Launch of the Open Policy Network

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May 19, 2014

As an organization working on open access policy for more than a decade, we’ve seen the movement grow in so many positive ways — most notably, the number and diversity of organizations who are actively collaborating in this space. Today, I’m very pleased to announce SPARC’s participation in the new Open Policy Network (OPN). OPN is a coalition of organizations and individuals working to support the creation, adoption, and implementation of policies that require that resources produced by public funds are openly licensed.

Governments around the world are sharing huge amounts of publicly funded research, data, and educational materials. As this information is made public, we find ourselves asking: do the policies governing the distribution of publicly funded materials truly ensure that maximum benefits accrue to the citizens those policies are meant to serve? One way to ensure this is through the use of open licenses. If licenses that promote full accessibility and utility of publicly funded resources are required from the onset, we have the potential to greatly increase the value of a wide range of materials, from educational content like digital textbooks, to articles reporting on the results of scholarly research, to treasure troves of public sector data.

SPARC believes that that there is a pressing need for education, advocacy, and action to see a positive shift in supporting open licensing for publicly funded materials. The Open Policy Network will help fill this need, sharing information amongst its members, recruiting new advocates, and engaging with policymakers worldwide. We're heartened to note that even in this beginning stage, OPN members are diverse in content area expertise and geographic location.

The mission of the Open Policy Network is complementary to the work SPARC has successfully spearheaded over the last decade through coalition work with the Open Access Working Group and the Alliance for Taxpayer Access. It’s also broad in scope, encompassing Open Data and Open Educational Resources, which aligns with our growing portfolio. We’re delighted to have the opportunity to join forces with the other prominent organizations focused on open policy issues who bring a wealth of expertise to the table in these program areas.

Along with today’s launch, we’re also announcing SPARC's participation in the Open Policy Network's first project, the Institute for Open Leadership. Through a weeklong summit with experts, accepted fellows will get hands-on guidance to develop a capstone project for implementation in their organization or institution. The Institute for Open Leadership will help train new leaders in education, science, and public policy fields on the values and implementation of openness in licensing, policies, and practices. More information about the Institute and how to apply will be available on the OPN and SPARC websites shortly.

International collaboration is vital to the continued success of the "Open" movement. SPARC is pleased to be participating as founding member, and encourages other groups with interests in promoting open policies to joining as well.

The OPN is free to join — more information is available at the website, Google Group, Twitter, and Facebook.

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