate the intention of copyright as it started out), so I’m choosing to license all my art, text, and films from this site through Creative Commons.

I’ve picked this license: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike, or CC BY-NC-SA. It lets anyone know that my work can be ripped, remixed, and reused as long as I am given credit for being the creator, it’s not used to create commercial products for sale, and that whatever is made with my original work, no matter how it changes, is licensed in the same way, so the work here that is “born” open, stays open.  See the Creative Commons site for information about this license (or any other licenses you might be curious about).

I would love to be commissioned to paint an abstract industrial landscape on the wall of a building for a million dollars, but I’m just not interested in pursuing that work. I love teaching and writing and working with my colleagues on projects that vary from OER to collaborative teaching/learning in two states at two different institutions. I like being employed by a university that supports my scholarly, teacherly, and writerly endeavors. I think that very employment is a contract in which I create for the world and the betterment of my students, anything and everything, and in return I am paid to teach, administer, create, write, think, and share.

If I am in the business of creating knowledge or thinking of things to do to help others create knowledge, and I hold all that in a death grip keeping it all to myself or for those few who can pay, what’s the point? Don’t misunderstand me. My original art work is always for sale. So is my knowledge, to an extent (I will consult when the project is right), but I wouldn’t sell anything to students, nor to teachers, or to other artists–they get it for free, if they will promise to share with others in turn. And I mean by student, anyone who wants to learn, and by teacher, anyone who wants to create or share, and by artist, anyone who wants to create.

When you take from the commons, you should give back to the commons. I learned that from Steven Weber’s The Success of Open Source (2004), and a few other places, and from my work with Writing Spaces, too. I get the “gift economy” as some call it. I always have loved giving gifts. It’s what we’re here for, right? Could there be any other purpose? I mean, it’s not possible that we’re here just because we’re each so amazing, wonderful, incredible just by ourselves? Who lives in a vacuum? And who doesn’t love John Donne, by the way? He’s so apropos for the open movement:

“[A]ll mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated…. No man is an island,  entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were;  any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee” (Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions, “Meditation XVII“).

Perhaps the gift economy isn’t realistic for everything in the world, just perhaps, but I think higher education would be wise to pay close attention to the way open evolves in the next few years. There’s a movement afoot. We’re in the middle of a velvet revolution. And I like it. I don’t understand everything about the open movement yet, and may never, but I know one thing: I like it. A lot. The whole deal of being together rocks–we are all one volume–including Hemingway. I know what Donne means, and I value him for his convictions to his belief system, but don’t feel that an application of his thinking to this movement is wrong at all, nor do I think he would be displeased by my appropriation here. He might even think there was hope for me yet.

So be careful if you’re driving behind me, I brake for copyleft, and I mean it.

Creative Commons license for the blog, "E.D. Woodworth Writes."

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