Open is more than licensing – it’s a movement. It’s about sharing knowledge, and making content better. To be truly open, content should allow users to use open content that they find, modify that content, and redistribute that content. For example, if you write a textbook on biology and license it as open, then other people can grab that textbook, change it up a bit, and use it with their students. You will get credited as the original source. There are other variations of open.
- BY: Attribution
You need to give the original author credit.
- SA: Share Alike
You need to make your content that you modified available under the same licensing as the content you based it off of.
- ND: No Derivatives
You can use that content, but you can’t change it.
- NC: Non-Commercial
You can’t use the work you find – or any derivative of it – commercially.
For a more detailed explanation, head over to the Creative Commons descriptions.
Note that FREE and OPEN are two different things. Free just means you don’t have to pay money to use it, but many free things do not permit you to modify them, and they are still protected under copyright. This is similar to the No Derivatives license in the Creative Commons umbrella.