What is Open Content?


Open content licensing can open a new and amazing world to you and your classroom or organization.  It allows you to access, use, modify (read: make more content!), and distribute amazing pieces of work by talented artists and writers.  The greatness goes both ways, because it’s also an excellent way for artists and writers to get their name into the world (and into a lot of credits).  Even if an artist only puts a small portion of their work in the creative commons, it gives them an opportunity to broadcast their greatness and also provides access to great art for people who couldn’t otherwise afford it.

What’s not to love?

Any content can be open content: movies, pictures, audio, text, multimedia.  The licenses allow consumers and artists to use it in more ways than would be permitted under traditional copyright law, for free.

What ways, you ask? www.opencontent.org talks about the four R’s:

  1. Reuse – the right to reuse the content in its unaltered / verbatim form (e.g., make a backup copy of the content)
  2. Revise – the right to adapt, adjust, modify, or alter the content itself (e.g., translate the content into another language)
  3. Remix – the right to combine the original or revised content with other content to create something new (e.g., incorporate the content into a mashup)
  4. Redistribute – the right to share copies of the original content, your revisions, or your remixes with others (e.g., give a copy of the content to a friend)

Content can have different levels of openness, allowing various combinations of the four R’s, and usually also requires attribution: you have to credit the creator for his or her work.

Some organizations and individuals write their own open content licenses, but many people use the licenses created and shared by Creative Commons, a nonprofit organization designed to help people like us share our work.

See the rest of our Free Media Guide for more info

Creative Commons Love: Neal Fowler on Flickr.com

Written by Michael Jones
Michael JonesWhat is Open Content?