If you believe, like many, that academic publishers like Elsevier are evil, you may want to upgrade your opinion of Elsevier itself to “small but definitely non-zero chance that this organization is not evil.” According to a joint release from MIT and Elsevier:
In a move to encourage open education, MIT OpenCourseWare (OCW) and Elsevier have agreed to make available figures and text selections from any of Elsevier’s more than 2,000 journal titles for use on OCW. As a result of this landmark agreement, select Elsevier content can now be included within the open access OCW course materials – to be freely downloaded, used and shared under a Creative Commons license.
And while you would expect Elsevier to choose CC By-NC-ND as the license under which they distribute materials, I am impressed to say that they have have instead chosen CC By-NC-SA. (Insert NC rant here if you feel it absolutely necessary. I’ll wait. Finished?) In theory, the deal is only for MIT OCW right now, but once any of that material is licensed CC By-NC-SA, that horse is permanently out of the barn.
We’ll see where this goes; but wherever it goes, good for Elsevier. I can’t believe I just typed those words…