What is open licensing?
A licence is a document that specifies what can and cannot be done with a work (whether sound, text, image or multimedia). It grants permissions and states restrictions. Broadly speaking, an open licence is one which grants permission to access, re-use and redistribute a work with few or no restrictions. (A full set of conditions which must be met in order for a licence to be open is available in the Open Knowledge Definition 1.0.). For example, a piece of writing on a website made available under an open licence would be free for anyone to:
- print out and share,
- publish on another website or in print,
- make alterations or additions,
- incorporate, in part or in whole, into another piece of writing,
- use as the basis for a work in another medium – such as an audio recording or a film,
- and do many other things …
Openly licensed works are hence free to be shared, improved and built upon!
The exact permissions granted depend on the full text of the open license that is applied. Different projects may require slightly different sets of permissions, or restrictions – and there are a range of different licences available to cater to these different purposes. Some open licences stipulate that the work may be freely re-used or re-distributed as long as the original author is appropriately credited. Some licences state that any derivative works – or works that incorporate all or parts of the original work – are made available under the same licence as the original work.