Creative Licensing – the grey open source

Open source is not only about software or programming, it is first and foremost about content. Code, after all, is just content in a computer understandable language. More and more organisations are placing content in the public domain, with varying degrees of restrictions.

For example, the BBC has its own Creative Archive Licence to regulate its Open News Archive, which might be viewed as slightly restrictive. The Beeb has 79 video clips and audio files of major 20th century events on the website and permits you to share the films but not to profit from them.

Compare this with Wikipedia, whose founders wanted to create a democratic, and trusted source of information, free of the constraints and shackles of traditional publishing companies.

Despite its critics, the quality of some of Wikipedia’s entries means it is increasingly being use as a reference point by profit-making news websites - Vnunet and our own Tech Babble blog are just two examples.

Obviously, just repackaging the information and selling it is not worthwhile and is simply plagiarism, as one reporter found out to his cost.

So, in Wikipedia we have a reliable, known, trusted source of information, as well as a living proof of open source philosophy in action, working in symbiosis with traditional media companies.

You might want to read one of my previous blogs to contrast and compare people’s thought about Intellectual Property Rights and open source inspired licenses.