Open content

Open content, coined by analogy with "open source," (though technically it is actually share-alike) describes any kind of creative work including articles, pictures, audio, and video that is published in a format that explicitly allows the copying of the information. Content can be either in the public domain or under a license like the GNU Free Documentation License. "Open content" is also sometimes used to describe content that can be modified by anyone; there is no closed group like a commercial encyclopedia publisher responsible for all the editing.

It's possible that the first documented case of Open Content was with the Royal Society, where they aspired toward information sharing across the globe as a public enterprise. The commonality is difficult to dismiss. The words "open content" were first put together in this context by David Wiley, then a graduate student at BYU, who founded the OpenContent project and put together the first content-specific (non-software) license in 1998 with input from Eric Raymond, Tim O'Reilly, and others.

Like the debate between the titles "open source" and "free software", open content materials can also be described as free content, although technically they describe different things. For example, the Open Directory 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 while others maximize the freedom of the initial recipient. Much of the ideals of the open source movement was led by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). One such application is their famed Open Courseware (see below).

The related term common content is occasionally used to refer to Creative Commons-licensed works. This takes after the Common Content project, which is an attempt to collect as many such works as possible.


Open content projects (in alphabetical order)

Related topics, not open content


See also

collaborative writing, copyleft, free content, free software movement, open access, open source culture, public domain, public domain image resources, public domain resources, semi-public domain resources.

External links


The list of open content projects are partly based on The Institutional Design of Open Source Programming ( on Firstmonday

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