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Updating the OpenContent License and
Clarifying a Few Things


17 January 1999 by David Wiley

Coming up on two years of existence, the OpenContent project has seen some successes. We've had media coverage from The Economist, MIT Technology Review, Wired, and Time Magazine's Digital Daily, as well as the ever-popular Slashdot. We've seen several websites pick up the license for their content, ranging from the popular MacOS Rumors to The Japanese History Documentation Project. A classic essay by Alan Cox has joined the ranks, as has more educational material in more content areas than I care to elaborate.

But as in many endeavors, growth brings some pain and also provides opportunities to improve the way we do things.

I would like to recommend to the community that it is time for OpenContent to update its license. There has been some (deserved) confusion between the OpenContent License (OPL, after its original name "OpenContent Principles and License") and the newer, but separate, Open Publication License (also, conveniently, OPL). This confusion provides us with an opportunity to improve what we do by updating and improving, and I would like to suggest unifying, the licenses.

This is entirely a community effort. To give us enough traction to get moving, I'll recommend that we begin our discussions with the Open Publication License (http://opencontent.org/openpub/). What looks good? What needs to be improved? Should the Open Publication License simply be adopted wholesale as the one and only OPL 2.0? Do you like the name Open Publication License? I'm hoping for an initial discussion period of about two months, with the community reaching some consensus and conclusions by around March 1st. This is only a recommendation, of course. Join the listserv and recommend otherwise! If it is true that "given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow," then given enough participation and discussion, we can bring the sensibility of the Open Source movement to the world of "intellectual property."

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