Note on Open Resources and Digital Public Goods
Nilekani Philanthropies acknowledges that philanthropy is for public good and what it creates must be public goods that are open and available.
We believe any content in the form of data or information assets or software code that are created by philanthropic capital are a valuable societal resource only when they are public and open. Digital societal capital in the form of open content can unlock precious scarce resources, drive innovation and create value in areas far beyond their original context, across samaaj, bazaar and sarkaar.
This is also to ensure that assets built democratise the ability to solve wicked problems and that their utility continues to exist for the ecosystem well beyond any individual organisation or mission alone.
Nilekani Philanthropies believes in “open”ness of three kinds.
Philosophical openness, that is, the organisation creating these goods must see them as public goods and be aligned on the necessity of such openness and not require permission as precondition of reuse.
Technical openness, that is, they must adhere to a set of common standards and not be in proprietary formats or hidden behind difficult to access walls.
And lastly, legal openness, that is, they must be legally licensed for all manner of use and adaptation, whether commercial or not.
Philosophically and practically, NP echoes what the Shuttleworth Foundation says, that “the spirit of openness that infuses the nature of collaboration. Combining openly licensed intellectual property with open practices enables and encourages others to experiment in their own environments, localise, contextualise, translate, adapt and spread the tools and methodologies we are developing well beyond our own reach and imagination.”
And in the digital age, the lines have become increasingly blurred between the traditional categories of creators and users of intellectual property. Much like the Shuttleworth Foundation, we “take the stance closest to extreme openness as a counterbalance to the prevailing idea of completely closed, in order to establish new norms along the continuum.”