Cat Johnson at Shareable wrote an excellent interview with CC’s Timothy Vollmer on the Open Policy Network, and the importance of open policy in general.
It seems logical that publicly-funded resources would be made available to the public, but I know this is not always the case. What stands in the way of these resource being made available and how does the OPN plan to address this?
To most it does feel logical — ethical even — that the public should have access to the materials funded by its tax dollars. That’s why our mantra with regard to the Open Policy Network is “publicly funded resources should be openly licensed resources.”
Right now this is not the case. In fact, oftentimes the public has to pay for materials several times over before they are granted access to it. Take the example of scholarly publishing. Many university researchers receive grants from the federal government to conduct their work. The public pays for this. The researcher does their work and then publishes in a commercial journal. That journal then sells access back to universities through subscription fees to those publications. I think most people would see that this is not an efficient – or just – use of the public’s investments.
I think what’s standing in the way of systemic policy change right now is “business as usual”–incumbent interests want things to stay the same. They want their business models to endure forever, even with massive disruptions of digital information and the web, which have essentially pushed publishing and distribution costs to zero.