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I am reaching out to get a sense for what others are doing.  Here at the University of Southern Queensland (USQ), we are in the process of streamlining a process that makes it easy (reduced barriers) for members of our community to adopt an open license.  As it stands, the only license that is officially endorsed by the University is full rights reserved. So when somebody wants to apply a different license, a request needs to be made and the license reviewed.  A small group of faculty and administrators have been working on the process with rather positive feedback and support.

I am wondering if others have gone through this process and if they would be willing to share thoughts, their approaches, outcomes, suggestions, or any documentation. We are currently working on the following areas:

- Revising University policy to recognise open licensing (or at least not restrict it) for educational/course related content.

- Developing procedures and workflows that help make it easy to ensure that we are not inadvertently distributed content that is not open.

- Building content collections and tagging content in a fully featured repository to support responsible management of educational content and courseware.

- Developing incentives for “intellectually green courses” including the use of open textbooks.

- Creating opportunities for discussions about openness to develop better understanding, robust dialogue, and active participation.

As some on this list might know, USQ is a founding member of the OERu.  It has shown some commitment to participation in open communities, but has not really adopted the notions of openness in its governance and key culture creating structures and activities. It would be great to hear a bit from those on the list who have been thinking about, addressing, or have made headway in their universities (or have seen it in others).

I will be traveling to Educause this year and would be happy to pick this up while there as well.  In addition, I will be meeting along with Pat Masson and other good friends and colleagues at the Openness CG ( I would really like to continue building on what we are doing to promote emergence of an open university culture, share our challenges and learn from what others have done and are doing.




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Message from

Hi Ken,

Thanks for reaching out. 

The best solution is to change the default policy to open, and then allow creators to apply a more restrictive license including all rights reserved, eg to protect commercial interests where 3rd party investors are involved. 

The trick is to design the system in a way which minimises transaction costs for managing license permissions. My personal view is to assign copyright to the creator on condition that the original is released under a CC-BY license.  In this way the university investment in learning materials, research etc is protected by virtue of an open license. This also sends a very strong and positive message to university staff that the organisation values the IP faculty bring to the table.  The policy could make an exception for commercial interests requiring an internal process for approval of a closed license in this scenario. Not to restrict innovation -- but to afford the University the first right of refusal to invest and support a staff member with a great idea.  

The University can also explore the idea of dual ownership of copyright under a default open license, as was done in the case of Otago Polytechnics open policy.  A few resource links from this part of the world to assist with your enquiry:


Message from


Afterthought -- It would also be worth your time to connect with the Open Policy Institute coordinated by Creative Commons. I can't find the link just now -- but they have a database of open policy exemplars.


Message from


Thanks for your thoughts on this and links.  We are actually heading down the default open path.  We are debating right now about the number of licensing options we should make available, but are definitely looking toward a CC-BY default. I think though that one of the watershed issues at hand is cultural acceptance not only of producing open content, but of reuse and re-contribution. 



Message from

Hi Ken,

The default open path is a smart move. From our experience - using CC-BY as default simplifies issues because then you open the door for any licensing alternative for derivative works including all rights reserved so you don't need to choose a suite of licensing options. Keeping things simple reduces the "costs of transaction" and administration overhead with this sort of thing.  

You're absolutely right -- the policy change is the easy part of the equation, moving cultural acceptance and crossing the chasm from sharing to learn --> learning to share is the hard bit. Our experience shows that the policy change establishes a solid foundation to start working on the cultural change which will take a few years judging by our own achievement so far ;-)

That said, lots of small steps, when added together over time results in the change we all want to see. 



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