What is Alternative 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 choices, 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 approach; often used in open source software development, copyleft describes how 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 the educational sector you know best?

  • - tom.haymes tom.haymes Nov 18, 2011Education is explicitly based on sharing knowledge and scholarly communication has always reflected this to a certain extent. In the last century, however, economic imperatives have distorted this area. It's hard to work against a educational publishing industry that took in $5 billion last year.
  • Mandates to licence under CC or GPL from all publicly funded bodies for non commercial use would enable all Universities to access the intellectual output from all sectors and use this to build new cross discipline access to learning resources and research- DaveP DaveP Nov 20, 2011

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

  • - tom.haymes tom.haymes Nov 18, 2011This area continues to be one of a clash between the law and reality. While I want to say that current thinking about copyright will imminently flounder on its own contradictions, I've been waiting for this to happen for years. This will be fought tooth-and-nail by interested parties that have a lot of political power (at least relative to the other stakeholders in the equation) and this makes a timeline extremely hard to predict. Will we have an "Arab Spring" or continued contradictions?
  • Most students assume that they can use whatever they find online. It's hard to make the case for the importance of CC or other alternative licensing when students don't understand the existing copyright structures that are in place. - lauren.pressley lauren.pressley Nov 19, 2011
  • Many faculty show concern for the impact on their tenure by publishing under alternative licenses. - lauren.pressley lauren.pressley Nov 19, 2011
  • Student Copyright - as students become co-creators of their learning will tensions arise from the University retaining IP?- DaveP DaveP Nov 20, 2011
  • Open data - Growing emphasis on open data, that is, explicitly dedicating research data to the public domain so that others can reuse at will.- glenda.morgan glenda.morgan Nov 20, 2011 I listed this under open content, there is clear overlap. - alanwolf alanwolf Nov 20, 2011
  • Growing focus on licensing terms for academic literature so that others can not only access it and prepare derivative works, but also that machines can index and mine the literature. Particularly important for semantic web and technologies. - glenda.morgan glenda.morgan Nov 20, 2011
  • It is also important to distinguish between open access and licensing that allows re-use. A lot of open access content is very traditionally licensed and really limits reuse - and reuse and reinerpretation is a critical aspect for teaching and learning - glenda.morgan glenda.morgan Nov 20, 2011

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on teaching, learning, or creative expression?

  • - tom.haymes tom.haymes Nov 18, 2011This would move learning back to where it was before economic forces distorted the sharing of information.
  • Given the crisis in textbook pricing, it would ease the burden (or allow some students access to course materials they've been doing without). Also worth wondering about the future of University bookstores in this environment as well. - lauren.pressley lauren.pressley Nov 19, 2011
  • Widen the prospect for cross discipline work and research in medicine and design - where currently locked down access or pay walls do not allow transparency or encourage publication- DaveP DaveP Nov 20, 2011

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

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