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 the educational sector you know best?

  • While not necessarily a "technology", open licensing of museum collections and associated resources is slowly gaining steam and is likely continue. Users increasingly seek out "open" collections for their activities and interests because the remove the ambiguity of copyright "do's and don'ts." Open access enables participation and use of cultural heritage, thereby further its spread and its value to society.- dianezorich dianezorich Feb 24, 2016 - Merete.Sanderhoff Merete.Sanderhoff Feb 29, 2016
  • As appropriate for their leadership role in the museum community, the Getty Research Institute (GRI) has released Getty Scholars’ Workspace™, a free, open-source online collaborative research environment. - shazan shazan Feb 25, 2016
  • Open access is critical to learning in museums. Educational resources that will have impact and direct the future of museum education will be open, accessible and reusable across a suite of connected experiences and platforms. Open access has implications not only for traditional scholarly publishing but for new types of creation and responses to museum collections. Open access to museum data, digital assets and research are vital to serving museum missions in the 21st century and beyond. Creative Commons advocacy and tools lead this movement. - nealstimler nealstimler Feb 27, 2016 - Merete.Sanderhoff Merete.Sanderhoff Feb 29, 2016

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

  • I would rephrase this section as "open access," a phrase more familiar in the GLAM community. It's more expansive in that it includes materials that owners choose to make available via open licenses (such as software or images they create) as well as materials that are already in the public domain (and thus don't need an open license because their status makes them open). - dianezorich dianezorich Feb 24, 2016 Good point - Merete.Sanderhoff Merete.Sanderhoff Feb 29, 2016
  • I agree with Diane the header term for this section should be changed to "open access." - nealstimler nealstimler Feb 27, 2016
  • I agree with Diane and Neal that the header of Open Licensing is not quite right. I would draw a distinction between the term 'open licensing' and 'open access' . Open Licensing can be used in reference to museums and other organisations making decisions about how they wish to share content they own copyright to. NMC and many other organisations choose to openly license their own content to make it maximally reusable. However, Open Access has a couple of meanings. It is often used in academic publishing to refer either to journals or individual articles where the publishing model is that content can be accessed by users for free. There are many flavours of 'open' and the issue is contentious in academic publishing. Open access for museums can also relate to how an organisation chooses to provide access to its legacy collection of content where copyright is not owned by the organisation. We see more museums and libraries undertaking extensive projects to assess the copyright status of items in the collections, and making them available openly (in the public domain) where possible according to copyright law. - ewallis ewallis Feb 28, 2016 - Merete.Sanderhoff Merete.Sanderhoff Feb 29, 2016
  • A missing theme in this discussion is the growing pressure from the outside on museums to provide open access to common cultural heritage. A recent example, which contains interesting post-colonial notions as well, was the activist action of artist duo Nora Al-Badri and Jan Nikolai Nelles making a covert 3D scan of the Nefertiti bust in the Neues Museum in Berlin and subsequently releasing the dataset in an attempt to set free this piece of world heritage. http://hyperallergic.com/274635/artists-covertly-scan-bust-of-nefertiti-and-release-the-data-for-free-online/ This is a sign that the public is not accepting licensing barriers around cultural heritage that is legally in the public domain. - Merete.Sanderhoff Merete.Sanderhoff Feb 29, 2016
  • Agree about not restricting to licensing/publication. The topic of "open" more generally should include open data as well (per Merete's comments). Museums such as the Rijksmuseum, the Cooper-Hewitt and many others that have made all their data open, as well as providing API interfaces, are seen as leaders in a movement that may well become a standard for the field. - elizabeth.merritt elizabeth.merritt Mar 1, 2016

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on education and interpretation in museums?

  • Museum collections and resources will get greater use and be perceived as more valuable (in a societal, not monetary) sense. - dianezorich dianezorich Feb 24, 2016
  • Getty Scholars' Workspace™ is has recently announced their online environment designed to support collaborative art-historical research. These kinds of collaborative spaces and toolsets toolset enable scholars to examine digital surrogates of works of art and primary source materials, build a bibliography, translate and annotate texts, and exchange ideas. Not limited to the Getty holdings, their platform can be used with digital content from any archive of any person or institution. - shazan shazan Feb 25, 2016- jludden jludden Mar 2, 2016
  • Museums, and art museums in particular, are learning institutions which emphasize making as a demonstration of humanity’s creative impulse. That which is copied without undue obstruction is more easily studied, understood, discerned and remade into new culture. Openly accessible content resonantly builds upon the past, shapes our present and nurtures a future with greater innovative capacity. - nealstimler nealstimler Feb 27, 2016
  • I think that it brings back the old notion of museums as 'trusted repositories'. The more transparent and the more guidance we can give to users of our content about what is allowable, the better. And the more open content we can make available, the more trusted we will become. As Neal says, this can only spur innovative capacity. Specifically thinking of educators - providing clearly marked content for reuse takes away guesswork and can give time-poor teachers the resources they need when they need them. The biggest challenge is to get the word out to educators that the resources are there. - ewallis ewallis Feb 28, 2016
  • The 'trusted repository' dimension is important for enhancing learning opportunities also in an indirect way. Wikipedians will prefer images from trusted repositories such as museums to illustrate their Wikipedia articles. School kids are more likely to find museum content featured in Wikipedia than on specific museum websites; thus by opening up our collections we can support learners in finding high quality material with links back to the source. - Merete.Sanderhoff Merete.Sanderhoff Feb 29, 2016
  • Open data and open publication may disrupt many of the traditional economies supporting museum work. Professional journals are struggling to adapt to respond to the push for open access. When they transfer the costs of publication from end users to authors, it can have a stifling effect on publication. At the same time, researchers and other authors are increasingly turning to self-publication, or shared professional spaces on the web, bypassing traditional journals and further destabilizing the model. Funders (both government and private) with increasing frequency require researchers to make the data sets resulting from their work open and accessible, which could accelerate progress in some fields, and suppress fraud. Most importantly, perhaps, open data can result in other organizations, nonprofit or forprofit, using the museum's data resources to create sustainable educational programs and services. The challenge for the field is to tie this to an income stream--either from the intermediaries that turn the data into products, or from funders pleased with the resulting impact. - elizabeth.merritt elizabeth.merritt Mar 1, 2016

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

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