What is Open Licensing?


As new forms of publication and scholarship begin to take hold, the academic world is examining standard forms of licensing and rights management and finding them lacking. While current copyright and intellectual property laws focus on restricting use of materials, authors are beginning to explore new models that center on enabling use while still protecting the academic value of a publication. Some rights are still reserved, but some are proactively licensed at publication time to encourage re-use. These approaches make it clear which rights are licensed for various uses, removing the barrier of copyright and smoothing the way for others to access and use one’s work. One such approach is that taken by Creative Commons, an organization that supplies easy-to-understand, “some rights reserved” licenses for creative work. Authors simply review the list of rights they can grant or restrict, make their choice, and receive a link to a written license that spells out how their work may be used. The licenses work within current copyright laws but clearly state how a work may be used. Copyleft is another alternative license; often used in open source software development and describes how a work can be used and also governs how derivative works are to be licensed as well. Models like these are beginning to gain acceptance among artists, photographers, and musicians; scholarly papers and reports are increasingly released under alternative licenses. Some organizations, such as the New Media Consortium, have made it a policy to release all their work under licenses that facilitate sharing and reuse.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to academic and research libraries?

  • This topic has great relevance for access to information resources for all students in two primary areas: access to textbooks and access to other types of information resources (especially e-journals and e-books) that they need for supplementary course reading and for background for their course projects. Even the largest academic libraries do not subscribe or license all journals or monographs, and so every student has restrictions on what he/she can access without fee. If more articles and books were published in open access modes (with Creative Commons licenses, for example) there would be less variation in haves/have nots in terms of access to information resources. This is also becoming an important topic in information resources used in MOOC assignments. Since MOOCs often have international reach and participants may be from countries/institutions where they have very limited access to licensed information resources, librarians are increasingly assisting faculty who are teaching MOOCs to find open access publications to support assignments. - JoanLippincott JoanLippincott Apr 4, 2015 agree! - rudolf.mumenthaler rudolf.mumenthaler Apr 14, 2015
  • Open licensing often relies on e-journals and articles, but it may become more important also for e-books and especially digital textbooks. Works published under an open license can be spread much easier. The challenge is to find business models that fulfill researchers, teachers, students and publishers needs.- rudolf.mumenthaler rudolf.mumenthaler Apr 14, 2015
  • Increasingly important for academic libraries as the models for working with information aggregators and vendors shift.

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • Use of the term Open Access, which is how most librarians refer to this issue; Open Educational Resources (OER) is another term and theme that should be included. - JoanLippincott JoanLippincott - jan.howden jan.howden Apr 12, 2015Agree I would like to see OER as a topic- how can libraries support their creation as well as the use OER created elsewhere. The licensing issues are complex, emerging and not widely understood.
  • Not sure if this topic is quite right, but maybe something could be added about the special case of licensing for text and data mining. - erik.stattin erik.stattin Apr 20, 2015

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on academic and research libraries?

  • I think this topic has implications for library discovery systems (the systems that have superseded catalogs, in many cases) because I don't believe they do a good job of identifying open resources; they focus on library owned and licensed resources.- JoanLippincott JoanLippincott Apr 4, 2015
  • - Sandy.hirsh Sandy.hirsh Apr 19, 2015 Adding my agreement to this, as I think library discovery systems need to be more encompassing of the broader range of resources that are being used by faculty and students. Additionally, libraries increasingly are taking an active role in encouraging greater use of open access materials. For example, San Jose State University, the Library is taking an active role in encouraging faculty to switch to lower cost textbooks (or free open access resources) and is providing faculty with grants to encourage this transition. See: https://library.sjsu.edu/affordable-learning-solutions/textbook-alternatives-project and See:
    http://works.bepress.com/ann_agee/12/
  • - jan.howden jan.howden Apr 12, 2015In the UK a growing number of university libraries are developing their copyright advice and guidance services. Open licensing offers a solution to freeing information but complexity remains as many people will legitimately register their outputs under standard universal licences, however, others will licence objects they do not have the copyright for. This then leads to secondary infringement. The ideal of open licensing is great and we should encourage research outputs put on open access to also assert a universally recognised open licence. Libraries should fundamentally support the 'open' movement in all it's forms:OER, OA and OL. A clear articulation of what they offer just now and a direction of travel would be a positive contribution that libraries need to be a part of.
  • add your response here

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

  • SPARC is a major program; also OER Commons - JoanLippincott JoanLippincott Apr 4, 2015
  • add your response here

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