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Intellectual Property Policy
Last updated: June 28, 2011
The Open Society Foundations (“OSF”) work to build vibrant and tolerant democracies whose governments are accountable to their citizens.  To achieve its mission, OSF seeks to shape public policies that assure greater fairness in political, legal, and economic systems and safeguard fundamental rights.  On a local level, OSF implements a range of initiatives to advance justice, education, public health, and independent media.  At the same time, OSF builds alliances across borders and continents on issues such as corruption and freedom of information.  OSF places a high priority on protecting and improving the lives of people in marginalized communities.
OSF believes that its mission is advanced when the work product we support and create is made broadly available to the public.
Intellectual Property Policy
Open Society Foundations grants often result in tangible products, such as reports, papers, research, data sets, books, film or television documentaries, or radio programs, that are covered by various intellectual property regimes, such as copyright and patent (“Work Product”).  In addition, OSF itself creates and commissions a substantial amount of Work Product
OSF’s policy is to ensure that both its own Work Product and that of its grantees furthers its mission and charitable purposes and that it benefits the public.  To that end, OSF has granted a Creative Commons license to virtually all of its own Work Product.  Under the terms of these licenses, anyone may copy and widely distribute OSF’s Work Product without charge for non-commercial purposes, provided that they do not alter it, that they credit OSF as the creator, and that they provide a link to OSF’s website.  
We believe that OSF’s mission is enhanced when our grantees’ Work Product is also made widely available to the public, with appropriate protection of legitimate interests.  To that end, OSF is introducing a new clause into its grant agreements, whereby our grantees must advise OSF whether or not they will broadly license all Work Product created with OSF funds using a Creative Commons license, or otherwise.
OSF recognizes there may be circumstances where limited or delayed dissemination of grantee Work Product or limited access to data may be appropriate to protect legitimate interests of the grantee, other funders, principal investigators or participants in research studies.  For such situations, OSF’s grant letter provides grantees with the option to choose not to grant any such license to exploit their Work Product. 
Though OSF believes that, in most cases, intellectual property rights should not limit or deny access to grantees’ Work Product, grantees remain free to determine their own policies on such matters.  A grantee’s decision whether or not to grant a Creative Commons license to their Work Product will not affect grant decisions by OSF.
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