Copyright and open access

In a collaborative environment the question of what belongs to whom is obviously salient. To a large extent the current commercial copyright regime discourages rather than encourages collaboration. Academic institutions for example often create a climate of fear by warning academics against the dangers of inadvertantly contravening copyright when making use of others' work in their teaching and scholarly work. There is also much negative focus on students who download music or photocopy books. The copyright environment is falsely being portrayed (as explained in this interview with Lawrence Lessing of Stanford Law school) as a battle between property and piracy - with no recognition of the large, legitimate collaborative space in between.

Aricles about open source and open access for education

Open access organizations and resources

There are many organizations working to create a more supportive copyright and access environment. Here are some examples:

  • The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) lists many "free, full text, quality controlled scientific and scholarly journals" under various categories. It is part of the Budapest Open Access Initiative.
  • The International Consortium for the Advancement of Academic Publication provides "technological support, publication, and enhancement of scholarly journals and educational resources, with the goals of greater accessibility, recognition and communication within the academic community".
  • Similarly, the Public Library of Science (PLoS), supports initiatives to make scholarly, peer-reviewed scientific and medical literature available for free online. They have started with two flagship journals, PLoS Biology and PLoS Medicine "that will compete head-to-head with the leading existing publications in biology and medical research". In addition to being free PLoS journals will place no restrictions on subsequent distribution and use of scholarly materials.
  • Another similar body is the Scolarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) - "an alliance of universities, research libraries, and organizations built as a constructive response to market dysfunctions in the scholarly communication system. These dysfunctions have reduced dissemination of scholarship and crippled libraries. SPARC serves as a catalyst for action, helping to create systems that expand information dissemination and use in a networked digital environment while responding to the needs of scholars".
  • Commontext is building a permanent library of freely shared classrooms texts.
  • encourages and promotes open educational content.
  • In the domain of software there is the Open Source Initiative and the the Free Software Foundation.
  • PubMed Central and BioMed Central publish and provide free and unrestricted access to scores of journals in the fields of medicine and biology.

Copyright organizations and resources

  • Cabinet Magazine has a very informative postcard-format graph of how the proportion of material in the public domain has shrunk since the 1960s.
  • Open Content and the Open Content License and the Open Publication License used to provide options for legally making one's work available to others. This has now been discontinued as it has been superceded by Creative Commons.
  • Creative Commons provides a range of different copyright licences that encourage sharing with others. There is a very nice flash intro here: It takes some time to load, but is well worth the wait.
  • Harvard Law School has the Berkman Center for Internet & Society which usually takes quite an enlightened view. One of the leading figures at the center, James Moore, invented the term "second superpower".
  • The Chilling Effects project is a joint project of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Harvard, Stanford, Berkeley, University of San Francisco, and University of Maine law school clinics. They say: "We are excited about the new opportunities the Internet offers individuals to express their views, parody politicians, celebrate their favorite movie stars, or criticize businesses. But we've noticed that not everyone feels the same way. Anecdotal evidence suggests that some individuals and corporations are using intellectual property and other laws to silence other online users. Chilling Effects encourages respect for intellectual property law, while frowning on its misuse to "chill" legitimate activity."

Major sources of open content

  • MIT OpenCourseware - full notes etc from MIT courses (plus an interesting article on how OpenCourseware is being used internationally by David Diamond, 2003, Wired, Issue 11.09, September)
  • Common Content is a catalogue of creative commons licensed images, texts, movies etc.
  • Scores of free-access, peer reviewed journals in the field of education are listed here by the American Educational Research Association (also at this alternate address).
  • PubMed Central and BioMed Central host scores of free peer-reviewed journals in the fields of medicine and biology.
  • Connexions is "collaborative, community-driven approach to authoring, teaching, and learning that seeks to provide a cohesive body of high-quality educational content to anyone in the world, for free".

Open access blogs and newsletters

  • Open Access News is Peter Suber's blog (previously FOS News) about "putting peer-reviewed scientific and scholarly literature on the internet [and] making it available free of charge and free of licensing restrictions".

 Fair use

Collaborative learning environments sourcebook

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