DOKK Library

Deconstruct the geek-speek

Authors Kerryn Mackay

License CC-BY-2.0

    Deconstruct the geek-speek
    by Kerryn Mackay

    Open content
    The phrase “open content”, referring to “freely available
    and usable”, was coined by David Wiley, a graduate from
    Brigham Young University in the United States. Wiley co-
    founded the Open Content project and put together the first
    licence specifically for content (versus the existing licence
    for software) in 1998. As its name implies, open content
    refers to material (academic, educational, creative and
    media) that is free from the restrictions of default copyright.
    In order for it to be accessible for people to copy, download,
    share, make derivatives and redistribute, open content often
    applies a licence that tells others what they can do with
    the material. This licence specifies the default uses that
    are allowed without the permission of the copyright holder.
    If users wish to make other use of the material, they must
    ask permission of the copyright holder. This could involve
    monetary compensation.
    l     The most contentious issue around open content is
          whether it should only encompass content that allows
          derivatives and/or commercial use.

l   Open content licences allow for certain rights to be reserved,       Digital commons                                                        some rights, rather than the blanket-notion of copyright which states
    compared to default copyright which states that all rights are       Digital resources which have been recognised as “public”. In the       that all rights are reserved. The kinds of rights that can be reserved
    reserved in terms of copying, distributing or making derivatives.    same way that the transport system requires a set of road networks     through the use of a Creative Commons’ licence are:
                                                                         maintained by the government, so too does the technology industry      l    Attribution
Floss – Free/Libre Open Source Software.                                 require a set of resources held in common in order for innovators to   l    Attribution with non-commercial usage
Richard Stallman, a computer programmer from New York, first             prosper.                                                               l    Attribution with non-commercial usage and no derivatives
developed the Gnu-GPL licence and the Free Software Foundation.
                                                                                                                                                l    Attribution with non-commercial usage and share-alike (meaning
The movement began in the mid 1990s and was largely a response           The African digital commons                                                 if any derivative work is made from the original, the same
against large proprietary companies “hiding” their code in order to      To assist the growth of an African digital commons, key cultural and
                                                                                                                                                     licence must be attached to the new work)
sell software for profit. The “libre” part of the acronym was added to   knowledge products must be made accessible in order to inject          l    Attribution and share alike
distinguish between “free as in freedom” and “free as in free beer”.     shared resources into the development of a culture of innovation.
      Free software has made the world five promises:                    Free and open source software and content which is open are key
                                                                                                                                                Creative Commons ZA
1. The freedom to run the program for any purpose                        ingredients in this vision.
                                                                                                                                                South Africa is a recent addition to a growing list of countries
2. The freedom to study how the program works and adapt it to                                                                                   that have imported the Creative Commons licences into national
      your needs                                                         What is Creative Commons?                                              jurisdiction. Creative Commons South Africa is a web portal
3. The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your               A US-based non-profit organisation working in 31 countries which       dedicated to showcasing the work of local creators, educators and
      neighbour                                                          offers an alternative to default copyright that allows creators of     administrators who use Creative Commons licences.
4. The freedom to improve the program and release your                   cultural products to both retain control over their works and make
      improvement to the public so that the whole community benefits     explicit how they may be used by a wide community. Creative
5. The ability to have absolute access to the source code of the         Commons has created digital licences that can be attached to                     Published under the Creative Commons Attribution South
      program                                                            creative works whereby the author of the work may choose to reserve                                                   Africa 2.0 licence