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Open licensing

Understand open licensing, types of licences, issues and challenges, the impact of open licensing and digitization of intellectual property, as well as different business models associated with open licensing.

Good Stories Don't Grow on Trees: A Guide to Effective Costing of Storybooks in the Global South

Openly licensed resources are ‘free’ to access, but there are significant creation, adaptation, production, and use costs. The long-term sustainability of local-language publishing requires that these costs be met fairly, using financial models that will enable people to establish, grow, and maintain effective content creation organizations. This research aims to raise awareness of the various costs that go into producing and translating storybooks and of the relationship between investment and quality. It also serves to illustrate emerging business models for local organizations creating content using open licensing that funders and governments might wish to fund to support effective early literacy acquisition in developing countries.

Early Literacy and Open Licensing Workshop Report 2018

With funding from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and as part of its work on the early literacy ecosystem and open licensing, Neil Butcher & Associates (NBA) convened a small workshop, which brought together key players in early literacy in Africa. Participants, who came from Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda, represented commercial publishers, NGOs, and other stakeholders working in the early literacy field.

A list of participants and the agenda, including the workshop objectives, can be found at the end of this report. 

Open Licensing Made Plain: A Primer on Concepts, Challenges, and Opportunities for Publishers

Openly licensed resources are ‘free’ to access, but there can be significant user, creation, adaptation, and production costs. The long-term sustainability of African publishing in local languages requires that these costs be met fairly and completely, using models that will encourage people to establish, grow, and sustain excellent content creation organizations. This research will assist content producers to make informed arguments to funders (governments or donors) about the costs associated with open licensing to ensure long-term sustainability of the publishing industry in African countries.
The aim of this primer on open licensing for African publishers is to lay out issues to take into account when considering the use of open licensing in early literacy. 

Elephant in the Room: The Rise of Open Licensing in Early Literacy in Africa

Paper presented at the 2017 Africa regional conference of the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) in August 2017 in Kampala, Uganda.

Two innovations are upending traditional publishing paradigms, digitization and open licensing. Digitization can complement print and, in certain circumstances, may even replace it entirely. Digitization can also shift the burden to print from the publisher to the reader. With digitization, publishers do not incur printing costs, but users of the resource must if they want to read hard copy. Open licensing does not replace copyright, but it does alter the conditions under which copyright is employed. Open licensing is disruptive when it becomes a funder requirement with little or no understanding or input from publishers. Africa needs a vibrant indigenous publishing industry for economic and cultural reasons, which requires an understanding and willingness to work with open licensing concepts. The goal for this paper is to lay out and assess the issues clearly to help publishers and others in the book trade make strategically sensible decisions.

Case Study on Open Licensing of Early Grade Textbooks in Uganda

This case study tells the story of a small Ugandan NGO’s experience using openly licensed government primers to support early primary literacy. Mango Tree Literacy Lab  (MTLL) believes that African children have the right to read, write and engage with ideas in a language they know and understand. MTLL aspires to work side by side with government to ensure successful implementation of innovative education policies, making mistakes and learning within the constraints of real-world challenges. This case study describes how MTLL began to explore how the open licensing of national literacy materials could be harnessed to print additional copies for schools with insufficient numbers of usable primers.

The Use and Dissemination of Openly Licensed Storybooks and Learning Materials by Mango Tree Literacy Lab, Lira, Uganda

Mango Tree Literacy Lab (MTLL) is a Ugandan NGO that believes that African children have the right to read, write and engage with ideas in a language they know and understand. Since 2010, Mango Tree has been supporting early primary literacy in the Lango Sub-region of northern Uganda. This project case study is on the use and dissemination of openly licensed storybooks and learning materials.This project has provided the opportunity to learn about the impact open licensing could have on the distribution of MTLL's literacy materials as well as experiment with establishing a local market for our storybooks through sales by local vendors.

More information about MTLL’s work can be found on its website, as well as on its Facebook page and YouTube channel.

Open Licensing Business Models for Publishers: Evidence from Research

A key barrier to improving children's reading skills is limited or no access to textbooks and reading materials. An open education resource (OER) policy could help progress Early Grade Reading (EGR) efforts and is now a policy requirement for all United States Government-funded projects. Can stakeholders in the book production chain embrace an OER model, finding benefit in the approach for their businesses?

The answers to that question and other related matters are discussed in this webinar (https://youtu.be/-4i98vDuFTk) sponsored by the Global Reading Network (GRN) and its partner, the Global Book Alliance (GBA), for publishers in the African region of the globe on June 27, 2019 and those in the Asian region on July 18, 2019. The webinar focuses on Open Licensing Business Models and is aimed at creators and publishers of children's literature who are exploring the benefits, possibilities, challenges, and limitations of an open licensing business model.

This presentation was done by Neil Butcher.

Good Stories Don’t Grow on Trees: How much does it cost to produce high-quality reading resources?

This presentation was created for the Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA) workshop in Nairobi on National Book and Reading Policies for Africa from 17th to 19th June 2019. The presentation addresses issues related to the cost of storybook creation and adaptation of storybooks. 

Librarians, Communities and Open Licensing: How Do the Pieces Fit Together?

This presentation was delivered delivered on 22 May, 2019 at the 3rd African Library & Information Association (AfLIA) Conference and 5th African Library Summit, held at the Weston Hotel in Nairobi, Kenya. The theme of the conference was ‘African libraries creating the Africa we want and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals’.

This presentation is not a comprehensive review. We are focusing on two areas on which we are working:

  • Collaboration with AfLIA and university librarians by OER Africa, an initiative of Saide
  • Work by Neil Butcher & Associates (NBA) on promoting early literacy in mother-tongue languages
  • Open licensing and the importance of librarians to these efforts tie the two examples together and demonstrate how much librarians can contribute

Open Licensing of Primary Grade Reading Materials: Considerations and Recommendations

Restrictive copyrights can limit how likely reading resources are to be used, shared or repurposed, which significantly diminishes the potential impact of the materials.  Donors and international organizations are increasingly investing in open educational resources, as they are interested in ensuring that educational materials reach the greatest possible number of learners, and that broad access to those materials is not compromised at the conclusion of programs.  

In cooperation with Creative Commons (CC), the Reading within Reach team developed Open Licensing of Primary Grade Reading Materials: Considerations and Recommendations. This new GRN resource provides:

  • An overview of copyright and licensing
  • The benefits of open licenses
  • Guidance on choosing and marking work with open licenses
  • Advice on how to engage stakeholders in selecting an open license
  • A review of open license business models and ways to leverage open licenses

Watch the recent webinars on Open Licensing provided by Global Reading Network: You can access the webinars at the following links: Creative Commons Basics (an overview of Creative Commons and open licensing); Open Licensing Business Models (a look at how publishers in Africa and Asia are incorporating open licensing); and Approaches to Open Licensing for Early Grade Reading Materials (explaining different Creative Commons licenses and previewing the forthcoming resource).

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