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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.

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).

What makes a Great Translation?

If you are planning to translate a storybook from one language to another, then these recommendations are for you. They offer helpful ideas on how to ensure the final story in the new language is high quality. A high-quality translation is one that was not necessarily translated word-for-word, but that retains the meaning and sensibility of the original story in the new language. At the same time, the new story may adjust to the specifics of a new language (e.g. the complexity of certain words), as well as the cultural context that comes with the new language. Essentially, translating is creating a new version of a story in another language.

High quality translations are important because they hold the power to create more quality stories for children to read. This is valuable especially in languages where written stories are scarce. In South Africa, the publishing industry focuses on Afrikaans and English, while African-language storybooks remain few. With quality translations, however, a publisher, NGO, writer or others can take a single written story and multiply it into more.

These recommendations were created through the Results in Education for All Children (REACH) Project and funded by the REACH trust fund at the World Bank and the Global Book Alliance. The goal of the REACH Project is to impact the children’s storybook industry in South Africa to ensure all children have exciting stories to read.

Report on a Workshop on Open Licensing and Digital Disruption in Early Literacy in the Developing World

In 2015, NBA received a grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation to explore the potential for open licensing in enhancing the availability of mother-tongue early-literacy reading resources in the developing world. This research covered the impact of open licensing on the early reader ecosystem, emerging innovations, and the implications for the supply and use of early literacy reading materials in low income countries. In late 2016, NBA received a follow-on grant to continue this work and carry out both desk case studies and action research in a few countries. The work being carried out by NBA complements the Global Book Alliance (GBA), which is led by the US Agency for International Development and other donors. The GBA is a multi-stakeholder, international effort to transform book development, procurement, distribution and usage to get books for more children, through new solutions and innovations.

As part of the NBA grant, this workshop brought together key players in the field as part of the process, to create a forum for key players in early literacy from the global South to exchange ideas and develop a shared action research agenda for open licensing in early literacy.

Pragmatic Approaches to Open Licensing: A presentation

Pragmatic Approaches to Open Licensing: Is revenue generation possible? This presentation was created for the Association for the Development in Africa (ADEA) and Global Book Alliance Seminar on Open Licensing in Accra, Ghana on 2 September, 2018.

Open Licensing and Publishing in Africa: A presentation

Open Licensing and Publishing in Africa: What is open licensing and why is it topical to authors, publishers and illustrators? This presentation was created for the Association for the Development in Africa (ADEA) and Global Book Alliance Seminar on Open Licensing in Accra, Ghana on 2 September, 2018.

ADEA GBA Report on the Regional Workshop for African Book Industry Stakeholders: 22-25 January, 2018

The Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA), through its Working Group on Books and Learning Materials (WGBLM), teamed up with the Global Book Alliance (GBA) to dialogue with African book industry stakeholders about publishing and use of materials in mother-tongue languages, and to come up with a way forward. The dialogue focused on how to ensure sustainable book provision for children in lower primary schools by improving the creation, production, access, distribution and use of books in local languages.

Seventy key stakeholders in the African book publishing industry, representing eleven Francophone, ten Anglophone, one Lusophone country, as well as twelve representatives of development partners, held a high-level technical meeting to: (i) present the GBA’s mission, vision, objectives, strategies; (ii) strengthen local coordination of major stakeholders (writers, publishers, booksellers, and reading specialists); and (iii) improve local coordination and policy dialogue between governments and book professionals in implementing book provision.

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