I recently had a short Twitter and blog conversation with someone about OER and the question “Why should all of the time that I spent developing this, be free for others to consume without some form of compensation for my time?”
Here in part is my response:
“The distinction [between OER and all the other free resources], worth noting I think, is that open educational resources are not only free, but are licensed in a way that they can be freely remixed and redistributed by others (with attribution). This is generally done under an open license like those from Creative Commons.
The reason this is important is that the owner/creator still owns the copyright to the materials. That being the case, they can still be compensated through advertising or even selling the material. Some of the ways creators of OER can be compensated for their work is by selling versions of it (especially printed versions or versions with other value added), seeking voluntary donations (this has been very popular in the entertainment industries and sometimes has yielded higher returns that just selling content outright), and selling services related to the materials (for example professional development).
Still the question remains – do you really want to give away stuff you spent a lot of time working on?
That is a question that each individual has to answer. I don’t think any of us who advocate for OER think that everyone should give their stuff away.
Instead, we want to make sure that people who want to give their stuff away know that using an open license is an option. It’s a way to get broader distribution and use of your materials if you were going to give it away anyway. A lot of people who post free stuff intend for people to be able to reuse and redistribute it, but the complexities of copyright and fair use get in the way.
Simply put, if you really want to share freely, putting a Creative Commons license on something is the best way to do that.
Also, many of us think that educational materials that are paid for with public dollars should be openly licensed so that they are freely shareable (but that’s another post!)
On the issue of whether it’s worth freely and openly sharing, I can say that from my personal perspective is YES. (I will say that it took me several years to reach this point.) By freely and openly sharing, I have gained so much, personally, professionally, and yes, even monetarily.
That’s just my perspective, but I thought I’d share it.”