Giving credit to content contributors?

Hello all! I want to hear your experiences with using content in your e-learning that was provided to you by a 3rd party.

For example, you're building a lesson on how to obtain a business loan, and a banker from ABC bank creates a checklist that you can include as a downloadable item. My questions:

1) Would you format the checklist to look like all of your other checklists you have created in the past (colors, fonts, images, etc.)? Assume the program was multiple lessons for which you have already created your own downloadable content.

2) Would you leave the banker's logo on the document? Or would that confuse the learner since your own logo shows up throughout the course?

3) Would you just give them small credits at the bottom? If yes, how? (e.g. Content was created by John Smith of ABC bank in Chicago, IL)?

4) Do you need some sort of form signed by the banker saying that he agrees for you to use this content and releases any future benefit?

I'm just trying to look for best practices around this matter.

Thank you!

2 Replies
Judy Nollet

Caveat: I'm not a lawyer, so this shouldn't be considered legal advice. That said, here are some suggestions based on my understanding of copyright laws.

Let's start with your number 4, because that's the one with potential legal consequences. If you plan to copy the checklist content from the banker, you should get a signed release giving you nonexclusive rights to reproduce the checklist without providing any compensation to the banker. The "nonexclusive" part means the banker could use the checklist and/or share it with others; I think that's only fair, and it shows you're not trying to take advantage of the banker.

Note that copyright applies to the given expression of ideas, i.e., how something is said or shown. No one can copyright facts. Thus, if you re-wrote and possibly re-arranged the items on the checklist, that would be a different expression about how to obtain a business loan. In that case, you wouldn't need a release.

From an ethical standpoint, I recommend giving the banker credit, even if you re-write the checklist.  

As to presenting the checklist, I think you should definitely delete the banker's logo. Otherwise, it might appear that the bank is somehow endorsing your course, which could lead to a different legal issue. So go ahead and make that checklist look like others in the course.

I suggest you discuss with the banker how they want their credit to appear. It may be acceptable to phrase the credit like the example in your third point. However, the banker may prefer to not have the bank's name listed and/or may want a disclaimer included indicating that the bank itself has no involvement/responsibility/liability in your project. Or, they may go in the other direction and request that you include a link to the bank's site. If their help was valuable, that's a small price to pay.

I hope this helps!