Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Open source blogging: Open source content

Leo Babauta, the author of Zen To Done: The Simple Productivity E-Book! is granting full permission to use his content. In his post, Open Source Blogging: Feel Free to Steal My Content, he explains his reasoning with counter arguments. For each of his counter arguments, I offer the positive possibilities of opening educational content for anyone to use without restriction.

LB 1. Google rank will go down. Because Google penalizes pages that have exact duplicates, PageRank may be reduced.

What is the positive? Someone will read our educational material who might not have found it on our web sites.

LB 2. Loss of revenues. ...In this example, thousands of people are reading my work (and learning about Zen Habits) who wouldn’t have otherwise. That’s good for any content creator.

What is the positive? Our reach is extended. Someone who could not afford for the content or someone who was not willing to pay for the content reads the content.

LB 3. Who knows what people will do with your work? Someone could take my work, turn it into a piece of … baloney … and put my name on it. They could translate it with all kinds of errors. They could … well, they could do just about anything. ... that you can’t control it, and even if you can, it’s not a good thing....
What is the positive?

LB... What if someone takes my work and turns it into something brilliant...Or more likely, what if they take the work and extend the concepts and make it even more useful, to even more people? Release control, and see what happens. People are wonderful, creative creatures.
Someone could make our educational content more exciting, interactive, and understandable to audiences that we did not reach with our original content.

LB 4. You’re making other bloggers look bad. Perhaps .. I’m doing it simply to stay in line with my values. And who knows? Maybe others will be inspired by this in some way.
What is the positive? We, as public educators, could be lead the way.

LB 5. What about when you write that print book you’re always talking about? When I get published by a major publisher, I probably won’t be able to release copyright. I accept that as a cost of getting published in print, which is a dream of mine.
What is the positive? We think about all of our content as being open, and the exception is that we copyright only those products that absolutely need copyright (I am not sure what they would be).

LB 6. What if someone publishes a book with all your content and makes a million dollars off it? I hope they at least give me credit. And my deepest desire is that they give some of that money to a good cause.
What is the positive? More people will read our educational content.

LB 7. But … but … they’re stealing from you! You can’t steal what is given freely. I call this sharing, not piracy.
What is the positive? Our educational content gets shared.

Thanks to John Dorner for sharing Open Source Blogging: Feel Free to Steal My Content in his del.icio.us bookmarks.

What are other possibilites?

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