MissionHistoryRationaleGuiding PrinciplesMember OrganizationsJoin


The mission of the Open Policy Network is to foster the creation, adoption and implementation of open policies and practices that advance the public good by supporting open policy advocates, organizations and policy makers, connecting open policy opportunities with assistance, and sharing open policy information.


In 2011-2012, Creative Commons (CC) and other open organizations were contacted by multiple institutions and governments seeking assistance to develop materials and strategies for open policies. The need for open policy support was amplified at the CC 2011 Global Summit in Warsaw, Poland. CC Affiliates from 35 countries called for a central hub where open policies could be shared and discussed. They were clear: without clearly defined support, open policies are significantly less likely to be introduced and adopted. In October 2012 Creative Commons continued this exploration by convening a meeting of “open” leaders to brainstorm possibilities and challenges in developing resources and services to increase open policies.

As open advocates, organizations and policy makers recognize the potential for open policies to significantly increase the amount and quality of publicly funded education, research, data, and software, there is a pressing need to provide them support so they can successfully create, adopt and implement open policies. Open policies promote open licensing of resources financed through public funding in order to maximize the impact of the investment.

Open Policy = publicly funded resources are openly licensed resources.

If we are going to unleash the power of hundreds of billions of dollars of publicly funded education, research, data, and software, we need broad adoption of open policies. For the purposes of open policies that contribute to the public good, we define policy broadly as legislation, institutional policies, and/or funder mandates.

We have observed that current open policy efforts are decentralized, uncoordinated and insular; there is poor and/or sporadic information sharing. There are at least two major barriers that have prevented broad open policy adoption. (1) There is limited support for open policy advocates, organizations and policy makers who want to create, adopt and implement open policies. (2) Existing policy makers need help in articulating and messaging how open policies can increase the impact of public investments.

The open community needs access to existing open policies, legislation, and action plans for how open policies were created, discussed and passed. Advocates need to know what barriers were encountered and how they were overcome, and because politics and opportunities are local, open advocates may need support customizing an open policy solution and strategy.

If we get this simple idea right, open sustainability could cease to be an issue because: (a) there is plenty of public funding to build and maintain all of the education, research, data, and software the world needs, and (b) “open” becomes the default and “closed” becomes the exception for publicly funded resources.

Rationale  Back to top

Open policies promote access to, and open licensing of, resources financed through public funding. Open policies can maximize the impact of public investments in science, data, education, libraries, archives, museums, software and other resources through the efficient use and reuse of resources for the public good. The Open Policy Network (OPN) supports the creation, adoption and implementation of open policies around the world. It does this by:

  • mapping the open policy space across open sectors;
  • identifying open policy gaps and opportunities within and across sectors;
  • communicating the social and economic value of open policy;
  • networking together those trying to develop open policies with organizations, communities and individuals who have open policy expertise; and
  • curating case studies and open policy exemplars for others to use or adapt.

In addition to supporting the creation, adoption and implementation of open policies, it is equally as important to support the updating of existing policy frameworks, so open policies can be effective and long-lasting. Existing policies need to be reviewed and modified as needed to support the implementation of open policies. For example, an open policy that leads to the creation of new open textbooks is less impactful if textbook procurement policies do not allow schools to adopt open textbooks.

Open policy advocates need to present a coordinated case to policymakers that 21st century legal and technical tools can be used to significantly improve the effectiveness of investments in publicly funded resources. The global reach and increasing speed and bandwidth of the Internet; the decreasing cost of hardware and near zero costs of digital storage, copying and distribution; open licensing, and the popularity of mobile devices is making accessibility to digital content universally possible. When policy makers understand the power of open policies, they can avoid the lock-in of stale frameworks and existing financial models, so they can maximize the positive societal impact of publicly funded resources.

Guiding Principles  Back to top

The adoption of open policies can maximize the return on public investments and promote a global commons of resources for innovative reuse.
Publicly funded resources should be openly licensed resources.

Open policies should require, as a default, licenses compliant with the Open Definition, with a preference for open licenses that at most require attribution to the author (such as CC BY) for publicly funded content and no rights reserved (such as CC0) for publicly funded data. OPN recognizes there may be limited exceptions to the default.

The OPN is a open network free for anyone to join as long as they agree to contribute and abide by the mission and guiding principles.
The OPN work is aligned with the recommendations of:

Member Organizations  Back to top

(List of orgs that have signed an MOU, show logo and list “related projects” if desired – those could be linked to, briefly described, in the member description.)

Join the Network   Back to top

Participation Agreement

I/We [enter individual or organizational name] agree to:

  • support the “Guiding Principles”, “Work Plan”, and “Member Expectations” as described below;
  • participate in the OPN email listserv and share information related to open policies as appropriate;
  • attend monthly strategy/planning conference calls; and
  • have my name and/or organization name listed on the Open Policy Network website, to be created at http://www.openpolicynetwork.org;

Guiding Principles

Work Plan

  • Connect policy makers and other interested parties to expert open policy advocates and organizations who are able to provide assistance and support when open policy opportunities arise.
  • Identify and build new open policy resources and/or services only where capacity and expertise does not currently exist, by providing needed resources, information and advice.
  • Provide a baseline level of assistance for open policy opportunities as they arise, to ensure no open policy opportunity goes unfulfilled.
  • Link to, catalog and curate existing and new open policies and open policy resources from around the world.
  • Connect open policy advocates and organizations on a listserv and monthly phone conference to maximize knowledge transfer and cooperation.
  • Build new constituencies and advocates in support of open policies.
  • Operate in a manner respectful of member organizations’ existing messaging, communities and business models.
  • Release all content produced by the OPN under CC BY and data under CC0, in a fully transparent manner on the OPN web site.
  • Release all content produced by the OPN, including the OPN website, under multiple languages.

Member Expectations

  • You agree to abide by the Privacy Policy located at http://openpolicynetwork.org/. Among other things, that policy requires that you not use or disclose any information collected via the http://openpolicynetwork.org website except as expressly stated therein.
  • You agree to abide by the Terms of Use located at and http://openpolicynetwork.org/terms. Among other things, that policy requires that you not share information with the OPN that you are not allowed to share for any reason, including because of a confidentiality agreement or because the information is otherwise restricted.
  • Creative Commons reserves the right to end your participation in the Open Policy Network if you do not comply with these Member Expectations or the policies referenced herein.
  • This Participation Agreement may be modified by Creative Commons from time to time in its discretion. Creative Commons will provide prior notice of material modifications to then-current members no less than 30 days in advance of the effectiveness of those modifications. If you remain a member of the OPN as of the effective date, you are bound by the modified Participation Agreement.

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