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.

Publishers, authors, and institutions are exploring a variety of flexible approaches to licensing and rights management. 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?

  • Pressures on institutions will increase to both keep IP to exploit what they have, and to exploit other's IP in terms of saving money by using appropriately licensed material. Initiatives suck as OER have taken some institutions down the path of understanding IP issues, but once the funding runs out the challenge will be how to embed open licensing in an institution wide context.- neil.witt neil.witt May 16, 2011
  • another response here

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

  • Learner/student generated content - learners making choices about copyrighting their own work, being able to make informed choices as a result of understanding copyright/licensing. Copyright/licensing choices as a digital literacy. - helen.keegan helen.keegan May 16, 2011
  • Questioning, challenging and establishing new rules through remixing, risk-taking and the emergence of usage permissions, e.g. remixing or using a music track on a YouTube video, acknowledge track/artist at end of video, tag with artist's name, artist finds video and gives it the go-ahead (this happened here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wxzQi2A4Zh4) - helen.keegan helen.keegan May 16, 2011
  • With private providers entering the HE market and HEIs exploiting the CPD market there's going to be changes in agreements with publishers. Will non-core funded users get the same level access to resources? - neil.witt neil.witt May 16, 2011
  • The description mentions licences for scholarly papers but I think more emphasis needs to be given to the open access agenda, particular as it exists around research data and publications. As this gains traction it will heavily influence expectations around learning materials. There is also a significant 'open' agenda around government data which, again, encourages a change of attitude and expectations more widely. - andy.powell andy.powell May 17, 2011 Agreed - perhaps Hargreaves Report will also have an impact in directing future thinking in this area too - david.harrison david.harrison May 18, 2011
  • new approaches to licensing e-texts e.g. institutions working directly with publishers to provide e-texts to all students to improve student access & experience, reduce copyright infringement, reduce transaction and distribution costs and remove retailer margins. see Daytona State approach http://www.daytonastate.edu/etext/vision.html - chris.cobb chris.cobb May 17, 2011

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on teaching, learning, research or information management within the next five years?

  • your response here
  • another response here

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

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