The Lumen Learning Attribution Architecture, v1.0

The Lumen Learning Attribution Architecture is a method for composing a single, comprehensive attribution statement (CAS) that appropriately attributes all elements within a page of an Open Course Framework. This statement goes at the bottom of the page so as not to draw attention to itself, because scattering individual attribution elements throughout a page might distract and confuse students (creating extraneous cognitive load) and negatively impact their learning.

Attribution Primitives for Different Types of Content

The LLAA builds up a comprehensive attribution statement (CAS) from several smaller attribution primitives (AP). Each individual attribution primitive corresponds to a type of content:

  1. Original content – Material that was either created specifically for the Open Course Framework (OCF) or material created previously that has never been published before (e.g., a faculty member’s lecture notes)
  2. CC licensed content – Materials previously released under a Creative Commons license
  3. Copyrighted video content – Materials from YouTube, Vimeo, and other sources whose Terms of Use allow embedding
  4. Public domain content – Materials no longer covered by copyright
  5. CC licensed content with specific attribution requirements

Attribution primitives should be listed in this order, with all type 1 attributions preceding all type 2 attributions, all type 2 attributions preceding all type 3 attributions, etc. The exception to this rule is attribution of original content created by Lumen Learning, which should always be listed last.

Assembling the Comprehensive Attribution Statement

Determining a Page’s CC License

The Comprehensive Attribution Statement (CAS) includes a statement about the particular CC license which governs the individual page. For a typical page, which is comprised mainly of text with a few additional elements like images or video, the page will use the same license as the text. For example, if the majority of content on a page was comprised of words from a CC BY-NC-SA licensed open textbook, the page’s license would be CC BY-NC-SA. Likewise, if the majority of content on a page was comprised of words from a CC BY-SA licensed open textbook, the page’s license would be CC BY-SA. As a matter of policy, if the majority of content on a page is original content, the page’s license is CC BY. Whichever license is selected as the page’s license is the LICENSE in the beginning statement described next.

Beginning Statement

The CAS begins with a horizontal rule and the statement: “This page is licensed under a LICENSE and contains content from a variety of sources published under a variety of open licenses, including:”. LICENSE must be linked to the appropriate license page and include the rel=”license” element. This statement is followed by a bulleted list that contains one attribution primitive (AP) for each page element in need of attribution.

Identifying Specific Page Elements for Attribution

When attributing a specific, discrete page element (like a YouTube video or an image), include a description of the element that allows people to identify it on the page, like “Photo of a red bird.” Additional examples are included in the description of the APs below.

Original Content AP

Original content should be attributed to individuals, institutions, and projects. Include as many of these elements as possible. The original content AP takes the form “Original content contributed by PERSON(s) of INSTITUTION(s) to PROJECT.” Examples of original content APs would be:

  • Original content contributed by Mr. Putey of the Anglo-French Silly Walk Initiative to the Ministry of Silly Walks National Archive.

CC Licensed Content AP

CC licensed content should be attributed to individuals, institutions, projects, and URLs. Include as many of these elements as possible. The CC licensed content AP must also include a statement of the content’s original license. The CC licensed content AP takes the form “Content created by PERSON(s) of INSTITUTION(s) for PROJECT, originally published at URL under a LICENSE license.” Example CC Licensed Content APs would be:

  • Content created by Edmund Blackadder for the History of English Dictionaries project, originally published at http://someurl456.org/ under a CC BY license.

Copyrighted Video Content AP

Copyrighted video content should be attributed to individuals, institutions, projects, and URLs. Include as many of these elements as possible. Always include a DESCRIPTION like “Video of waterfalls.” Always include a statement identifying the content as copyrighted and not openly licensed. Always include the Terms of Use that permit embedding of the copyrighted video. The Copyrighted Video Content AP takes the form “The video of DESCRIPTION was created by PERSON(s) of INSTITUTION(s) for PROJECT and published at URL. This video is copyrighted and is not licensed under an open license. Embedded as permitted by TERMS.” An example Copyrighted Video Content AP would be:

  • The video documentary of the Kennedy assassination was created by Dave Lister and published at http://youtube.com/linktovideo. This video is copyrighted and is not licensed under an open license. Embedded as permitted by YouTube’s Terms of Use.

Public Domain Content AP

Public domain content should be attributed to individuals or institutions, and a URL when possible. Take care to either choose either “created” or “published” as necessary. The Public Domain AP takes the form “Content created (or published) by PERSON(s) or INSTITUTION(s) (at URL).” Example Public Domain APs would be:

  • Content created by Henry Wensleydale.

CC Licensed Content with Specific Attribution Requirements

When CC licensed content includes specific instructions about how to attribute it, follow the CC Licensed Content AP and incorporate any specific instructions provided by the Licensor.

An Example Comprehensive Attribution Statement (CAS)


This page is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License and contains content from a variety of sources published under a variety of open licenses, including:

  • Original content contributed by Mr. Putey of the Anglo-French Silly Walk Initiative.
  • Content created by Edmund Blackadder for the History of English Dictionaries project, originally published at http://someurl456.org/ under a CC BY license.
  • The video documentary of the Kennedy assassination was created by Dave Lister and published at http://youtube.com/linktovideo. This video is copyrighted and is not licensed under an open license. Embedded as permitted by YouTube’s Terms of Use.
  • Content created by Henry Wensleydale.
  • Original content created by Lumen Learning.

Know what unifies the examples used throughout the LLAA? Let us know.