At the OCW Consortium meetings at the Open Education conference in September, I asked whether other OCWs had explicitly CC licensed their metadata. In talking to people then and since then, the general response is best characterized as hemming and hawing. Very folks appear to have considered this licensing status of their metadata. But this seems like a very clear issue to my very simple mind. I mean, what’s the point of creating open access materials if you’re going to hoard your metadata and make it hard for people to find the materials? (This same problem is what seems to have stymied the NSDL for a few years in the early 2000s.)
In thinking about this issue again today, it occurred to me that metadata are derivative works based on the original materials. What this means is that, for those OCW or OER sharing entities that don’t explicitly CC-license their metadata, the community could create metadata based on the materials themselves (to replace the privately-held metadata), which would obviously be a derivative work, and would therefore automatically invoke the Share-Alike clause so many OCW and OER providers use for their materials. And that’s how we get CC-licensed metadata.
Hopefully it doesn’t come to that, and open educational resource providers will do the right thing and save the community the extra work… We’d rather spend our time using the materials in our classrooms or communities than using it to *re*create their *existing* metadata. But the notion of metadata as derivative work seems like an interesting one worth exploring.