Department of Education Announces “First In the World” Grants to Create Openly Licensed Learning Materials

Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Education announced the awarding of $75 million in educational grants to 24 universities through its First in the World (FITW) program.  FITW provides “grants to institutions of higher education to spur the development of innovations that improve educational outcomes and make college more affordable for students and families, and to develop an evidence base of effective practices.”

The FITW program includes the requirement that any works created with its funds be made available under an open license.  The requirement reads:

To ensure that the Federal investment of these funds has as broad an impact as possible and to encourage innovation in the development of new learning materials, FITW grantees will be required to license to the public all intellectual property … created with the support of grant funds, including both new content created with grant funds and modifications made to pre-existing, grantee-owned content using grant funds. That license must be worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable, and grant the public permission to access, reproduce, publicly perform, publicly display, adapt, distribute, and otherwise use the intellectual property referenced above… for any purposes, conditioned only on the requirement that attribution be given to authors as designated.

The FITW grant announcement came right on the heels of the Department of Labor’s fourth round of grant awards through its Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) program.  The TAACCCT grants are given to community colleges and other institutions to expand and create education and career training programs, and include a similar requirement for the open licensing of works created with government funding.

CCUSA is highly supportive of the licensing requirements in both FITW and TAACCCT, which will allow people to share and build upon the works created through federal funding.  We hope future federal funding programs will adopt similar licensing requirements.

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