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OCW, Elsevier offer free content from thousands of journals

In a move to encourage open education, MIT OpenCourseWare (OCW) and Elsevier have agreed to make available figures and text selections from any of the publisher's more than 2,000 journal titles for use on OCW.

As a result of this landmark agreement announced this month, select Elsevier content can now be included within the open-access OCW course materials to be freely downloaded, used and shared under a Creative Commons license. The Elsevier content includes up to three figures (including tables and illustrations) per individual article (or 10 per journal volume) and up to 100 words from a single text extract (or 300 words from a series of extracts).

"This is a great example of how publishers and institutions can work together to support the academic community, in this case by making it easier to use copyright works for academic purposes," said Mark Seeley, general counsel, Elsevier.

Elsevier publishes prestigious journals within the science and health fields, including Journal of Biomechanics, Cell, Journal of Structural Biology, Biomaterials, Polymer, and Planetary & Space Sciences. The full list is available at

The agreement will significantly increase the richness of OCW materials, since many of the illustrations reduce the amount of time that professors, their staff and OCW staff would have otherwise spent searching and obtaining permissions for individual quotes and figures.

Cecilia d'Oliveira, acting executive director of OCW, said, "We hear from thousands of students, educators, and self-learners every day about how OCW materials have helped changed their lives. Offering additional resources to these people will make an even greater impact on open learning and education. We hope this agreement will inspire other publishers to join in these efforts to unlock knowledge and empower people around the world."


A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on March 19, 2008 (download PDF).

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