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[school-discuss] Open Content: Dialog on creative commons licensing terms

A request was received from an organization called Openlearn ( http://www.open.ac.uk/openlearn/home.php) to be listed as an open content resource.  I was impressed with what is available on the website and the application of the creative commons to the content resources.  There is also an interesting aspect of this which seeks to creatively implement a way for third party content to be included. 
There was one aspect that I have some questions about - and it has to do with some of the licensing terms provided on their website.  Which leads to another positive: Openlearn not only agreed to, but embraced the suggestion that this is something that should be examined and discussed in the SchoolForge community.  I see it as more visibility for them, and constructive discussion for all.. a good exchange.

The discussion so far...


I am writing to you to request a link from http://www.schoolforge.net/ to openlearn, The Open University's new website which offers free learning materials to anyone with access to the internet.

I noticed that your site has excellent resources around open resources in education and wondered whether you and your visitors might be interested to see the tools and materials that the openlearn project has made available. You can find a list of our material here http://openlearn.open.ac.uk/course/index.php .

The fact we've published these under a Creative Commons license means that visitors – whether learners, teachers or other staff - can also download and reuse the materials, amending them to suit their purpose. We have also provided lots of free elearning software to help communities of learners form through online video conferencing, instant messaging for groups of learners and knowledge maps.
If you feel that your visitors and colleagues would benefit from knowing about openlearn I'd be grateful if you could spread the word! It would be great to have a link setup from your website to http://www.open.ac.uk/openlearn, which is where you can find out more about us.
If you have any questions, comments or require a press release for your communications, please feel free to contact me at this address. If you would like to sign up for our openlearn newsletter, you can do so on the openlearn homepage.


This a wonderful resource and contribution you guys are providing, it is also exactly the type of resource we would link to.  We would be happy to add this at SchoolForge, but there are a couple things I would like to note first. 

First, on the copyright page (http://www.open.ac.uk/about/thiswebsite/p2_2.shtml) it is stated " We may bring any rights granted to you to an end at any time without necessarily providing notice to you ." which conflicts with the creative commons license termination clause which states:

5. Termination

The rights granted to You under this Licence shall terminate automatically upon any breach by You of the terms of this Licence. Individuals or entities who have received Collective Works from You under this Licence, however, will not have their Licences terminated provided such individuals or entities remain in full compliance with those Licences.

I mention this because we feel it is important that users can utilize resources without complicated licensing concerns.  For example, if someone were to create a derivative work/remix a resource and that resource was then used as a derivative work again by another party - if the original resources rights were ended and the creative commons license were removed, it would be a mess attempting to track down each of the derivative works owners and attempting to correct/convince a number of users to make the necessary changes (that felt they were in full compliance with the creative commons license.)


The 'right to terminate' clauses are intended to operate in the following ways:

* To protect our position in case the OL project is not sustainable and we have to withdraw the site – something we don't intend to do and which we are working very hard to avoid.  
* In the event that someone contributing content to Openlearn makes comments that are defamatory, racist or obscene or dangerously wrong (say they submitted a chemistry experiment with directions that might cause an explosion).  We don't intend at any point to withdraw or restrict the licence to affect the ability of a legitimate user to make full use of content we're offering through OL.
* As we include third party content in OL offerings, and this is one of the things that we think marks OL content as different from most other open content offerings, we are ourselves obliged to remove content should a third party rights holder instruct us to take it down.   
Otherwise we comply with the standard Creative Commons or GPL (in the case of software) licences.  We wouldn't track either original or remixed or reversioned content in an attempt to act retrospectively.


I can see where a clause might be necessary to say that materials could be "removed" from the website at any time and that Openlearn has no responsibility to distribute these materials, but that and claiming a right to terminate materials licensed under creative commons are two entirely different approaches.

To be fair, these are my thoughts, and I would like to share this discussion with the SchoolForge community where other perspectives could be provided.  Is that alright? 

I have absolutely no objection and your suggestion is entirely in the spirit of open content. I think it would be very useful for the SchoolForge community to discuss the issue more widely.  OpenLearn is unfamiliar and exciting territory for us and it may be that we haven't entirely discarded some licensing habits more appropriate to more closed licensing models.  Part of our investigation of OpenLearn is to investigate how we license open content and how effective our terms and conditions are.  So any comments coming out of your discussion would be very welcome.