I teach a course where my teaching materials are a combination of 1: original material, 2: material from colleagues, and 3: material provided by the textbook. My colleagues have given me permission to use their material with no requirement for attribution, so I tell my students this in class, but do not have any written statements attributing this material. I do this primarily to avoid adding more information to an already long syllabus.

The material provided by the textbook includes lecture slides (licensed under GPLv3) and problem sets/exercises (licensed under GPLv2). This material is provided in the form of .Rnw files and data that allow R to produce PDF lecture slides and problem sets. My understanding of GPL is that if I were to distribute my .Rnw files, I would need to license them under GPLv3 and credit the original author of the teaching materials.

However, I'm sure not what I should be doing in a teaching context. GPL was designed for software, and while this material is code, the students never see any of the code. They only receive the PDF files produced by it. Should I add a footnote on the syllabus about the origin of some of the material in the course? It feels weird to upload a license file to the course site, and I'm worried doing so may confuse students. I'm assuming GPL requires some form of attribution in this context, but I really have no idea what the correct choice is here.

  • Yes, the GPL requires that you mark the material using the license. But for teaching materials, one of the Creative Commons licenses is probably better suited. – Wolfgang Bangerth Jul 5 '19 at 20:25
  • I agree that CC makes more sense, but I'm stuck as the materials I adapted came under GPL. A good lesson for when I share wholly original teaching materials, though. – jayrobwilliams Jul 6 '19 at 16:44

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