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Hi Everyone:

Two quick comments in response to Jacky's note:

(1) For something to be an OER, one must have free (no-cost / gratis) access to the OER and (not "or") legal permissions (libre) to engage in the “4R” activities when using the OER, including:
  • Reuse: use the original or your new version of the OER in a wide range of contexts
  • Revise: adapt and improve the OER so it better meets your needs
  • Remix: combine or “mashup” the OER with other OER to produce new materials
  • Redistribute: make copies and share the original OER or your new version with others
See Hewlett OER definition:
  • OER are teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others. Open educational resources include full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge.
There are, of course, other good OER definitions... but they all contain these two key elements - (1) no-cost access to the resource and (2) the legal rights to re-purpose the resource. For example, see the OER definition in UNESCO's Paris OER Declaration:
  • “Teaching, learning and research materials in any medium, digital or otherwise, that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits no-cost access, use, adaptation and redistribution by others with no or limited restrictions. Open licensing is built within the existing framework of intellectual property rights as defined by relevant international conventions and respects the authorship of the work."

It is important we hold the line on what is labeled OER... and not allow for open washing (= entities calling something OER when the resources are not either (a) in the public domain or (b) openly licensed).

(2) Re: Creative Commons licenses.

First, using a CC license is, of course, optional.  People use CC licenses when their intent is to share.  When the copyright holder does elect to put a CC license on their work, they do provide no-cost / "royalty-free" access to the resource. Here is the next from the CC licenses on this point:

3. License Grant. Subject to the terms and conditions of this License, Licensor hereby grants You a worldwide, royalty-free, non-exclusive, perpetual (for the duration of the applicable copyright) license to exercise the rights in the Work as stated below:

  1. to Reproduce the Work, to incorporate the Work into one or more Collections, and to Reproduce the Work as incorporated in the Collections;
  2. to create and Reproduce Adaptations provided that any such Adaptation, including any translation in any medium, takes reasonable steps to clearly label, demarcate or otherwise identify that changes were made to the original Work. For example, a translation could be marked "The original work was translated from English to Spanish," or a modification could indicate "The original work has been modified.";
  3. to Distribute and Publicly Perform the Work including as incorporated in Collections; and,
  4. to Distribute and Publicly Perform Adaptations.
Note: I copied the above text from the BY NC license:

Of course, "royalty free" access to a resource is not the same as the licensee having commercial rights to sell the resource.



Cable Green, PhD
Director of Global Learning
Creative Commons
reuse, revise, remix & redistribute


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Gratefully, Cable has already responded with the royalty-free language from the CC license. But there is a bit of nuance here which we should attend to. It is true that a publisher of CC licensed materials could attempt to sell access to their CC licensed content. However, the first person who bought that CC licensed content has permission to distribute that content for free to the rest of the world. So, while your statement "Creative Commons licenses do not require the license holder to provide no-charge products" is technically correct, it is extraordinarily misleading since the CC licenses do permit each and every licensee of those products to redistribute them for free to the entire world, irrevocably, and in perpetuity. CC licensed content will always be available for no-charge, whether they area available no-charge from the license holder or not. 

Also, as an FYI - our new organization called "Lumen Learning" is pursuing a well established no-charge strategy. The model, sometimes called "Give away the razor, sell the blade" is a model first applied to no-charge openly licensed materials by Eric Raymond in his essay The Magic Cauldron (

"In this model, one open-sources software to create a market position not for closed software (as in the loss-leader/market-positioner case) but for services." 

Eric characterizes this model as "Give away the recipe, open a restaurant." This is, of course, essentially the business model used by the very successful company RedHat. Much like RedHat, which provides training, technical support, and a wide range of other services around no-charge open source software, Lumen provides training, technical support, and a range of other services around "no-charge OER" (which is redundant to say).