“If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.”Isaac Newton, 1676
Over the last ten years this process has been facilitated with the development and extensive use of Creative Commons (CC) licences. Other licences are around, but in many ways CC has become the de facto standard. To ensure that licences used can be declared ‘Open’ there are a couple of useful definitions to test them against, the Definition of Free Cultural Works and the Open Definition.
When the concept of Open is applied to content of peer-reviewed scholarly journals it is termed ‘Open Access’. This video by PHD Comics explains things.
So recently when a global trade association for academic and professional publishers set out its terms for ‘open’ licensing that didn’t seem to fit in with the definitions over 50 organizations, including the JISC and the RLUK, formed a global coalition and released a joint letter asking that the licensing model be withdrawn.