Tell the Department of Education 'YES' on open licensing

Timothy Vollmer

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In October we wrote that the U.S. Department of Education (ED) is considering an open licensing requirement for direct competitive grant programs. If adopted, educational resources created with ED grant funds will be openly licensed for the public to freely use, share, and build upon.

The Department of Education has been running a comment period in which interested parties can provide feedback on the proposed policy. Creative Commons has drafted a response, which discusses the open licensing policy and other questions proposed by ED. You too can share your thoughts with ED–here’s a guide about how to do it. The deadline is December 18. Submit your comments now!

We think the adoption of an open licensing requirement is useful because it clarifies the rights of the public in how we may all access, use, and adapt ED-funded resources.

The license must be worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, perpetual, and irrevocable, and must grant the public permission to access, reproduce, publicly perform, publicly display, adapt, distribute, and otherwise use, for any purposes, copyrightable intellectual property created with direct competitive grant funds, provided that the licensee gives attribution to the designated authors of the intellectual property.

We think ED should include a specific mention that the open license definition they provide most closely aligns with the permissions and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution International 4.0 license (CC BY). This way, it will be clear to grantees which open license ED requires them to use.

It’s good to see the Department of Education proposing a similar rule that the Department of Labor introduced several years ago with their community college and career training grant program. That $2 billion grant pool required that educational resources created with Department of Labor grant funds be licensed under the CC BY license. By doing so, the Department of Labor made sure that the resources created with its grant funds can be easily discovered and legally reused and revised by the public.

How to submit a comment

Submit comments here

Update (January, 7, 2016)