Open content, a neologism coined by analogy with open source, describes any kind of creative work, or content, published under a license that explicitly allows copying and modifying of its information by anyone, not exclusively by a closed organization, firm or individual. Open content is an alternative paradigm to the use of copyright to create monopolies; rather than leading to monopoly, open content facilitates the democratization of knowledge.
The term open content has an ambiguity. It means that anyone can get copies of the content (e.g. source code) but it can also mean that it gives the user certain copyright freedoms.
The largest open content project is Wikipedia.
 Technical definition
The Open Knowledge Foundation has undertaken work on a technical definition for open content. The Open Knowledge Definition (OKD) gives a set of conditions for openness in knowledge - much as the Open Source Definition does for open-source software. Content can be either in the public domain or under a license which allows re-distribution and re-use, such as Creative Commons Attribution and Attribution-Sharealike licenses or the GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL). It is worth noting that the OKD covers open data as well as open content.
It is possible that the first documented case of open content was the Royal Society, which aspired to share information across the globe as a public enterprise. Project Gutenberg, started in 1971, is arguably the first open content digital project (although the concept of a public domain of intellectual works preceded it).
 Free content
Main article: free content
As with the terms "open source" and "free software", some open content materials can also be described as "free content", although technically they describe different things. For example, the Open Directory Project is open content but is not free content. The main difference between licenses is the definition of freedom: some licenses attempt to maximize the freedom of all potential recipients in the future (by having minor "restrictions") while others maximize the freedom of the initial recipient.
 Common content
The related term "common content" is occasionally used to refer to Creative Commonsâ€“licensed works. This takes after the Common Content project, which is an attempt to collect as many such works as possible.
 Open access
"Open access" refers to toll-free access to a special category of material, consisting mainly of published peer-reviewed scholarly journal articles, along with a set of use (or reuse) rights, such as those included in Creative Commons licenses, which may make the material open content.
 Open-content search engines
With the increased interest in open content, many universities have started offering online video/audio courses to the general public, such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Princeton University. This has resulted in a great increase in providers of open content. The difficulty of keeping track of all such content had led to the birth of open-content search engines.
 See also
- ^ Lawrence Liang, "Free/Open Source Software Open Content", Asia-Pacific Development Information Programme: e-Primers on Free/Open Source Software, United Nations Development Programme â€“ Asia-Pacific Development Information Programme, 2007.
- ^ http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-software-for-freedom.html
- ^ Schoer, Joachim; Hertel, Guido (2007-12-03). "Voluntary Engagement in an Open Web-based Encyclopedia: Wikipedians, and Why They Do It" (PHP). http://www.abo.psychologie.uni-wuerzburg.de/virtualcollaboration/publications.php?action=view&id=44. Retrieved 2007-03-17.
- ^ "Creative Commons meta-search engine". Creative Commons. http://search.creativecommons.org/. Retrieved 2008-08-09.
 External links
 Major open content repositories and directories
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