This is sound public policy; taxpayers should have free and legal access to publicly funded educational content.
This is an excerpt from comments we submitted last week to the U.S. Department of Education on the proposed requirements for the Investing in Innovation Fund (I3 program). Creative Commons, along with the Open CourseWare Consortium, the Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education, and the State Educational Technology Directors Association, believe that insofar as the I3 program will use public funds to support the creation of educational materials, those educational materials ought to be made freely and openly available to the public. We urge the U.S. Department of Education to adopt a policy identical to that of the Department of Labor’s (DOL) Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training grant program (TAACCCT). That initiative requires that educational content created with DOL grant funds be shared under a Creative Commons Attribution license (CC BY).
The DOL open policy states (pdf):
In order to ensure that the Federal investment of these funds has as broad an impact as possible and to encourage innovation in the development of new learning materials, as a condition of the receipt of a TAACCCT grant, the grantee will be required to license to the public (not including the Federal Government) all work created with the support of the grant (Work) under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY) license. Work that must be licensed under the CC BY includes both new content created with the grant funds and modifications made to pre-existing, grantee-owned content using grant funds … This license allows subsequent users to copy, distribute, transmit and adapt the copyrighted Work and requires such users to attribute the Work in the manner specified by the grantee.
The $2 billion DOL program’s CC BY open licensing requirement will help maximize the impact of those grant funds, and the $100+ million I3 Program can realize similar benefits by adopting the same policy.
Read the complete comments we submitted at the CC wiki.