As more and more open content finds its way online, licensing and rights have become a key issue on a global level.
Licensing is complex and the more open you make content under an end user licence the greater the risk if you haven’t sought the necessary permissions. In partnership with the Higher Education Academy, Jisc is funding a support project on IPR and licensing issues for Open Educational Resources. The latest addition to their suite of support resources is a new tool - the Risk Management Calculator – designed to help understand levels of risk associated with publishing open educational materials. Typical examples of this might include materials which are still in copyright, but for which the rights holders cannot be traced or are unknown (so called “Orphan Works”). The calculator helps those relatively new to licensing to make the right decisions when creating open content.
Jisc programme manager Amber Thomas says: “I’m very excited by the development and launch of this tool because it provides a means for projects and organisations to understand the criteria associated with the types of materials they wish to release – material with copyright but for which permission has not been sought. This tool helps projects to select the most suitable licences for their specific materials and in accordance with the delivery and usability of their Open Educational Resources.”
Project director Naomi Korn comments: “The Risk Management Calculator is a good example of the way the OER IPR support project team works: a marriage of copyright and licensing expertise with a group of immensely talented staff from the technology enhanced learning team at Plymouth University creating tools that users can use to help them understand and do copyright and licensing better.”
More and more organisations are realising the benefits of releasing their content under Creative Commons Licences, or similar open content licences such as the Open Government Licence, which explicitly grant the end-user permission to use materials, modify or redistribute them. Institutions like the British Library are releasing their bibliographic records to be reused without attribution and Creative Commons Licences are increasingly used by developing countries to open up content.