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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Open content, a neologism coined by analogy with "open source", describes any kind of creative work, or content, published under a license that explicitly allows copying and modifying of its information by anyone, not exclusively by a closed organization, firm or individual. Open content is an alternative paradigm to the use of copyright to create monopolies; rather than leading to monopoly, open content facilitates the democratization of knowledge.[1]

The largest open content project is Wikipedia.[2]


Technical definition

The Open Knowledge Foundation has undertaken work on a technical definition for open content. The Open Knowledge Definition (OKD) gives a set of conditions for openness in knowledge - much as the Open Source Definition does for open-source software. Content can be either in the public domain or under a license which allows re-distribution and re-use, such as Creative Commons Attribution and Attribution-Sharealike licenses or the GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL). It is worth noting that the OKD covers open data as well as open content.


It is possible that the first documented case of open content was the Royal Society, which aspired to share information across the globe as a public enterprise. The term "open content" was first used in the modern context by David Wiley, then a graduate student at Brigham Young University, who founded the Open Content Project and put together the first content-specific (non-software) license in 1998, with input from Eric Raymond, Tim O'Reilly, and others.

Free content

As with the terms "open source" and "free software", some open content materials can also be described as "free content", although technically they describe different things. For example, the Open Directory Project is open content but is not free content. The main difference between licenses is the definition of freedom: some licenses attempt to maximize the freedom of all potential recipients in the future (by having minor "restrictions") while others maximize the freedom of the initial recipient.


Common content

The related term "common content" is occasionally used to refer to Creative Commons–licensed works. This takes after the Common Content project, which is an attempt to collect as many such works as possible.

Open access

"Open access" refers to a special category of material, consisting of freely available published peer-reviewed journal articles.

Open-content search engines

With the increased interest in open content, many universities have started offering online video/audio courses to the general public, such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Princeton University. This has resulted in a great increase in providers of open content. The difficulty of keeping track of all such content had led to the birth of open-content search engines.[3]


See also


  1. ^ Lawrence Liang, "Free/Open Source Software Open Content", Asia-Pacific Development Information Programme: e-Primers on Free/Open Source Software, United Nations Development Programme – Asia-Pacific Development Information Programme, 2007.
  2. ^ Schoer, Joachim; Hertel, Guido (2007-12-03). "Voluntary Engagement in an Open Web-based Encyclopedia: Wikipedians, and Why They Do It" (PHP). Retrieved 2007-03-17.  
  3. ^ "Creative Commons meta-search engine". Creative Commons. Retrieved 2008-08-09.  

External links

Major open content repositories and directories


Up to date as of January 23, 2010
(Redirected to Help:Open content article)

From Wikibooks, the open-content textbooks collection

Open content means that works can be more-or-less freely distributed and used in identical and modified form. The Creative Commons [1] provides a good introduction issues in respect to audio, images, video, text and education content. The Free Software Foundation [2] and Open Source Technology Group (OSTG) [3] are where you can become familiar with the issues of open software.

It is sometimes suggested that 'Open' learning means that there are no formal entry qualifications.

The term "Open Learning" is commonly used to describe a number of practices that may or may not be present in any instance of a learning episode described as "open learning".

Learning may, for example, be "open" with respect to place of study, time of study, admission requirements and fees.

Some "open" learning is very highly structured and instructivist. Other open learning is entirely learner-directed. There may or may not be enrollment and completion dates. Some open learning is free and some open learning is expensive.

Simple English

Open content is when someone creates something and lets others copy it or change it without having to ask for permission. Any media can be open content, from text and pictures to video and sound.

When someone creates something (like a picture or book), they can make that work "open". This means that other people are allowed to copy it and change it if they want. Something that is open content may be free of charge, but it does not have to be.

The Simple English Wikipedia is open content. So are other Wikipedias. If a person changes open content or makes new open content, everyone can give it to anyone else, or even sell it. It is never needed to ask permission to do this, because the people who wrote the text already gave their permission when they clicked the Save button.


The rules that say how people can use, change and pass around open content are called a license. A license explains exactly what you are allowed to do with the content that falls under it. Licenses are often written in difficult lawyer language ("legalese"), but many licenses have summaries that are much easier to understand.

The makers of open content get to choose what license to use for their work, and everyone else has to follow it. Only the maker, who owns the copyright, can change it to another license. Most open content licenses say that when others change the work, they must also declare it to be open and under the same license. This is called share-alike and means that anything based on work will always be open content.

All the content in Wikipedia is open under the rules of the GNU Free Documentation License, a very well-known open content license. Other well-known open content licenses are the Creative Commons licenses.

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