Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Friday, May 26, 2006

What counts as an open business?

Open Business is --openly-- seeking help in defining what counts as an open business.

We started Openbusiness to share knowledge about business models that give a substantial portion of their main product away for free. By “free” we meant free as in “freedom” and also as in “free beer”, paraphrasing Richard Stallman....Putting it into one sentence for an unusual business advice: The more you give, the more you get! Giving away lots makes sense, because only then people will use your content, see you, recognize you. This is why Creative Commons now looks like a rational option for many artists, content creators, authors, photographers or even established media businesses....

For more than a decade we have known that the Internet reduces substantially transaction costs and because of this services like ebay could emerge. They connect thousands of sellers with potential buyers for even the most unlikely products (what has now become famous as the so-called “long tail theory), something that was logistically impossible in the physical-distribution environment....

[O]pen business models [are often] built around participatory architectures, where co-creation and collaboration are the norm and not the exception....[But] MySpace – one of the best known ‘open’ platforms for sharing content and information - recently changed its copyright policy following acquisition by Murdoch. Today everything which is uploaded to the site, your pictures, movies and recordings belongs, legally at least, to them. This position is clearly in opposition to some of the benefits sought by loosening intellectual property restrictions. The definition of ‘open’ also depends, in this regard, on encouraging communities which are sustainable.

There is also another aspect of how “Openess” changes the way business operates: Big industrial organisational models which were made for the era of mass-media and mass-production make no sense anymore. An online record label run by a staff of three can perform similar functions to a big record label run by hundreds of people. New organizational forms, new management styles and cultural norms are emerging, as well as new revenue models. But are these businesses more ethical, because they can re-distribute more, or radically reduce the costs of publishing making access to educational resources much cheaper?

If you have a comment or discussion that you would like to contribute we would love to hear from you!