Last week saw the launch of a new biannual online journal called The Public Policy and Governance Review. Started by students and faculty from universities across Canada the journal seeks to inject some new ideas and thoughts into the public policy sphere.
I would argue that it already has.
Check out this paragraph from its “About Us” page.
The Public Policy and Governance Review is in the business of promoting ideas and is not interested in proprietary rights. We believe that authors deserve credit for their work and that using any intellectual material warrants referencing, but other than that, we hope that the ideas published in the PPGR disseminate well beyond the confines of this website. As such and as a matter of principle, the Public Policy and Governance Review uses a less-restrictive licensing agreement for publication than traditional copyright. We publish as much of the PPGR as possible under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivative Works license. This is a licensing agreement that relaxes some of the restrictions associated with traditional copyright and allows our readers to distribute material more easily. It allows authors’ works to be freely reproduced for non-commercial purposes as long as the work is not modified and attribution is maintained.
Take note – these are Masters of Public Policy and Governance students and they have chosen to use a Creative Commons license – not copyright – for their journal. Note that they WANT others to re-post and comment on the material on blogs and other sites. This is a journal interested in using the most modern technology and legal tools to do what all journals start off wanting to do: initiating interesting conversation and spreading ideas.
This alone should make senior public servants take notice. If you are a senior public servant and you think debates over copyright don’t matter to you… your next hire (and ultimately, your successor) thinks differently.
Two additional asides:
First, for real copyright geeks that are wondering, yes I actually think they should have allowed attributed derivative works… since, well, all works are derivative works of something – nothing is completely original – but, well, one step at a time I suppose.
Second, before the launch of the first edition of the Public Policy and Governance Review the editors sat down and interviewed me on the future of the public service. You can read the interview here (pdf).