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?

  • OER and other kinds of Open Source Learning materials have been a bit of a rage at community colleges and within state legislatures. In our situation, textbooks often cost more than tuition and, as such, represent a significant financial burden on our students. However, despite the hype Open Source content has yet to deliver on its promise. Alternative licensing might provide an another route to undermining the hegemony of the textbook companies over our students. Other technologies such as the rapid adoption of iPads, Kindles, and other readers will drive this debate as students will increasingly see eBooks as an alternative. We in academia have to figure out how to adapt our processes to accommodate both of these new trends. - tom.haymes tom.haymes Sep 28, 2010 - helga helga Sep 30, 2010 - alan alan Oct 18, 2010
  • Academic libraries are really interested in Open Access. As journal prices continue to skyrocket and professors realize that they have been signing away copyright, we're seeing an increase in interest for Open Access Journals and Institutional Repositories. In some cases authors change the contract before submitting it to keep the right to use their publication in classes, on their website, etc. As more content is published in these open formats, more people have access to the materials. - laurenpressley laurenpressley Oct 5, 2010 A recent example of this in action is OAPEN (Open Access Publishing in European Networks) a European collaborative to build an open access model for Humanities and Social Sciences http://www.oapen.org/ - alan alan Oct 18, 2010
  • As more content is available online, education becomes more available. We might see a transition to an emphasis on higher levels of learning on Bloom's Taxonomy in higher education, rather than learning basic information that can be acquired on the web. (ie http://www.khanacademy.org/) - laurenpressley laurenpressley Oct 5, 2010 I'm not thrilled with their first offerings but Nixty http://www.nixty.com is an online course platform that is built on creating classes around open content - alan alan Oct 18, 2010
  • Most educational resources in developing countries are restricted to a set of traditional players who access it through institutional employment or enrollment. Copyright restrictions block creative re-use, restricting the actions of appropriation and remix essential to modern pedagogical activity.- bdieu bdieu Oct 14, 2010
  • Opening up existing courses and learning options to larger audiences promises a magnificent spread in opportunities, as evidenced by the summary provided in an AARP article published earlier this year (link provided below in Section 4) - paul.signorelli paul.signorelli Oct 16, 2010
  • As much as I love Creative Commons and use it all the time; it still trips people with some of the nuances between licenses-- there is a huge lack of awareness of the implications of choosing NC (Non Commercial); see Freedom Defined's Reasons Not to Use Non-Commercial licenses http://freedomdefined.org/Licenses/NC a license not supported by Wikipedia/Wikicommons - alan alan Oct 18, 2010

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

  • The disruption has already happened. It started a decade ago with Napster, then the iTunes store, and now books. The human processes are still catching up. This needs to be addressed in a comprehensive fashion by educational institutions as well as copyright holders. - tom.haymes tom.haymes Sep 28, 2010
  • Inclusion of Open Access in the discussion of Creative Commons and Copyleft. - laurenpressley laurenpressley Oct 5, 2010
  • Educators should have the authority, freedom and choice to decide on the kind of rights they want to apply to resources they author and produce as well as more options regarding how their published knowledge will be distributed without being forced to sign off their copyright to publishers as it is presently the practice. - bdieu bdieu
  • Some sites provide users the choice of choosing how to license their content (Flickr), but the implications of the various licensing choices under creative commons are not always clear regarding their implications for reuse by different entities (e.g implications of choosing a By-SA vs a By-NC license) - alanwolf alanwolf Oct 8, 2010

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

  • As educators we are often both content creators and content users. We have a lot of stake in the outcome of this debate. I think we are at a critical tipping point when it comes to these issues. The contradictions of the copyright system are starting to undermine its very foundations. As a critical nexus in this debate, we need to be actively involved in how it plays out or we may be faced with uncomfortable outcomes that would definitely undermine both the creative and consumptive natures of our business. - tom.haymes tom.haymes Sep 28, 2010 - laurenpressley laurenpressley Oct 5, 2010 - alanwolf alanwolf Oct 8, 2010
  • Creative re-use, appropriation, remix and creation of resources tailored to fit specific needs and context instead of pre-packaged materials enforced top-down. A must to modern pedagogical activity. - bdieu bdieu

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

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