policy

CC Europe responds to review of EU copyright rules

John Weitzmann, March 6th, 2014

Yesterday the European CC Leads have under their regional identity CC Europe responded (PDF) to the ‘Public consultation on the review of the EU copyright rules’, run by the EU Commission through its Internal Market and Services Directorate. Like several other groups, the CC Leads have stressed the need for more robust and flexible exceptions and limitations throughout the region, especially regarding transformative uses in general and educational uses in particular. They also urge the EU Commission to find ways for copyright law in Europe to better recognize creator’s wishes to contribute to the ‘voluntary Public Domain’ through legal tools like CC0. They also highlighted once more the fact that CC Licenses are a patch for certain aspects of the copyright system but not a fix that substitutes legislative action. According to the Commission, all responses to the 80 question consultation will be published at some point in the future.

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Policy Projects at CC: Open Policy Network and Institute for Open Leadership

Timothy Vollmer, January 9th, 2014

Over the last year we’ve been working on developing two new projects: the Open Policy Network and the Institute for Open Leadership. Both of these initiatives arise out of a direct identified need from the Creative Commons community. Let’s explain a bit more about each of these projects.

OPN logo

Overview

Over the last several years, Creative Commons and related organizations have been contacted by multiple institutions and governments seeking assistance on how to implement open licensing and develop materials and strategies for open policies. By “open policies” we mean policies whereby publicly funded resources are developed and released as openly licensed resources. The $2 billion Department of Labor TAACCCT grant program would be considered an open policy. There is a pressing need to provide support to policymakers so they can successfully create, adopt, and implement open policies. And CC affiliates from around the world have asked for an informational hub where open policies could be shared and discussed.

The open community needs access to existing open policies, legislation, and action plans for how open policies were created, discussed and passed. Advocates need to know what barriers were encountered and how they were overcome, and because politics and opportunities are local, open advocates may need support customizing an open policy solution and strategy. This is why we need the Open Policy Network (OPN).

Mission

The mission of the Open Policy Network is to foster the creation, adoption and implementation of open policies and practices that advance the public good by supporting advocates, organizations, and policy makers with information and expertise, and connecting policy opportunities with those who can provide assistance.

Description of activities

The OPN supports the creation, adoption, and implementation of open policies around the world. We will engage in the following activities:

  • Connect policy makers and other interested parties to expert open policy advocates and organizations who are able to provide assistance and support when open policy opportunities arise.
  • Identify and build new open policy resources and/or services only where capacity and expertise does not currently exist, by providing needed resources, information, and advice.
  • Provide a baseline level of assistance for open policy opportunities as they arise, to ensure no open policy opportunity goes unfulfilled.
  • Link to, catalog and curate existing and new open policies and open policy resources from around the world.
  • Connect open policy advocates and organizations on a listserv and monthly phone conference to maximize knowledge transfer and cooperation.
  • Build new constituencies and advocates in support of open policies.
  • Operate in a manner respectful of member organizations’ existing messaging, communities, and business models.
  • Release all content produced under the project under CC BY and data under CC0, in a fully transparent manner on the project website.

Guiding principles

We believe:

Join this project!

For the time being, the Open Policy Network is being led by Creative Commons, but we envision that the coordination of the Network can be transferred to another group after some time. We are looking for interested individuals and groups to join the network, and we’ll begin monthly organizing conference calls soon. You can sign up to the Google group now.

IOL logo

Background

The Open Policy Network is committed to facilitating adoption of open policies around the world by improving access to resources and expertise for advocates of open policies. Creative Commons will begin to host an Institute for Open Leadership (IOL) to train new leaders in education, science, and public policy fields on the values and implementation of openness in licensing, policies, and practices. The Institute will be a tangible project under the umbrella of the OPN.

The Institute for Open Leadership will select twenty applicants per year–through a competitive application process–to participate in an intensive weeklong training session with leading experts in open fields. Each participant will develop an outcomes-based plan for a capstone open project, and report on progress within one year. Through training and the project period, participants will develop the skills, relationships, and motivation to become leaders for openness in their institutions and fields. The Institute complements and strengthens the OPN’s mission, and generates open policy projects by training a new corps of leaders ready to inculcate open policies and practices in their institutions and across their professional communities. We will initially run two cohorts of the Institute (2 years), though the goal is to make the Institute an annual event.

Problem meant to solve

There is significant and growing demand for leaders to support open initiatives in educational, cultural, and scientific institutions, as well as governmental agencies. At the organizational level, our capacity to meet this demand is limited. Yet we believe that there is strong potential to transfer and scale leadership experience to new champions for openness, and to systematically cultivate a broad network of leaders to meet the increasing demand. There is also significant interest among discretionary institutional funding programs (such as publicly funded national and state/provincial grants) to learn about and adopt CC licenses. A new and broader group of leaders could address this interest by reaching and educating institutions and professional communities about copyright and the benefits of open licensing and open policies.

As open movements approach mainstream status, there is a vastly increased need for more leaders who share the values of open licensing, the understanding of openness best practices (e.g. open technical formats, modular design, and accessibility standards), and the desire to guide some portion of this ecosystem. The IOL will relieve the strain on existing leaders and resources by recruiting and training a new group of experts who can meet the demand for expertise on open licensing, pursue new opportunities for publishing and using open content, and directly influencing policy decisions in institutions and across fields of work.

Activities

Application and selection process
Creative Commons will solicit applications from interested persons around the world to participate in the Institute. We will select a maximum of twenty participants each year for two years. We plan to target persons who are mid-level managers and/or potential leaders who are not currently involved in the open movement, but who are moving toward leadership positions in their institutions or fields of work over the next 5-10 years. The selection criteria will include an evaluation of which candidates the committee estimates will have the highest impact when they return to their home institution/government. All applicants will be required to propose a capstone open project they will complete after attending the IOL. These projects must be properly scoped and must contain a strong open policy component and contribute to increasing openness within their institution and field.

Prerequisites
Once selected, participants will be required, prior to attending, to complete any two online School of Open courses (e.g., copyright and open licensing, open education, open science, etc.).

Immersive training period
The IOL will be held at an appropriate conference facility or university campus. All participants and instructors will stay in the same accommodations and spend the majority of time together, creating the potential for informal discussions and relationship building. Institute instructors will be drawn from the top experts/leaders in the fields of open access, open science, open educational resources, open culture, etc. Each day of the week-long workshop will feature a concentration on open licensing and policy in one of the fields and include time for participants to consult directly with the instructors on their own open project plans.

Capstone project work
By the end of the workshop week, participants will have polished and expanded their proposed capstone projects and have integrated open policy aspects more thoroughly based on their newly acquired expertise and the assistance of the instructors. The point of the capstone project is for the participant to transform the concepts learned at the Institute into a practical, actionable, and sustainable initiative within his/her institution. Capstone open projects can take a variety of forms depending on the interests of the participant and the type of institution where the project will be implemented. Common features of a successful capstone open project will be to:

  • Increase the amount of openly licensed materials in the commons;
  • Increase awareness among colleagues or related stakeholders about the benefits of openness;
  • Propose an open policy within the participants’ institution with an action plan to implement the open policy;
  • Demonstrate measurable results and complete report after 12 months that analyzes project progress, challenges, and sustainability.

An example of a successful capstone open project might be a librarian at a university that is able to foster an open access policy at their institution whereby university faculty agree to contribute publicly funded research into the university repository under open licenses.

Reporting
In addition to the written reports (shared under CC BY 4.0), there will also be a webinar scheduled 12 months after the Institute to share the outcomes of each participant’s project. All webinars will continue fostering the development of a new open leadership cohort.

Timeline

  • March-May 2014: Cohort #1 application period
  • July 2014: Cohort #1 week-long institute
  • November 2014-January 2015: Cohort #2 application period
  • March 2015: Cohort #2 week-long institute
  • July 2015: Cohort #1 12-month follow up webinar & open projects completed
  • March 2016: Cohort #2 12-month follow up webinar & open projects completed

We’re excited to get these two exciting initiatives up and running, and we look forward to working with many individuals and organizations to make them a success. Many thanks to the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the Open Society Foundations for funds to kickstart these projects!

Institution designed by Thibault Geffroy from the Noun Project, licensed CC BY.

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European Commission announces public consultation on the review of EU copyright rules

Paul Keller, December 11th, 2013

This post originally appears on the Communia Association blog. Creative Commons is a founding member and active participant in Communia.

Last week Thursday the European Commission launched its much anticipated public consultation on the review of the EU copyright rules. This consultation is the first visible sign of the second track of the Commission’s attempt to modernise the EU rules (the first track consisted of the rather unsuccessful Licenses for Europe stakeholder dialogue). In the words of the Commission the focus of the consultation is on:

… ensuring that the EU copyright regulatory framework stays fit for purpose in the digital environment to support creation and innovation, tap the full potential of the Single Market, foster growth and investment in our economy and promote cultural diversity.

With regards to the contents of the consultation, a first reading reveals a mixed bag of questions, with a surprising amount of them actually touching on issues that are closely related to our own policy recommendations. The consultation comes in the form of a 37 page document with a grand total of 80 questions that cover everything from the functioning of the single market for copyrighted works, linking and browsing, copyright term duration, registration of copyrighted works and exceptions and limitations for cultural heritage institutions, education, research, persons with disabilities and “user generated content”. In addition, there are questions about private copying and levies, the fair remuneration of authors and performers, respect for rights, and even the possibility of a single EU copyright title. Finally there is an open question for everything else that stakeholders might want to tell the Commission.

The deadline for providing answers to all of these questions is the 5th of February, which if one takes into account the upcoming holiday period is rather short. Read More…

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CC to European Commission: No restrictions on PSI re-use

Timothy Vollmer, November 25th, 2013

Creative Commons has responded to the European Commission’s consultation on recommended standard licenses, datasets and charging for the re-use of public sector information (PSI). See our response here. The Commission asked for comments on these issues in light of the adoption of the new Directive on re-use of public sector information. The Directive 1) brings libraries, museums, and archives under the scope of the Directive, 2) provides a positive re-use right to public documents, 3) limits acceptable charging to only marginal costs of reproduction, provision, and dissemination, and 4) reiterates the position that documents can be made available for re-use under open standards and using machine readable formats. CC recognizes the high value of PSI not only for innovation and transparency, but also for scientific, educational and cultural benefit for the entire society.

eu1

The Commission has not yet clarified what should be considered a “standard license” for re-use (Article 8). The dangers of license proliferation–which potentially leads to incompatible PSI–is still present. But it’s positive that the Commission is using this consultation to ask specific questions regarding legal aspects of re-use.

Part 3 of the questionnaire deals with licensing issues. One question asks what should be the default option for communicating re-use rights. We believe that there should be no conditions attached to the re-use of public sector information. The best case scenario would be for public sector information to be in the public domain, exempt from copyright protection altogether by amending national copyright laws. If it’s not possible to pass laws granting positive re-use rights to PSI without copyright attached, public sector bodies should use the CC0 Public Domain Dedication (CC0) to place public data into the worldwide public domain to ensure unrestricted re-use.

Another question first states that the Commission prefers the least restrictive re-use regime possible, and asks respondents to choose which condition(s) would be aligned with this goal. Again, we think that every condition would be deemed restrictive, since ideally PSI would be removed from the purview of copyright protection through law or complete dedication of the PSI to the public domain using CC0. If the Commission were to permit public sector bodies to incorporate limited conditions through licensing, then they should be expected to use standard public licenses aligned with the Open Definition (with a preference for “attribution only” licenses). A simple obligation to acknowledge the source of the data could be accomplished by adopting a liberal open license, like CC BY. Such a license would also cover other issues, such as acknowledging that an adaptation has been made or incorporating a waiver of liability. Some of the conditions listed would be detrimental to interoperability of PSI. An obligation not to distort the original meaning or message of public sector data should be deemed unacceptable. Such an obligation destroys compatibility with standard public licenses that uniformly do not contain such a condition. The UK’s Open Government License has already removed this problematic provision when it upgraded from OGL 1.0 to OGL 2.0.

In addition to mentioning CC licensing as a common solution, the questionnaire notes, “several Member States have developed national licenses for re-use of public sector data. In parallel, public sector bodies at all levels sometimes resort to homegrown licensing conditions.” In order to achieve the goals of the Directive and “to promote interoperable conditions for crossborder re-use,” the Commission should consider options that minimize incompatibilities between pools of PSI, which in turn maximize re-use. As far as we are concerned that means that governments should be actively discouraged from developing their own licenses. Instead, they should be encouraged to adopt standard public licenses aligned with the Open Definition. But even better would be to consider removing copyright protection for PSI by amending copyright law or waiving copyright and related rights using CC0.

Europe graphic designed by Monika Ciapala; Public Domain.

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Followup: NonCommercial and NoDerivatives discussion

Timothy Vollmer, October 24th, 2013

ncnd

It’s been a long time since we last wrote about the ongoing discussion of the NonCommercial and NoDerivatives licenses. Recall that last year CC heard suggestions that it should stop offering NC and ND licenses in future versions of our license suite because these licenses do not create a true commons of open content that everyone is free to use, redistribute, remix, and repurpose.

The CC community agreed to not make such a radical change as to stop offering the NC or ND licenses in the soon-to-be-released 4.0 licenses, or to spin off those licenses to another host organization. However, as promised, we have been working on several projects to help explain and clarify these issues to license users.

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Reflections on our OER policy workshop in Berlin

Timothy Vollmer, October 8th, 2013

This post was written by Alek Tarkowski and originally posted on the European OER Policy Project site.

A week ago, the European Commission launched the “Opening Up Education” initiative, a proposal for modernizing the European educational system. The proposal contains a strong “open” component. We’re using this opportunity to strengthen open educational policies in Europe, and we started our project with a workshop in mid-September. Below you can learn about the outcomes of our workshop, including an overview of the OER landscape in Europe, concept for a policy brief, and ideas for policy-related activities.

The workshop took place 14-15 October as part of the German “OERde13” conference. The workshop marked the public launch of CC’s collaborative „Open Educational Resources Policy in Europe” project. Eleven OER experts from all over Europe met for two days to discuss the state of OER policies in Europe and ways in which CC can increase their reach. Participants included Lisette Kalshoven (Kennisland, Netherlands), Eneli Sutt (HITSA, Estonia), Teresa Nobre (Creative Commons Portugal), Valentina Pavel (APTI, Romania), Hans de Four (KlasCement, Belgium), Bardhyl Jashari (Metamorphosis, Macedonia), Ignasi Labastida y Juan (Universitat de Barcelona, Catalonia / Spain), Ivan Matejic (Creative Commons Serbia), Kamil Śliwowski (Centrum Cyfrowe, Poland) and John Weitzmann (Creative Commons Germany). The workshop was led by Alek Tarkowski from Creative Commons Poland, open policy advisor to CC and lead of this project.

OER-Konferenz_Berlin_2013-6390
OER workshop participants. Photo: Raimond Spekking / WikiMedia Commons, CC BY-SA (Source)

State of open education in Europe

We started with a session presenting the state of OER developments in EU countries, focusing particularly on public policies for open education. The session gave a good overview of the range of approaches to increasing adoption of OER: public e-textbook programs running in Poland and Macedonia; OER repositories such as Belgian Klascement, Dutch Wikiwijs, and Norwegian NDLA; “1 on 1” computer in school schemes used as entry channels for open content in Portugal or Macedonia; bottom-up hubs for open education communities such as German ZUM Wiki and the OER Champions project initiated in Macedonia.

We discussed the broader context for such initiatives, including national educational strategies and the specific shape of legal regulations–in particular copyright exceptions and limitations for educational use. In general, while there are very few functioning national-level policies supporting open education, there are multiple OER projects being implemented with public funding. Some are directly branded as “open education” projects, while others apply this philosophy without naming it that way.

Similarly, there are multiple initiatives at the European level, often funded by the European Union, that fit within the scope of the new initiative. The Open Education Europa portal has been developed on the basis of a previous e-learning portal. At the same time, projects that deal with ICTs in schools, e-learning, or quality of education are not necessarily aligned with OER issues. This means there might still be low awareness among key potential stakeholders. At the same time, there remains a great potential for gaining ICT allies in support of open education policy.

What kind of open education policy?

We spent part of the workshop discussing the concept of CC’s policy brief for open education in Europe. The basic policy position, achieved through a quick consensus among participants, can be summed up very easily: A free license like CC BY or CC BY-SA + (open formats, WCAG accessibility standards and metadata) should be adopted for all publicly funded educational content. (In other words, of all the varied definitions, the Hewlett Foundation OER definition is our definition of choice – and we’re happy that the new Open Education Europa portal sets a high standard by adopting CC BY as a default).

So while the basic policy rule is simple, the challenge lies in providing the best arguments for its widespread adoption. The workshop participants discussed essential elements of a successful policy brief. These should include:

  • A grounding both in rights issues, in particular the right to education and right to knowledge, but also in broader pedagogical theories, such as connectivism;
  • Proof that open education works, especially in economic terms; everyone knows this is not easy, often due to lack of data, but basic arguments can be made, especially about cost savings for parents and schools;
  • Evidence of existing OER projects and their scale and usage, including those that are not directly framed as “open education”, but follow the general model.

Finally, a challenge that any European educational policy faces is the limited scope in which the EU deals with educational issues, which are largely left in the hands of national governments and schooling systems. Other than a new Directive (which would be binding for EU member states, but also difficult to introduce), the EU could introduce an open education policy model to apply to its own funding of educational content. It could also work with national governments by promoting good examples and following best practices and standards. A policy brief needs to address the interdependence of EU- and national-level governmental bodies.

How to promote open education policy?

Policy matters are often difficult to understand beyond a narrow circle of policymakers, experts and stakeholders. During the workshops we discussed ways of making them easier to understand. We focused on three projects, two of which we’d like to work on in the coming months.

Teresa Nobre presented the concept of a study of European exceptions and limitations for education. These are rules defined in national copyright laws that allow for legal use of copyrighted content without permission under certain conditions for educational purposes. These vary greatly between countries and between K-12 and higher education. This “balkanization” of law is one of the reasons that open education, based of course on open licensing, is such an important policy alternative. We were initially considering conducting the necessary legal comparison, but we found out during the workshop that this has already been done by Prof. Raquel Xalabarder of Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (see the WIPO-commissioned analysis). Therefore, our work will build on this analysis and in particular “translate” it into an explanation that will apply to practical issues faced by educators in order to demonstrate the real-life application of policy decisions.

Kamil Śliwowski talked about a mythbusting approach, focusing on finding counter arguments for current criticisms of open education. Kamil described experiences we’ve had in Poland debating commercial educational publishers, who have been vocal critics of open education policy. These publishers often recite arguments against OER that are not based on evidence–hence, “myths”. The mythbusting approach began last year with a presentation at the UNESCO OER Congress in Paris, and continued with a workshop at the CC Summit in Buenos Aires. As part of this project, Kamil will organize in early 2014 a sprint-type workshop during which we’ll produce an OER mythbusting publication.

Bardhyl Jashari presented the idea of open education champions, which his organization, Foundation Metamorphosis, has been implementing in Macedonia. According to Bardhyl, leaders are crucial in promoting open education policy, since these issues are often difficult to understand for many on-the-ground educators. Empowering education champions to explain these topics makes the policies easier to understand. We agreed that it is a great idea, and in line with the recently appointed European “Digital Champions.” But these education champions will be difficult to implement without the Commission’s support.

Next steps

We are now starting work on our policy brief and related analyses and documents, and we’ll focus on developing these over the next few months. For early 2014, we are planning several events, culminating during Open Education Week in March.

We’re all the time looking for partners, collaborators and allies. if you care about open educational policy and want to help, please get in touch.

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European Commission launches “Opening Up Education” initiative

Timothy Vollmer, September 25th, 2013

European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes and Commission Member Androulla Vassiliou today announced Opening Up Education, an initiative that looks to increase the use of digital technologies for learning and spur the development of Open Educational Resources and policies across the European Union.

The Opening Up Education communication (PDF) indicates a strong support for Open Educational Resources. On the subject of OER, the Commission will:

  • Ensure that all educational materials supported by Erasmus+ are available to the public under open licenses and promote similar practices under EU programmes;
  • Use the new programmes Erasmus+ and Horizon 2020 to encourage partnerships between creators of educational content (e.g. teachers, publishers, ICT companies), to increase the supply of quality OER and other digital educational materials in different languages, to develop new business models and to develop technical solutions which provide
    transparent information on copyrights and open licenses to users of digital educational resources;
  • Launch with this Communication the Open Education Europa portal linking it to existing OER repositories in different languages and bringing learners, teachers and researchers together, so to improve the attractiveness and visibility of quality OERs produced in the EU.

The communication also urged Member States and education institutions to:

  • Stimulate open access policies for publicly-funded educational materials;
  • Encourage formal education and training institutions to include digital content, including OERs, among the recommended educational materials for learners at all educational levels and encourage the production, including through public procurement, of high-quality educational materials whose copyrights would belong to public authorities.

portal small

Kroes and Vassiliou also introduced Open Education Europa, a portal for high quality OER available in a variety of languages. The default licensing for the resources in the portal is CC BY.

The communication document defined OER as “learning resources that are usable, adaptable to specific learning needs, and shareable freely.” We think that it would be better for the Commission to adopt the longstanding and well-understood OER definition promoted by the Hewlett Foundation, which defines OER as “teaching, learning, and research materials in any medium that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others.”

Creative Commons provided feedback last year when the Commission was gathering information from stakeholders on how to proceed around the issues of ICT and OER. Congratulations to the EC on what looks like a promising initiative that will increase access to and reuse of open educational resources and technologies for a wide range of learners in Europe.

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Public Access to Publicly Funded Materials: What Could Be

Billy Meinke, September 25th, 2013

This blog post was written by Teresa Sempere García, CC’s Community Support Intern June-August, 2013. The cycle graphics below were designed by Timothy Vollmer and Teresa Sempere García.

The current system for public access to research articles and educational materials is broken: ownership is often unclear, and the reuse of knowledge is limited by policies that do not maximize the impact of public funding. The following graphics will try to simplify and compare two alternative funding cycles for research publications and educational resources that emphasize the positive impacts of open policies on publicly-funded grants. More information and links to a current directory of current and proposed OER open policies can be found in the OER Policy Registry on the Creative Commons Wiki.

Cycles for Research Articles

The existing system for producing and distributing publicly funded research articles is expensive and doesn’t take advantage of the possibilities of innovations like open licensing. Without a free-flowing system, access to the results of scientific research is limited to institutions that are able to commit to hefty journal subscriptions — paid for year after year — which don’t allow for broad redistribution, or repurposing for activities such as text and data mining without additional permissions from the rightsholder. This closed system limits the impact on the scientific and scholarly community and progress is slowed significantly.

A Closed Research Model

closed funding cycle for research

When funding cycles for research include open license requirements for publications, increased access and opportunities for reuse extends the value of research funding. As an example, the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) Public Access Policy requires the published results of all NIH-funded research to be deposited in PubMed Central’s repository, the peer-reviewed manuscript immediately, and the final journal article within twelve months of publication. Similarly, the recent directive issued by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy mandates that federal agencies with more than $100 million in research expenditures must make the results of their research publicly available within one year of publication, and better manage the resultant data supporting their results. These policies utilize aspects of the optimized cycle below, and are a step in the right direction for making better use of public funding for research articles.

An Open Research Model

optimised funding cycle for research

Cycles for Educational Resources

The incumbent system for developing and sharing publicly funded educational resources doesn’t guarantee materials are accessible and reusable by the public that paid for their creation.

A Closed Education Model

closed funding cycle for educational resources

If policies are put in place that mandate open licenses on publicly funded educational resources, knowledge can flow more freely because the public is clear about how they may reuse educational content, and the funders can realize a more impactful return on their investments. An example of better use of public funding for the production of educational resources, the US DOL TAACCCT Program mandates that all content created or modified using grant funds are openly-licensed (CC BY) and deposited in a public repository upon completion of the project. Being conducted in four waves, the TAACCCT program is making better use of a large (US$2 billion) investment of US taxpayer money by ensuring the public will have access the educational resources created during the four-year term, and is able to reuse and adapt them beyond what automatic copyright allows. The following graphic demonstrates an open funding model, with licensing and access recommendations to remove barriers to sharing and help speed access and reuse of publicly funded educational content.

An Open Education Model

optimised funding cycle for educational resources

Summary

Open policy — specifically, the idea that publicly funded materials should be openly licensed materials — is a sensible solution that ensures the public’s right to reuse the materials it paid for, and improves the efficiency of government grant funding. Open licensing is a sensible requirement for publicly funded grant programs.

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University of California adopts system-wide open access policy

Timothy Vollmer, August 2nd, 2013

Today the University of California (UC) Academic Senate announced the adoption of a system-wide open access policy for future research articles generated by UC faculty. The articles will be made publicly available for free via UC’s eScholarship repository.

According to the press release, the University of California open access policy will cover 8,000 faculty who author approximately 40,000 articles each year. From the UC statement:

By granting a license to the University of California prior to any contractual arrangement with publishers, faculty members can now make their research widely and publicly available, re-use it for various purposes, or modify it for future research publications. Previously, publishers had sole control of the distribution of these articles.

It appears that authors will have the option of depositing their articles under open licenses, such as Creative Commons licenses. The FAQ says,

Uses of the article are governed by the copyright license under which it is distributed, and faculty authors choose which license to use at the point of deposit. Faculty members may choose to restrict commercial re-use by choosing a Creative Commons license with a “Non Commercial” (NC) restriction when they deposit their article; or they may choose to allow it by choosing a license like the “Attribution only” license (CC BY). If no license is specified, a non-commercial license will be used by default.

Faculty are also able to opt-out of the policy on a per-article basis, which may limit the effectiveness of the policy overall if opt-outs become commonplace.

The UC policy builds on existing open access policies in California, such as the one at UCSF. Here’s a link the full text of the policy. Congratulations to UC for passing this policy, and we hope that faculty will embrace sharing research articles under open licenses.

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Deciphering licensing in Project Open Data

Timothy Vollmer, May 20th, 2013

Two weeks ago we wrote about the U.S. Executive Order and announcement of Project Open Data, an open source project (managed on Github) that lays out the implementation details behind behind the President’s Executive Order and memo. The project offers more information on open licenses, and gives examples of acceptable licenses for U.S. federal data. Some of this information is clear, while other pieces require more clarification. Below we’ve provided some commentary and notes on the licensing parts of Project Open Data.

Open Licenses

The Open Licenses page on Project Open Data says that a license will be considered “open” if the following conditions are met:

Reuse. The license must allow for reproductions, modifications and derivative works and permit their distribution under the terms of the original work.

Users can copy and make adaptations of the data. The government may use a copyleft license, thus requiring that adapted works be shared under the same license as the original. In our view, the reference to the government using a license is confusing. Works created by federal government employees in the in the public domain, and a license is not appropriate–at least as a matter of U.S. copyright law. More on this below.

The rights attached to the work must not depend on the work being part of a particular package. If the work is extracted from that package and used or distributed within the terms of the work’s license, all parties to whom the work is redistributed should have the same rights as those that are granted in conjunction with the original package.

Everyone is offered the work under the same public license.

Redistribution. The license shall not restrict any party from selling or giving away the work either on its own or as part of a package made from works from many different sources.

Third parties can sell the data verbatim or produce adaptations of the data and sell those.

The license shall not require a royalty or other fee for such sale or distribution.

Users don’t have to pay to use the licensed data.

The license may require as a condition for the work being distributed in modified form that the resulting work carry a different name or version number from the original work.

When the data gets remixed the licensor can require that the remixer note that their remixed version is different from the original.

The rights attached to the work must apply to all to whom it is redistributed without the need for execution of an additional license by those parties.

Public licenses must be used, which means that everyone gets offered the data under the same terms, without the need to negotiation individual licenses.

The license must not place restrictions on other works that are distributed along with the licensed work. For example, the license must not insist that all other works distributed on the same medium are open.

The license doesn’t infect other data or content that is distributed alongside the openly licensed data. It’s important that the open data is marked as such; the same goes for marking of the the non-open data.

If adaptations of the work are made publicly available, these must be under the same license terms as the original work.

This is a confusing statement, because it seems to require that all data be licensed under a copyleft license. This does not align with the licensing options listed in the Open License Examples page.

No Discrimination against Persons, Groups, or Fields of Endeavor. The license must not discriminate against any person or group of persons. The license must not restrict anyone from making use of the work in a specific field of endeavor. For example, it may not restrict the work from being used in a business, or from being used for research.

Anyone may use the licensed data for any reason.

Open License Examples

The Open License Examples page offers a helpful guide as to which open licenses will be accepted for government data released by federal agencies. As we noted in our earlier post, there is some confusion in that the Open Data Policy Memo says, “open data are made available under an open license that places no restrictions on their use.” Saying that data should be placed under a license with no restrictions doesn’t make sense, since even a very “open” license (such as CC BY) requires attribution to the author a condition on using the license. If the United States truly wishes to make federal government data available without restriction, it could consider mandating only those tools that accomplish this, for example the CC0 Public Domain Dedication or the Open Data Commons Public Domain Dedication and License.

Data and content created by government employees within the scope of their employment are not subject to domestic copyright protection under 17 U.S.C. § 105.

The fact that data and content created by federal government employees is not subject to copyright protection in the United States is a longstanding positive feature of the US code. But as noted here, this copyright-free zone only applies when talking about domestic protection, e.g. inside the United States. Outside its borders, the United States government could assert that, for example, one of its works is protected under French copyright law, and then enforce its copyright in France. It’s unclear how much this legal nuance is leveraged outside of the United States. But it does seem to create a challenge for the U.S. federal agencies in utilizing public domain dedication tools like CC0. This is because CC0 puts content into the worldwide public domain, whereas under Section 105 works created by federal government employees are only in the public domain in the United States. So, while it’s useful that works created by U.S. federal government employees is in the public domain in the United States, it’s a shame that this seems to preclude federal agencies from utilizing public domain tools like CC0, which would help communicate broad reuse rights easily and in machine-readable form. This begs the larger question, if information created by federal government employees is in the public domain in the United States, then is it inappropriate to license this data and content under one of the licenses noted below? And, if that is true, then what content will be licensed under the conformant licenses? Third party content?

When purchasing data or content from third-party vendors, however care must be taken to ensure the information is not hindered by a restrictive, non-open license. In general, such licenses should comply with the open knowledge definition of an open license. Several examples of common open licenses are listed below:

Content Licenses:

  • Creative Commons BY, BY-SA, or CC0
  • GNU Free Documentation License

Data Licenses

  • Open Data Commons Public Domain Dedication and Licence (PDDL)
  • Open Data Commons Attribution License
  • Open Data Commons Open Database License (ODbL)
  • Creative Commons CC0

Notwithstanding the questions above about licensing options for the work produced by federal government employees, the Administration is taking a great step in recommending that licenses should align with the Open Definition. In addition, the Administration might include information about appropriate software licenses, should those come into play when they release data.

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