Lisa’s CCK08 Wordpress Blog

November 15, 2008

Openness and . . . wait just a doggarned minute

Filed under: Week 10 — Lisa M Lane @ 6:55 am

This morning an instructor who’s just starting to teach online contacted me. He had been told I was the campus online guru, and wanted to meet with me to discuss ideas and course management systems (our college is currently supporting Blackboard fully, but paying vendors for access to Moodle and ETUDES-NG). Among the many resources I’ve built into our Program for Online Teaching, I thought he might be interested in my EDUCAUSE article on CMSs (it’s not in the big journal, just the little practitioners’ Quarterly). I don’t keep it bookmarked, so I typed the title into Google.

I noticed others had written things about my article, so I started following a few links. I found it on Downes’ column for last May, with some comments I wasn’t aware of. Then I saw a link from British Library Direct. When I followed it I discovered that I’d have to pay a service charge, plus VAT if applicable, for the full text of the article. For me in the US, that’s £8.75 for immediate download.

I had been paid nothing for writing the article, and here this outfit is making money providing it to others. It is available free in both html and pdf forms from the EDUCAUSE website itself, so it’s not like it’s a restricted item of some kind. When I wrote it, I knew I was doing it for free, but wanted to share. It never occurred to me that anyone outside the organization asking me to write it would get paid for my work.

During our UStream discussion yesterday (thanks to Kristina for posting it), it was mentioned that Bradley Shoebottom had said something about making money off of open source. I misunderstood that, having not yet read Bradley’s post, and when I hit British Library Direct, I thought: “This is how people make money off of opennness!” They dupe people into believing that the article is accessible only through them, and charge for it. I wrote the article intending it to be free and open, and someone else has stolen it, in a sense, by trapping it.

If they’re doing it with my little article, then right now, people must be taking all kinds of free and open work, and charging for access to it. What kind of walls will our content be behind, without us even knowing it?



  1. That is strange Lisa – your article appears to be CC licensed “The text of this article is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 license (” copied from your article.

    Comment by Frances Bell — November 15, 2008 @ 8:19 am

  2. OOps – pressed send too quickly. What exactly constitutes commercial, I wonder? I notice that Educause let you order a print copy, at a charge. How cand British Library charge for an electronic copy and still comply with the license?

    Comment by Frances Bell — November 15, 2008 @ 8:22 am

  3. Does British Library recognize CC protocols? They should, but it’s not a given. Is CC enforceable in a courth in England & Wales? And who would pay to bring a case to stop someone charging for something, rather than the usual bringing a case to stop someone distributing it for free? What a tangled web we weave…

    Comment by Ed Webb — November 15, 2008 @ 9:07 am

  4. > “This is how people make money off of opennness!” They dupe people into believing that the article is accessible only through them, and charge for it. I wrote the article intending it to be free and open, and someone else has stolen it, in a sense, by trapping it.

    That’s exactly why I add the ‘non-commercial’ clause to my license. It’s not that they’re charging epopel for it, it’s that they set up this situation where (apparently) the *only* way to access it is to pay for it.

    Comment by Stephen Downes — November 15, 2008 @ 9:57 am

  5. Thanks, Lisa, for pointing this out. I’d never heard of this “new service.” A quick search of British Library Direct returned numerous EDUCAUSE articles (including Stephen’s from 2004) that this service is charging people to download — clearly ignoring the “non-commercial” clause. I’ll investigate further and get back to you.

    Comment by Teddy Diggs, EDUCAUSE REVIEW publisher/editor — November 15, 2008 @ 10:25 am

  6. I’ll be really interested to hear the outcome of this. In investigating the use of CC-licensing recently, I notice that you now choose the license according to country (jurisdiction?). So what’s the status of ,say, a USA CC license in UK and vice versa?

    Comment by Frances Bell — November 16, 2008 @ 3:50 am

  7. Lisa,

    Missed the UStream on Friday, but intend to listen to it after Assignment 3 is over.

    I have an example of abuse of open sources. My MA thesis at UNB in 1999 was provided to the National Library of Canada. They microfiche it to make it available to all scholars . THE NLC is a federal institution, wholly paid for by our tax dollars. In 2000, the NLC decided to outsource the reproduction services of the Thesis branch. UNI (University of Michigan) won the rights. My thesis now sells for $39.95 if requested from them. (THE NLC used to charge a much more modest fee, based on cost recovery). I do not see a dime, and UNB which sponsored the project, does not see a dime. After finding that out, I put a restriction on my thesis which is common for those trying to publish it. I never lifted the restriction and I suspect it has expired. (I sold baout 40 reproduced harcopie sof my thesis in the last 10 years but no one has asked for it for the last year so I figure I have milked that one. Oh, by the way, I only charged for the photocopy materials and 15 minutes time to put it together.) To circumvent UMIs stranglehold on the “open source” side of my thesis, I plan on posting my thesis to my profile on as soon as Assignemnt 3 is over.

    Comment by Bradley Shoebottom — November 16, 2008 @ 2:18 pm

  8. […] The Daily linked to a number of reflective pieces later in the week. Mrs Durff looked at learning, chunking and reflecting. (I noticed her Voki, I am wondering how to change mine.) This paper discussed Latin characteristics of education and training. Adrian brought another perspective to educare. Matthias looked at openness here. Lisa explored resistance, reassessment and retooling. (Later in the week she posted on Openness.) […]

    Pingback by CCK08: Week 10 Wild Flower Garden « Clyde Street — November 16, 2008 @ 8:45 pm

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