Open content

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Open content is a neologism coined by David Wiley in 1998 [1] which draws an analogy between open source practices and the publishing of content online.[2]. Open content describes thus any kind of creative work, or content, published under an open content license (OPL, pronounced like "opal")[3] that explicitly allows copying and modifying of its information by anyone, not exclusively by a single 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.[4]

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.[5]

The largest open content project is Wikipedia.[6]


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.

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