I understand that the following article is written in a very personal way. But this thing seems to me so unjust that it is just unbelievable. So this is my sad story of me trying to bring free educational resources to the world and having Microsoft indirectly not allowing me to do so :( The following article is dedicated to Aaron Swartz:


Copyright is f*** up on this planet.

We have been creating almost all of our so far 69 produced videos by ourselves. The videos which which we did not produce ourselves have been published under a creative commons by licence by the copyright owners. In one case I even called a professor in the united states and asked him to change the licence of his videos on Youtube such that we could reuse them within the Wikimedia commons ecosystem which he did (:

So you might think everything is alright. The guys paid attention to proper licences if they used material by others and for the rest they created everything themselves. Unfortunately this is not true.

For some of our Flipped classroom sessions we created hangouts on air with screen casts of our Smartbord. Currently our university only supportes the smartboard software SMARTNotebook on Microsoft Windows. Creating a Screencast on a Microsoft operating system is critical since there is the Microsoft Start button visible and also the user interface of SMARTNotebook. At least the microsoft interfaces are protected under copyright and I belief similar constraints will hold for SMARTNotebook. This has the consequence that we cannot put a creative commons licence to these materials. Consequently we must not host the materials on Wikimedia Commons as wikimedia commons supports only free content.

What we can do now is to move the videos to Wikiversity which allows material with a fair use licence. Ok great I can still host my course but parts of it are not free anymore. Don’t be afraid you don’t have to pay, like you have to at other sites. But you loose a lot of your freedom. You cannot remix, correct, translate, [...] the videos. In particular I am not even sure if I am legally allowed to publish the videos under the terms of Fair Use. I am not an American citizen and my university clearly is a German institution. The Fair Use law is an United States law. Ok we are hosting the materials on an American Website but will this be sufficient? Last time I had a similar law problem and asked the law consultants from our university the only answer I received was: “Better take the material down. You don’t want to end up in a law fight”. Ok so not only we have absurd laws influenced from money making industries, we are also scared of the industries.

On the other side being forced to move to Fair Use licence will allow me to include a lot of creative commons materials where the NC tag is placed to the licence. Not that I now don’t want to do any open educational resources. But the quality of the MOOC also suffered from not being able to include CC-NC material. 

Think about this again:

We as a university – and in the very end as a society, since the university is payed by tax money – pay high licence fees to Microsoft in order to be allowed to use their crappy Software. We are then forced by the administration that if we want to use modern technology like smartboards we have to use Microsoft Software. We pay high wages for professors, me and technical staff to create an free and open online course. And now Microsoft – which I did not even choose to use  but was forced to use by our university which is just following the the majority vote of computer users – is telling me that I cannot publish the content I  created under the license that I want.

You might say: Hey guy calm down. What’s the problem? The course is still online and nothing has changed. But that is the problem that everything has changed. We don’t pay attention to the subtleties as a society and wonder why we are having unjust laws.


We need to think about our law. It is us who makes them anyway! Regional laws are conflicting with the idea of a global network (Fair Use for example). Many ideas of copyright are just not suitable to a tech driven world in which sharing, citing and giving attribution and fame to people who create something has been fundamentally changed. These laws like the ones mentioned are just outdated an ridiculous. Also other laws like https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Depublizieren (sorry for a link to German wikipedia. I might translate the article at some point in time) fall into this category.

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1 Comment on Copyright violations: Videos from our OER Web Science MOOC deleted from Wikimedia commons

  1. [...] a screencast during lecture on a Windows machine means committing a copyright violation since the the start button and the windows interface by Microsoft EULA are protected by copyright. Also in former discussions at #OER13de we agreed that it is hard to collaboratively edit videos [...]

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