The OER Meal Deal

David Wiley, iterating toward openness, Nov 25, 2010
Commentary by Stephen Downes

David Wiley is having a crisis of openness faith because it turns out that licensing things openly doesn't produce any material benefit. Stephen Carson from MIT's OpenCourseWare wrote, "The costs… of openly licensing are actually the costs of licensing under any terms, including full copyright, and it wouldn't cost any less to do [MIT OCW under] full (C)." And as Wiley notes, none of the "lengthy, detailed list of benefits people receive from MIT OCW" is derived from the use of an open license. People could benefit just the same if the license were full copyright. I suggest (in the comments) that the main benefit is being able to copy the material. Mike Linksvayer says, "Freedom is free, or rather open does not equal open wallet, who knew!"

And Scott Leslie argues, "I for one have not been trying to argue that the open licenses aren't important, but that by putting ALL of the focus on them we overlook exactly this point – that making things open (in all senses of the word) as part of our actual teaching and learning process, and not simply as a 'publishing effort' (which the focus on 'open as only license' seems to promote) is the path to 'sustainability.'... The 'movement,' though, seems more stuck on using licenses as a way to have the 'resources' open but keep the rest of their business unchanged, to have their disruptive cake and eat it too, if you will." Exactly right.
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