openDemocracy goes Creative Commons

13 June 2005

Most people have heard of copyright. It means you can't just pluck things off the internet and publish them on your own website. And that you shouldn't download Britney Spears music onto your iPod without paying for it. In many cases it also locks down science, scholarship, culture and development because someone needs to make a profit. Copyright is good. But sometimes it is used in bad ways.

openDemocracy wants to be good. We don't publish articles to make a profit. And most of the authors on this site write with no pay because they really care about the issues. The more people who read the things they write, the more hope we have for dialogue and understanding worldwide. So we've been thinking: it's time to change our copyright terms to make it easier for you to share the articles - and the ideas - with anyone you like. From today openDemocracy is publishing the majority of its articles (subject to author agreement) under Creative Commons licenses.

Today is a great day.

We're inviting you to visit your favourite article, check if it is licensed under the Creative Commons,  and then republish it in any non-commercial medium of your choice. Got a blog? Do it! Work for a non-profit organisation with a members newsletter? Do it! Are you the editor of the school newspaper? Do it! Want to read our articles aloud and podcast them? We want you to think of this site as a resource for your work. Free, simple, permission granted in advance.

But openDemocracy also wants to survive. We ask that you follow some simple guidelines for attribution. And commercial publishers must pay for the rights to republish just as before. If we see you are using our gift to enrich yourself, we will send you an invoice with the thundering speed of lightning. Newspaper editors, we welcome you here.

Siva Vaidhyanathan has written an article celebrating the Creative Commons and our decision to join. And you can browse through a selection of some of the hundreds of articles from the archive we have set free on openDemocracy's home page. I'm so excited about this move I could burst. If more scholars and writers, (and publications) had the courage to set their ideas free, the world would already be a better place. Congratulations to our generous authors, who have embraced this idea enthusiastically.

(If you like the idea too, consider making a small donation. I'm hoping to prove the people who would consider this commercial suicide wrong. Free thinking! Not free beer.)

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