If your tax dollars help create a resource, shouldn't it be shared freely? Yes, of course, but that's not always the case. Creative Commons is doing something about this with their Open Licensing Policy Toolkit to “support the education of government staff creating, adopting and implementing open licensing policies.”

With open licensing, resources that are created with public dollars are available to citizens to use and build upon. As the introduction to the Toolkit states:

"The American people deserve open access to federally funded digital educational, training, and informational materials because they paid for them with tax dollars. By requiring the recipients of federal funds to release publicly funded resources with an open copyright license — and provide support for the efficient use of openly licensed material — we will improve the quality of vital public services and make them more cost efficient. We can ensure that the billions of taxpayer dollars invested in the creation of educational materials produce resources that are freely and legally available to the public to use, share, and build upon."

Created wiki-style, the current draft of the Toolkit is open to anyone to improve and modify it. While tailored for U.S. government federal staff, it can be revised to meet local, regional, or national needs of any community or country.

Tools available in the ever-growing Toolkit are:

  • An overview of why open licensing policy is needed
  • An introduction to copyright and open licensing
  • How other agencies use open licensing and what can be learned from them
  • How to write your open licensing policy
  • How to add the policy to your grant and contract boilerplates
  • How to train your agency team
  • How to educate your grantees and contractors
  • How to provide and promote free online access to open resources
  • How to build community around open resources
  • How to promote collaboration within and across agencies

You can start contributing to the two different versions of the toolkit here: [Wiki version] [Google docs version


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Cat Johnson


Cat Johnson | |

Cat Johnson is a writer and content strategist focused on coworking, collaboration and community. She's the author of Coworking Out Loud, a guide to content marketing for coworking space operators. Publications include Yes! Magazine,

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