Open Courseware and Open Scientific Publications

Frederik Questier, Wim Jan Schreurs

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterResearchpeer-review


Copyright law was originally designed "for the encouragement of learn-
ing" and "to promote the progress of science and useful arts". Authors
received a protection against unauthorised copying and plagiarism for a
limited period, before their works were passed into the public domain.
In recent decades there has been a shift from the right to protect a
work against unauthorised "use" towards a right to prevent others from
unauthorised access to it. This shift is, among other things, supported by a
copyright protection against the circumvention of technological measures
intended to protect the works, and by the 'legal support' afforded by other
intellectual property rights such as sui generis database protection law.
As a result, the 'fair use' exception, and the exceptions for educational
and scientific purposes, which used to be accepted in almost all countries,
are endangered in today's information society. Moreover, the technologi-
cal move to e-books and digital rights management systems contributes
to this endangerment of the fair use and educational exceptions.
It is often hard to find good and freely reusable educational material,
but as teachers and scientists are themselves the most important authors
of the works they and their students need, the solution is in their own
hands. Thanks to new copyright licence models - such as the Creative
Commons licence - inspired by free software licences, authors themselves
can define access and distribution rules which are more suitable for pro-
moting the progress of science and art than the default copyright laws.
Promoting wide redistribution helps authors to spread their knowledge
and to gain recognition, which is what most educational and scientific
authors want. Authors who do not want others to walk away with com-
mercial profits from their works can still forbid any non-agreed commer-
cial redistribution.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology started a new trend by pub-
lishing their course material as Open Courseware under the Creative Com-
mons licence. Projects such as the open and community-driven online
encyclopedia Wikipedia (larger than any commercial encyclopedia) prove
that free licences work where copyrights fail.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHow open is the future? Economic, Social & Cultural Scenarios based on Free & Open Source Software
EditorsM. Wynants, J. Cornelis
Number of pages22
ISBN (Print)978-90-5487-378-5
Publication statusPublished - 2005

Publication series

NameHow open is the future? Economic, Social & Cultural Scenarios based on Free & Open Source Software

Bibliographical note

QUESTIER, F., SCHREURS, W., 'Open Courseware and Open Scientific Publications' in WYNANTS, M. & CORNELIS, J. (Eds.) How Open is the Future? Economic, Social and Cultural Scenarios inspired by Free and Open Source Software, Brussels – Univer
Series editor: M. Wynants and J. Cornelis


  • copyright
  • open scientific publications
  • open courseware
  • creative commons


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