What is Open Licensing?

As new forms of publication and scholarship begin to take hold, the academic world is examining standard forms of licensing and rights management and finding them lacking. While current copyright and intellectual property laws focus on restricting use of materials, authors are beginning to explore new models that center on enabling use while still protecting the academic value of a publication. Some rights are still reserved, but some are proactively licensed at publication time to encourage re-use. These approaches make it clear which rights are licensed for various uses, removing the barrier of copyright and smoothing the way for others to access and use one’s work. One such approach is that taken by Creative Commons, an organization that supplies easy-to-understand, “some rights reserved” licenses for creative work. Authors simply review the list of rights they can grant or restrict, make their choice, and receive a link to a written license that spells out how their work may be used. The licenses work within current copyright laws but clearly state how a work may be used. Copyleft is another alternative license; often used in open source software development and describes how a work can be used and also governs how derivative works are to be licensed as well. Models like these are beginning to gain acceptance among artists, photographers, and musicians; scholarly papers and reports are increasingly released under alternative licenses. Some organizations, such as the New Media Consortium, have made it a policy to release all their work under licenses that facilitate sharing and reuse.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • What students and faculty can accomplish in their work is affected by which resources they have access to. When more content is freely available, more people can use those resources to inform their own work. In addition, when things like images from museums, photographs, etc. are licensed under some types of Creative Commons licenses, they can be re-used by students in creative ways - remixing, incorporating into other media, etc. - JoanLippincott JoanLippincott Oct 17, 2015
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(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • As I've stated in comments in previous Horizon Report activities, the term "open access" is used pervasively in the scholarly communications and publishing communities, not "open licensing." If you don't change the heading, you should at least incorporate the term "open access" into the description.- JoanLippincott JoanLippincott Oct 17, 2015
  • Some universities and colleges are developing journals that publish the products of student research and those are generally licensed under Creative Commons.- JoanLippincott JoanLippincott Oct 17, 2015

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on higher education?

  • Increased ability for students even in colleges that have less money to purchase content (by the library) to have access to a wide variety of scholarly information. - JoanLippincott JoanLippincott Oct 17, 2015
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(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

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