As open has gotten “popular,” there have been some disturbing trends in how the label has been applied.

On a few recent occasions, I’ve run into content that is advertised as open and Creative Commons licensed. But in trying to locate that content, I’ve been unable to locate to find it, though I was able to find a for-sale version.

In two cases, I knew the folks responsible for developing the content and asked about it. I was told the content was in fact available under an open license but wasn’t publicly posted in that format.


Berlin wall
credit: Eric Gilliland

In one case, the content had been produced in partnership with a commercial publisher who didn’t want to make the open licensed version available. (When I asked if I might post the open licensed version on my own site, I was discouraged from doing so.) In another, I was told that I could get private access to the open licensed content.

This is a worrying consequence of the dual licensing schemes that have been proposed. While I’m not necessarily opposed to dual licensing, I would hope that hiding away the truly open version of the content isn’t tolerated.

I hope that consumers and funders are watching out for this. It doesn’t serve the open movement or especially learners.

Open is more than a technicality
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