Module 3: Open License

Module 3: Open License

In the previous module we learned that open educational resources (OER) are educational materials that

  • have been released under an open license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others or,
  • reside in the public domain

In this module, we will discuss the types of open licenses and how to apply them.

What is an open license?

A license is a document that specifies what can and cannot be done with a work. It grants permissions and states restrictions. Broadly speaking, an open license is one that grants permission to access, re-use and redistribute a work with few or no restrictions (definition from Openedefinition.org).

Please see the diagram below to see the difference between all rights reserved copyrights and open license.

Open License All Rights Reserved Copyright
Copyright ownership retained. Copyright ownership retained.
Author grants rights in advance. Author does NOT grant rights to the public.
“It is mine but I do allow you to take my material. No need to ask for my permission to use it because it is already granted -just be sure to make proper attribution to me.” “It is mine. I do NOT allow you to take this material and repurpose it. You definitely need to ask for my permission to use it.”

There are many open licenses developed for different areas of knowledge. However, when it comes to open educational resources the most typical and common open licenses used are Creative Commons Licenses.

A bit of background. You have probably heard of an open source license, a type of license for computer software that allows source code to be used, modified and shared under defined terms. The free software movement was launched in 1983. Since then the folks in the computer software world have been widely developing and sharing open source code with a clear licensing system. Additionally, other open licenses in computer-related areas have been developed, such as open database licenses and open game licenses.

But what about the rest of the knowledge materials that are not software related?

In 2001, inspired by the open source license movement, a group of experts comprised of educators, technologists, legal scholars, investors, entrepreneurs and philanthropists gathered together to come up with a set of copyright licenses that would allow creators to easily share materials that were not software code, such as blogs, photos, films, books, etc.

They founded a nonprofit organization called Creative Commons and developed the first set of open licenses in 2002. These Creative Commons licenses brought clarity and ease to sharing materials online.

In summary, there are many open licenses developed for different areas of knowledge (please see the diagram below). Creative Commons licenses are mostly widely used copyright licenses that would allow creators to easily share materials that were not software code, such as blogs, photos, films, books, etc.

Other open licenses include:

  • Open Hardware Licenses
  • Open Source Software Licenses
  • Open Game Licenses
  • Open Database Licenses

We will discuss Creative Commons more specifically in Module 4.

 

 

Last updated: 03 07 2016