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Recently, I’ve been hearing a few comments that seem to suggest we should be using the most open of licences for resources or, frankly, not bothering at all.

The reasons include the carrot-y ones (‘the less restrictive the license the more likely your resource will be reused‘) to the stick-y ones (‘if there are restrictions on reuse, you just don’t get the meaning of open’.)

So I’m getting on my soapbox…

I love the idea of sharing that which does not diminish us and practice this with my own personal work (I do not own that which I create at work, so that’s a different story, but I’m working on it.) However, I do not subscribe to the all or nothing view of openness. Here’s why.

There are categories of resource that are just not suitable for completely open release.  Here’s are some examples (there are others) and if you disagree, leave your counter arguments in the comments:

  1. Sensitive material – e.g. forensic science photographs.
  2. Q & A that include the A –  good for self-educating students, but can there be nothing that educators can use ‘as is’ without having to change because students can look up the answers?
  3. Specialised tests – e.g. concept inventories, the outputs of which are only useful because when students meet them it’s for the first time.

Is anyone saying that the originator should never presume to select who should access a resource?

I’m also in favour of having a more restrictive license available in cases of new users, and not giving them a hard time if they use it. Organisations and individuals can be nervous about openness and what will happen; is there real harm in them ‘testing the water’ with a more restrictive license so they can get some experience and see that adding an open license does cause the sky to fall in? And if they do find that their resources don’t get much reuse, that might be the perfect time to explain that it’s opening the licence up that may solve that problem. In this way, the user moves in a more open direction and doesn’t need to be pushed or cajoled.

I’ve seen nothing that suggests that those that use the more restrictive licenses never graduate to less restrictive ones; I myself have moved from the most to the least restrictive CC licence as I have become more comfortable with the idea. I had to start somewhere and I’d like to extend that option to others.

I’m for encouraging sharing, and support this as part of my role, and to me that means understanding others’ motivations to share and the specialist knowledge they have about their resources. Saying ‘all or nothing’ when sharing,  might get you the latter; be careful with your zeal you don’t just put off the very people I am trying to coax into participation. The shallow end is there for a reason: paddlers have the potential to become strong swimmers.

(Many thanks to @Lawrie for giving me the impetus to complete this posting, started some time ago.)

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One Comment

  1. Personally, I totally agree. @jukesie alerted me to this great post http://opencontent.org/blog/archives/1511 : “the “open” space should be the world’s foremost exemplary showcase of tolerance. We should be models of “open”-mindedness. And we should be the most open-minded in our thinking about openness itself! “


2 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Joscelyn and Tracey Madden, Chris Taylor. Chris Taylor said: RT @traceymadden: 'It's not open unless it's totally open.' Discuss.: http://wp.me/pyOHJ-6K #ukoer #oer […]

  2. By In Favor of More Restrictive Licenses | on 04 Sep 2010 at 4:27 pm

    […] of More Restrictive Licenses Posted on September 4, 2010 by openedblogger| Leave a comment Tracey Madden has a new post discussing reasons why people might choose more restrictive licenses for OER. From […]

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