Open content or OpenContent is a neologism coined by David Wiley in 1998 which describes a creative work that others can copy or modify. The term evokes open source software, which is a related concept in software.
When the term OpenContent was first used by Wiley, it described works licensed under the Open Content License (a non-free share-alike license, see 'Free content' below) and perhaps other works licensed under similar terms. It has since come to describe a broader class of content without conventional copyright restrictions. The openness of content can be assessed under the '4Rs Framework' based on the extent to which it can be reused, revised, remixed and redistributed by members of the public without violating copyright law. Unlike open source and free content, there is no clear threshold that a work must reach to qualify as 'open content'.
Although open content has been described as a counterbalance to copyright, open content licenses rely on a copyright holder's power to license their work.
The OpenContent website once defined OpenContent as 'freely available for modification, use and redistribution under a license similar to those used by the Open Source / Free Software community'. However, such a definition would exclude the Open Content License (OPL) because that license forbade charging 'a fee for the [OpenContent] itself', a right required by free and open source software licenses.
The term since shifted in meaning, and the OpenContent website now describes openness as a 'continuous construct'. The more copyright permissions are granted to the general public, the more open the content is. The threshold for open content is simply that the work 'is licensed in a manner that provides users with the right to make more kinds of uses than those normally permitted under the law - at no cost to the user.'