icon_607MissionHistoryRationaleGuiding PrinciplesMember OrganizationsJoinGovernance


The mission of the Open Policy Network is to foster the creation, adoption and implementation of open policies and practices that advance the public good by supporting open policy advocates, organizations and policy makers, connecting open policy opportunities with assistance, and sharing open policy information.


In 2011-2012, Creative Commons (CC) and other open organizations were contacted by multiple institutions and governments seeking assistance to develop materials and strategies for open policies. The need for open policy support was amplified at the CC 2011 Global Summit in Warsaw, Poland. CC Affiliates from 35 countries called for a central hub where open policies could be shared and discussed. They were clear: without clearly defined support, open policies are significantly less likely to be introduced and adopted. In October 2012 Creative Commons continued this exploration by convening a meeting of “open” leaders to brainstorm possibilities and challenges in developing resources and services to increase open policies.

As open advocates, organizations and policy makers recognize the potential for open policies to significantly increase the amount and quality of publicly funded education, research, data, and software, there is a pressing need to provide them support so they can successfully create, adopt and implement open policies. Open policies promote open licensing of resources financed through public funding in order to maximize the impact of the investment.

Open Policy = publicly funded resources are openly licensed resources.

If we are going to unleash the power of hundreds of billions of dollars of publicly funded education, research, data, and software, we need broad adoption of open policies. For the purposes of open policies that contribute to the public good, we define policy broadly as legislation, institutional policies, and/or funder mandates.

We have observed that current open policy efforts are decentralized, uncoordinated and insular; there is poor and/or sporadic information sharing. There are at least two major barriers that have prevented broad open policy adoption. (1) There is limited support for open policy advocates, organizations and policy makers who want to create, adopt and implement open policies. (2) Existing policy makers need help in articulating and messaging how open policies can increase the impact of public investments.

The open community needs access to existing open policies, legislation, and action plans for how open policies were created, discussed and passed. Advocates need to know what barriers were encountered and how they were overcome, and because politics and opportunities are local, open advocates may need support customizing an open policy solution and strategy. If we get this simple idea right, we can create a more efficient and sustainable system for publicly funded educational resources, scholarly research, data, and software.

Rationale  Back to top

Open policies promote access to, and open licensing of, resources financed through public funding. Open policies can maximize the impact of public investments in science, data, education, libraries, archives, museums, software and other resources through the efficient use and reuse of resources for the public good. The Open Policy Network (OPN) supports the creation, adoption and implementation of open policies around the world. It does this by:

  • mapping the open policy space across open sectors;
  • identifying open policy gaps and opportunities within and across sectors;
  • communicating the social and economic value of open policy;
  • networking together those trying to develop open policies with organizations, communities and individuals who have open policy expertise; and
  • curating case studies and open policy exemplars for others to use or adapt.

In addition to supporting the creation, adoption and implementation of open policies, it is equally as important to support the updating of existing policy frameworks, so open policies can be effective and long-lasting. Existing policies need to be reviewed and modified as needed to support the implementation of open policies. For example, an open policy that leads to the creation of new open textbooks is less impactful if textbook procurement policies do not allow schools to adopt open textbooks.

Open policy advocates need to present a coordinated case to policymakers that 21st century legal and technical tools can be used to significantly improve the effectiveness of investments in publicly funded resources. The global reach and increasing speed and bandwidth of the Internet; the decreasing cost of hardware and near zero costs of digital storage, copying and distribution; open licensing, and the popularity of mobile devices is making accessibility to digital content universally possible. When policy makers understand the power of open policies, they can avoid the lock-in of stale frameworks and existing financial models, so they can maximize the positive societal impact of publicly funded resources.

Guiding Principles  Back to top

Member Organizations  Back to top

Join the Network   Back to top

Membership Terms:

  1. Read and agree to the Guiding Principles and Work Plan;
  2. Sign up for and participate in the OPN email listserv and share information related to open policies as appropriate;
  3. Attend monthly strategy / planning conference calls; and
  4. Send an email to opn@creativecommons.org with your organization’s name to be added to the Membership list.

Governance Back to top

The Open Policy Network (OPN) is a coalition of individuals, organizations, and other entities who have mutually agreed to the OPN Participation Agreement. The mission of the Open Policy Network is to foster the creation, adoption and implementation of open policies and practices that advance the public good by supporting open policy advocates, organizations and policy makers, connecting open policy opportunities with assistance, and sharing open policy information. OPN’s Activities will be conducted in accordance with the Work Plan.

The OPN is a collaboration and set of coordination actions of its members and not a formal legal entity in any jurisdiction.

Membership in OPN is open to any individual, organization, company, or other entity. One becomes an OPN Member by agreeing to the OPN Participation Agreement. Membership is optional and at will, and OPN Members may end their membership at any time. An OPN Member is considered active if it either attends an OPN monthly call or contacts the Chair of the Steering Committee in writing at least once per calendar year. Members who do not meet this criteria will be considered inactive as of January 1 of the following year, but may reactivate at any time. Inactive members will be marked as such on any membership lists, including the OPN website.

General discussions take place on the OPN Google group mailing list. Anyone may join this list.

OPN conference calls will take place monthly and are open to all OPN members and invited guests. By default, the calls will be scheduled for the first Monday of every month. Agenda and call-in information will usually be circulated the week before the call. Any OPN member may suggest additions to the call agenda. Minutes from the call will be recorded and distributed to the membership via the email list (see OPN meetings and minutes).

OPN Members may publish relevant blog posts to the OPN website. In order to do so, they need to request a WordPress login and must ask at least one other OPN Member to review the post before publishing on the website.

OPN Members who are organizations, companies, or other incorporated entities are considered Voting Members. OPN Members who are individual persons are not Voting Members.

All votes take place during OPN’s monthly call. Voting Members may cast their votes either by sending a representative to the monthly call or by registering their vote in advance by e-mail with the Chair of the Steering Committee. Each Voting Member has one vote, and measures pass by a simple majority (more yes votes than no votes).

Measures that require a vote by the OPN membership include:

  • changes to the OPN Participation Agreement, Guiding Principles, or OPN Governance Document;
  • other substantial changes to OPN’s structures or activities, as determined by the Steering Committee; and
  • changes to OPN’s operations, including transferring property from the management of one member to another and winding down OPN activities.

Elections to the steering committee are handled separately from regular voting.

Steering Committee
The OPN Steering Committee is comprised of seven (7) people elected by OPN members. Steering Committee members serve a term of two (2) years, and may serve an unlimited number of terms. Outgoing Steering Committee members’ terms expire on the date new Steering Committee members are elected to fill their seats.

The first Steering Committee election (2014) will elect four (4) candidates to two (2) year terms, and three (3) candidates to one (1) year terms. The Steering Committee Chair and the three (3) other candidates who receive the largest amount of votes will serve two (2) year terms, the remaining three (3) candidates will serve one (1) year terms.

The Steering Committee’s responsibilities include:

    • Provide oversight for OPN activities, programs and services
    • Prioritize OPN activities
    • Oversee and assist with fundraising
    • Set the agenda for monthly calls in conjunction with OPN members
    • Respond to questions or concerns raised by OPN members
    • Ensure that all votes and elections are conducted in a fair, transparent, and timely manner
    • Approve new projects under the OPN name, in consultation with the OPN membership
    • Review the OPN Governance Document every six months and proposing changes, if any, to the OPN membership for a vote

Following each Steering Committee election, the new members will elect a Chair from amongst themselves, who will be responsible for leading the Steering Committee to fulfill its responsibilities.

Steering Committee members are expected to be present at all OPN monthly calls and other Steering Committee meetings. If a Steering Committee member resigns or is unable to fulfill his or her responsibilities, the other members of the Steering Committee may hold a special election, or leave the seat vacant until the next election.

Any votes taken by the Steering Committee will pass by a simple majority (more yes votes than no votes) of members who are either present to cast their vote or who register their vote by email in advance with the Chair of the Steering Committee. Votes may only be taken if a quorum of four members is met (including votes registered in advance).

The Steering Committee will meet at least quarterly. Steering Committee meetings will be open to observation by OPN members, and minutes will be distributed to the OPN membership following each meeting.

Steering Committee Elections
The OPN will hold an election annually to fill the expiring seats on the Steering Committee. The Steering Committee will appoint an impartial entity to oversee the nomination and voting process.

OPN Members may nominate any person who is either an individual OPN Member or part of an organization that is an OPN member as a candidate for the Steering Committee. OPN Members may nominate multiple candidates, and may nominate themselves.

All candidates who accept their nomination are placed on the ballot. Each Voting OPN Member (as defined in the Voting section) has a total of seven (7) votes to allocate in part or in whole among the candidates on the ballot. The seven candidates who receive the largest total number of votes are elected to the Steering Committee. In the event of a tie, the outgoing Steering Committee will cast the tiebreaking vote.

OPN Members may act as representatives of the OPN in conferences, meetings or groups with the approval of the Steering Committee. When an OPN Member acts as a representative of the OPN, that member should announce the project and its relevance to the OPN email list and provide regular updates.

OPN will only represent the views of its members with their expressed consent. OPN may speak on behalf of the full membership regarding the general ideas outlined in the Guiding Principles, since all members agree to them upon joining. For anything more specific, such as taking a position on a particular policy, OPN will ask for members to “opt-in” and speak only on behalf of those who do.

The day-to-day operations will be managed by one or more members on a voluntary basis. The OPN website and listserv hosting is currently managed by Creative Commons.

Back to top

Museum icon from the Noun Project / public domain