Time for a new license

I started writing this blog almost 6 years ago to support some work I was doing at UKOLN creating an internal remote worker community. I was lucky enough to have Brian Kelly as a line manager and he encouraged me to think about policies to support the blog. We also discussed the license the blog would have and how we wanted both the content and position of my blog to be transparent and clear.

licenceWorking at UKOLN and for a higher education institution openness was important but there was still some hesitation around links with the commercial sector. For example it took a good few years for the IWMW event I was heavily involved with to really feel happy to have sponsorship. Now it almost seems crazy for a conference to take place without some commercial back up. Anyway these concerns led me to opt for a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.

Since then the landscape has changed. The boundaries between education and commercial endeavours have blurred, especially with the introduction of student course fees. I now work for an organization where our belief is that “A piece of data or content is open if anyone is free to use, reuse, and redistribute it — subject only, at most, to the requirement to attribute and/or share-alike.” (open definition). I realise that this level of openness doesn’t work for everyone but a non-commercial licenses is longer good enough for this blog. I also want to try and bring in a wider audience, from more countries and more sectors, and have adapted my policy accordingly. With this in mind I’m moving over to a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported licence.

The Open Knowledge Foundation has published material on the consequences of using non-commercial licences

The Consequences, Risks, and side-effects of the license module Non-Commercial – NC: paper explains that:

If you mark your content as NC, it cannot be included in free knowledge databases like Wikipedia, into open media archives and in Open Source projects. It is often a commercial use that allows not-for-profit initiatives which work for the public good to succeed. The Wikipedia DVD which was produced commercially by Directmedia has greatly increased the popularity of Wikipedia. The same goes for the inclusion into commercial repositories – both are legally commercial usages and would not be allowed when including the NC module.

In the context of education and training, a great number of institutions depend on their own re- venues, as they are not (to the full extent) publicly funded. The dependency on course fees leads to their classification as commercial. They are therefore not allowed to use content marked with a CC license that includes the NC module, at least not without asking for permission of the author.

Even the usage in many blogs becomes illegal under the NC condition. Many bloggers display advertisements to lower their hosting costs or have an additional income. Therefore the use in these blogs is no longer – or at least not unambiguously – non-commercial.

So potentially someone could make money out of my blog…and if they figure out a way to do it I might just have a go myself! 😉