Creative commons in relation to digital materials and open-source software are useful resources for heritage organisations. Using freely available materials such as images, music and computer applications may provide significant savings on licensing fees. Your organisation can also create digital content which you may then choose to make openly available to others, especially if the materials are of significant public interest.
Creativecommons.org is a non-profit organization which aims to help overcome legal obstacles in sharing digital content by creating licences for the use of text, music, and digital images. Through the Creative Commons, the copyright owner of a work may make it available for public use in a variety of ways subject to various conditions such as crediting the original creator.
For example, a search on creativecommons.org using the term ‘Heritage’ returns over 10,000 results. This provides a relatively simple way to share your collections or creative outputs with the wider public. At the same time, you can also consider using different licenses to encourage others to re-use your images or other material in creative projects.
In this resource, our expert Ruth Daly, University of Leeds, explains how you might use open-source materials and technologies within your organisation.
In addition to creative commons-licensed media, the use of open-source alternatives to branded computer software can also generate considerable cost savings. The term ‘open source’ refers to the fact that the source code for the software is made publicly available. This doesn’t always mean that the software is free to use, but open-source software may certainly be a much cheaper alternative.
Another key benefit of switching to open-source software is the communities and forums of support related to popular products which may feature mailing lists, online help and even live chat functions. For organisations wishing to explore modifications to functionality, the open-source nature means that code can be added to and changed to provide a more bespoke user interface, the addition of logos, or other improved and additional functions.
The drawbacks may be that the software could be more difficult to learn and use, or the user interface may not look as well designed as more established commercial products.
While some open-source products have been running for many years and have built a large community of developers and contributors, others may be less popular and as a result some projects are not maintained and so lack continued development.
Pros and cons of open-source software
- Low cost.
- Community support.
- Easily customised.
- May be difficult to use.
- May lack development.
If you decide to use open-source software there are plenty of options available. Below are some popular software options for different functions which you could consider.
Open-source alternatives to the Windows operating system
Open-source productivity software
Office productivity suites:
Please attribute as: "The pros and cons of switching to free and open-source digital tools and software (2022) by Dr Ruth Daly supported by The Heritage Fund, licensed under CC BY 4.0