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Why does "open" matter?

There is a lot of talk about "open" these days. It's the new black. It's cool and hip, and marketeers are calling their products "open," whether they are or not.

But what does "open" really mean? And why should we care?

For the purposes of this discussion, "open" refers to content that can be remixed, modified, and redistributed by anyone.

There's an endless supply of free content on the Internet. How is open different from everything else that is free? In the United States, any content that is not public domain (by virtue of its age or designation as such by the creator) is copyrighted, whether or not it is indicated as such. Subject to certain exceptions such as fair use, the copyright owner has exclusive rights to reproduce, prepare derivatives, and distribute the copyrighted work (section 107 of the copyright law).*

Open-licensed content, though, can be reused and redistributed without prior permission.

The most common open licenses are those provided by Creative Commons. An attachment below summarizes the various licenses and gives more info about open resources.

 As educators, why should we care about open? Some of the reasons include economics, remixability, and promoting a culture of sharing. We'll explore each of these in the chapters that follow.


Open image credit: j nygren; CC BY

Creative Commons Licence

Discussions About This Resource

Tellio's picture

I will be using this in my research class after spring break.  Great summary.