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Get a Clue: Figuring Out What is Open...


Now that you have been introduced to the broad range of content that can be considered open, it is important to recognize the details that can help you navigate them. These clues and tools can help you determine whether some of that online content is, in fact, open, how you can use it, and if there are any restrictions.

1. Ways to Spot Open Content

  • Use this resource: Recognizing Licensed Works to spot key factors that can help you determine whether content is CC Licensed. Where else can you think of putting license information on a website or a blog? Add other recommendations in the comments below.
  • Search for specific terms on the page. If you press Control + F you can type in terms to search for. Look for "Creative Commons", "Copyright", "Open" etc. to locate information that might help you here.
  • Search websites for a terms of use link or page. This can generally be found at the bottom of the page or near a copyright statement. 


2. Determine Whether the Resource is Open

Look at three or more of the sources below and determine where on the spectrum of open vs. non-open they sit.

Public Library of Science


New York Times

Al Jazeera

Huffington Post


Mobile Active

MIT Open CourseWare

3. Why Open Resources?

Now that you have explored a few resources and have a better sense of identifying open and non-open content, here is a series of case studies conducted by Creative Commons on licensed websites and projects. Explore two or three of these broad range of case studies on open content. Looking at these resources can give you a better idea of why people choose to license works and how it might impact their community and field.

Cory Doctorow

Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, Australia

Nine Inch Nails The Slip


University of Michigan Library

OR view The Power of Open Epublication and pick a few cases from there. 

Share and Discuss!

Now that you have been given tools to help you determine open vs. non open content and you looked at a variety of sources and topics that ranged on the spectrum of open and non open, share your thoughts with others in a blog post, social media, or in person. 

Consider some of these questions for blog topics or conversation starters: 

  • What thought-provoking or interesting ideas stuck out in these resources? 
  • How does open content and Creative Commons licensing influence your work?
  • How are different types of media valued as open content?

Who should you ask? Anyone. If you're a librarian, ask your fellow librarians. If you're a student ask your teachers or peers. If you're a teacher, ask your students! There are no limits, but let us know who you asked and what they said.

Once you have initiated a discussion or shared some new interesting facts you have learned with others, share the link to your post and/or reflections here.

Were others surprised by an interesting fact? Curious to learn more about what you shared with them?


Conduct your own case study. Follow the general template of the Creative Commons ones above. 

  • Pick an organization, individual, community, or resource you are familiar with or want to learn more about. Make sure the organization is using and supporting open content in its mission or in the activities it engages in. 
  • Highlight their license usage and  commitment to openness.
  • Research their motivations, choices, and mission and values. 
  • Highlight how their activity is impacting openness, education, and the digital community. 
  • Share their resources you explored and used to create your case study. 

Share it below or post it on your blog and share the link!


Task Discussion

  • v4lent1na   March 24, 2013, 7:16 a.m.

    1. Another place you would find copyright info on a website would be a static page called copyright. Some websites I visited had their copyright info or cc license explained in such a page. A creative writing blog I follow has both a page where the terms of the cc license are explained and the cc license itself placed in the footer.

    2. PLOS uses the CC Attribution License. It means that "Anyone may copy, distribute, or reuse these articles for any purpose, as long as the author and original source are properly cited." 
    Wikipedia uses the CC Attribution-ShareAlike License. It means that when one wants to reuse or redistribute content from Wikipedia has to quote the source and apply the same license.
    HuffingtonPost says All rights reserved. No openness whatsoever.

    3. I'm working on the blog post. I'll share it later when I've written it by editing this post. For now, I'll move on the next task. 


    EDIT: the blog post -

  • marcmars   March 17, 2013, 3:01 a.m.

    OK so people that work hard on publications, intelectual property and the like may want to keep it closed source. Others may want to share it with the world and make it open source. I am learning the different levels of Creative Commons.