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Are publishers "Openwashing" content?

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By Rory McGreal October 22, 2012 - 9:57am

"Openwashing" is a term being used to describe when copyright owners "open" or release their content for use but do not use an open license. This is considered disingeneous by some.

This is an interesting point. Prior to 1963 in Common Law countries like the UK, Canada and the USA authors had to place a copyright statement or sign on their works for them to be copyrighted. The default was "open".  However, since then EVERYTHING is copyrighted and so you need a special license to open up content (e. g. Creative Commons).
Many people place their content on line with the intention of wanting people to use it and so they believe it is open and to some extent, depending on the copyright laws of the country the user is in, this is legally possible. So, online content appears open and for most if not all individual uses it is open. Even many publishers "open" their content for individual use in this way. Many institutions do so also, including Athabasca.(AU also has openly licensed content at
The term "openwashing" suggests that the companies are doing this as a smokescreen. I do not believe that. They are opening up their content for individual use and the perception is really an artefact of the present legal environment.


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