Inspiration and leveraging creative examples from Guru Awards

May 02, 2011

We had a question today from a blog reader who wanted to know more about using ideas and techniques they liked in the Guru Award courses.

Specifically, the concern was around visual plagiarism and how much--or little--they could use from the Guru showcase courses.

I thought Kevin's course and WOM blog post were good examples of inspiration leading to originality. In his post he mentions several people who inspired his final course. But even with that inspiration, he produced something creatively original.

So what do you think?

What kinds of advice or guidelines do you follow when searching for inspiration? What's fair game? What would "crossing the line" look like? Or can a line be crossed?

1 Reply
Sammy Hwang

Hello David,

You raise a very good question that we all need to think about. The reason why this question is crucial to e-learning developers is that if we expand this question, we will soon recognize that the issue is also closely related to copyright law and educational fair use.

In general, it is a very gray area and even copyright lawyers cannot give you  a direct answer (unless you become his or her customers!). Also, they tend to take a side of a big corporation and they simply would say if you are not sure about something, then just don't do it. (I know this because my friend's husband is a lawyer who has to deal with Intellectual property issues). That is why we need to educate ourselves to get familiar with copyright and educational fair use.

If the work is transformative as in Kevin's case, it is definitely considered as a fair use. Moreover, he shared all the resources of his inspiration. I would say this is the very good example of using the available other resources, other people's work and idea.

Then, as a person who wants to create something similar to Kevin's, what should I do? I will contact him and get permission first. Give him a full credit in the resource section. Try to come up with a better work (transformative) rather than to become a copycat. Try to rely on your own original idea once you reach a certain level. Although your work is automatically considered as copyrighted materials under the current law, consider creative common.

   Just in case, someone who does not know creative common and Larry lessig, the founder of creative common, watch the following clip. (I became very interested in this issue because of his book 'Code' and this video. He is one of the best presenters I have ever seen.)

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