Many people are aware of the copyleft movement for media, software and documentation, including things like open-source and creative commons licenses. The general thrust is to keep the work free from being copyrighted by any one entity. To that end, these licenses usually include a stipulation that the work is free to be modified or adapted only into works with similar licenses to the first. However, these licenses don’t have to exclude commercial uses or sale of the product, even if this might be the practical outcome.
What if we created a sort of Catholic “creative commons” licensed learning material for homeschooling parents and schools that didn’t actually cost anything in terms of licensing and was designed, from the start, to be owned by all the faithful?
Kind of like the GNU Free Documentation License or some of the creative commons licenses, but for things like catechesis and Church history/theology/philosophy, the civic life of the Catholic, and so on? There’s no reason it would have to be limited to these areas of course, but these might be the most relevant.
Now the next points might not be fully agreeable (they hold variable favor with me), but I do think it that each is worth considering.
- Stipulation that everything in the piece of work be left up to the judgment of the Church
- Stipulation of circumstances under which printed copies of the material could or could not be sold
- Stipulation of how much of the work (outside of usual fair use) would be allowed to be incorporated into a work not falling under the same license
- A common agreement on citation format, or at least a common agreement on what items should be acquired
- A common agreement on which sources should or should not be cited
- Perhaps a stipulation as to when/how the terms of the license can be updated
Of course, without any of these points, one should maybe just use an existing open-source/creative commons license.
Perhaps such a license could provide a framework for the lay faithful (perhaps with the help of some interested priests and professional theologians to for pastoral guidance and orthodoxy) to crowd-source with each other and come up with better resources that would not cost a lot of money to use. If a project like this ever got big enough, maybe some of the licensed materials could even be reviewed by a diocese or two for the relevant seals.
Anyway, that’s an initial proposal. I’m not a lawyer and I work with open-source projects mainly as an end-user, so there are maybe 1,000 details I could have worked out better. Suggestions for my overly idealistic dream are welcome.