Tohatoha releases poker-style card game to teach Creative Commons licensing

Just in time for Christmas, Tohatoha NZ has released a new educational card game that aims to teach players about Creative Commons licensing in a fun and engaging way.

Designed by New Zealander Cam Findlay – open-source software and open data advocate, and Product Manager for the NZ Government’s open data service – the game is loosely based around the well-known Texas Hold’Em style of poker.

Tohatoha’s new Creative Commons Release’Em Poker card game is now available.

Known as Creative Commons Release‘Em Poker, the game is played using a standard deck of cards, but with the suits replaced by the four Creative Commons license elements.

The objective of the game is to combine the license elements into a poker hand to create the most useful Creative Commons license for a given scenario. The game play proceeds like a usual game of Texas Hold’em Poker with players attempting to use higher valued cards to try and win the hand. The license that is both correct and of the highest value wins the hand. Throughout the game discussion about Creative Commons licensing occurs across the table which is where the learning takes place and is reinforced.

Mandy Henk, CEO of Tohatoha, says she is thrilled with the game as she has been looking for a tool to make Tohatoha’s workshops even more engaging for their audiences of mostly teachers, librarians, public servants, and museum staff.

“Teaching copyright licensing in a fun and memorable way is one of the biggest day-to-day challenges we face as promoters of Creative Commons as the licenses themselves – and how to best apply them to a created work – can be complex,” she says.

“However, we road-tested the Creative Commons Release ‘Em Poker game throughout our recent workshop tour of New Zealand and it had an overwhelmingly positive response from participants.”

Henk says the game itself is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (CC-BY-SA), which means users can share, adapt and build upon the material for any purpose, even commercially.

“Anyone is welcome to download the cards, design their own scenarios, and adapt the game for local needs,” says Henk.

Decks of cards with the CC licenses on them, along with a selection of paintings of New Zealand native birds in place of the face cards, are now available for purchase from Tohatoha for $10.00 per pack, including postage and packing. (Contact details for ordering are below.)

Rules for play and a set of scenarios are available on the Tohatoha web site, as well as GitHub.

Henk says Tohatoha will be holding a session in Auckland early in 2019 which will show participants both how to play the game as well as create their own set of scenarios to support localisation.

This session will also include a brief talk about the value of play and gamification in professional development workshops and the development and design of Creative Commons Release’Em Poker.

For more information on Tohatoha’s work in New Zealand, visit

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For more information, contact:
Brendan Boughen
Communications Manager, Tohatoha
Mobile: 027 839 6044


About Tohatoha

Tohatoha is a non-profit organisation that helps people share their copyright works for reuse by others. Sometimes creators and other copyright holders want the public to be able to reuse their works but are unable to allow reuse easily and legally given the works’ “All Rights Reserved” copyright status. Creative Commons licences enable copyright holders to allow reuse of their works by giving everyone a range of permissions in advance. Using a clear and robust Creative Commons licences, you can choose the kinds of permissions to grant over your work. Individuals, institutions, artists, scientists and public agencies around the world are now declaring “Some Rights Reserved” with Creative Commons licences. People who use Creative Commons licences are contributing to the Commons, that global pool of reusable works, and are helping to create a culture of sharing, reuse and innovation.

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