Open Content ioe12

Again, these are my notes from the course topic video


All this content is attributed to David Wiley.

David starts with the 10 year anniversary of Open Content.

It all started with Free Software (which was covered in the previous topic). It started out with Richard Stallman and the GPL that allowed free (liberty, freedom) reuse of software. Freedom was very important to Richard. In winter 1998 Eric Raymond became involved. He said that ‘free’ was confusing to business, and so developed the concept of Open Source. This focused on why openness and peer review was good.

At the same time David was working and thinking that digital content was really magic because it’s non-rivalrous, because it can be used simultaneously by multiple people without detriment to any. This, he thought, had implications for education. Library books are rivalrous (only one person can use a particular copy at one time), electronic versions of text are not. Digital content could drive down costs and improve access to education. So David went on to work on this concept of making educational content in a way that it could be shared and accessed with others who needed to use and change it for their requirements. That’s when David made the connection between Open Source and doing the same for content. There should be a comparable licence for materials doing the same as the GPL does for software.

David emailed Richard Stallman and Eric Raymond and they asked questions of him about what it would be called (‘free’ or ‘open’) and what it would cover (education, culture, content, stuff ?). So in June 1998 David decided on Open Content. It would cover a whole bunch of stuff. The preliminary licence was called The OpenContent Principles / License (OP/L). There was some success in the uptake of the licence, but very little uptake in education. This required talking to publishers. David was talking to Eric, who was talking to the publisher Tim O’Reilly and the question was asked, “Will you publish something that is openly licensed?”, which lead to a discussion about what publishers might want. Publishers would have to have protection from undercutting, due to costs and work involved. What did authors want? ‘Open Content isn’t really like Open Software.’ Some authors wanted recognition and some wanted to protect the integrity of their work; they were willing to share as long as no changes were made to it.

So in summer 1999, the Open Publication License was published; allowing download, sharing and redistribution. It required attribution to be given to the original author. It came with two options:

Option A) To prevent distribution of substantively modified versions without the explicit permission of the author(s)

[Effectively a derivative works clause]

Option B) To prohibit any publication of this work or derivative works in whole or in part in standard (book) form for commercial purposes unless prior permission is obtained from the copyright holder.

[Effectively the undercutting (no commercial) clause]

This saw much more uptake of this licence.

There were a number of problem. Both licences were abbreviated to OPL. They were both referred to as ‘that open content licence’, so again there was confusion. Also the naming of the Options A) & B) didn’t tell you anything about the content of the option. Additionally a link at the bottom of a page of content that took you off to the Open Content License page didn’t tell you if either of the Options had been implemented for the work or not.

This was a “good idea, but poorly executed”.

Then along came Larry Lessig (and the group that he worked with) and in December 2002 Creative Commons License 1.0 was born. The options were specifically names, e.g. non commercial, no derivatives, etc. and there wasn’t just one licence but each combination of options created a separate licence, with descriptive names, e.g. CC By, CC By-NC-ND.

There was still a button problem, because it didn’t make clear which licence it was. This was fixed later in time.

In the CC 2.0 version, attribution (By) became mandatory.

At the end of the video, David asks “So where are we now, 10 years on?”, and goes on to give a run down of examples from major sites and online services where there are hundreds of thousands of individual content elements made available under Open Content Licences.

In Education, UNESCO convenes a meeting and discusses Open Educational Resources. There’s the Open Courseware Consortium. There are hundreds of university level textbooks openly available. And the Cape Town Open Education Declaration.

And looking forward, “Where are we going?”

There are still problems. Licence compatibility; ‘which material from one licence can be mixed with material from which other licences’. Without the Public Domain there is 28% compatibility of CC Licences. (Refer to the card game from the Open Licensing course topic). David states that whichever Copy Left licence you pick, you can’t mix it with the majority of other available Copy Left licences.

Also there is some confusion/concern over the noncommercial clause. At the time 76% of Flickr content licenced as CC contained a noncommercial (NC) clause.

CC+ and CC0 will become more important.

David then goes on to outline a couple of areas of personal involvement for him.

  • Flatworld Knowledge textbooks is a new publishing models.
  • Open High School of Utah, which is a new free online schooling model. Interestingly the model allows for an iterative cyclic correction of the curriculum.

Drawing on the other course topic reading(s):

“Open content” … is content that is licensed in a manner that provides users with the right to make more kinds of uses than those normally permitted under the law – at no cost to the user.

The primary permissions or usage rights open content is concerned with are expressed in the “4Rs Framework:”

  1. Reuse – the right to reuse the content in its unaltered / verbatim form (e.g., make a backup copy of the content)
  2. Revise – the right to adapt, adjust, modify, or alter the content itself (e.g., translate the content into another language)
  3. Remix – the right to combine the original or revised content with other content to create something new (e.g., incorporate the content into a mashup)
  4. Redistribute – the right to share copies of the original content, your revisions, or your remixes with others (e.g., give a copy of the content to a friend)

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