Open Licenses: A quick review by the Commonwealth of Learning

One of the serious problems faced by many educational institutions in developing countries is that of gaining access to educational materials at an affordable price. The movement to create open educational resources is therefore a welcome one. To participate in this movement as a user or provider one needs to understands the intricacies of copyright law and licences.

Open Licenses - an article published by the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) - is part of an upcoming book on the use of copyright for authors, educators and librarians. It was written by Julien Hofman and Paul West.

From the introduction:

"An open licence, as used in this chapter, is a neutral expression for a licence from a copyright holder allowing anyone to use the copyright material subject to the conditions in the licence. There are many different open licences, some for computer software and some for other forms of copyright material. Each has its own terms, conditions and technical vocabulary and their supporters do not always agree with one another. Some, disliking the business practices of commercial software suppliers and publishing houses, want to replace copyright with open licences. Some want to allow anyone to profit from the work of others without even telling them they are doing this. Despite the resistance to copyright by some open licence supporters, open licences are legal tools that use copyright law to achieve their objectives. It follows that for understanding open licences legal analysis is at least as important as ideological commitment."

More on Open Licenses.

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