Ford Foundation Announces Open Licensing Policy for Grantees

The Ford Foundation has announced that it is adopting an open licensing policy for all grant-funded projects and research, with the twin goals of promoting greater access to that material and transparency around its work.

Effective immediately, grantees and consultants will be required to widely disseminate all copyrightable products funded by a foundation grant — including white papers, research reports, and websites — and make them available under a Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 4.0), which allows others, free of charge and without needing permission, to copy, redistribute, and adapt such materials, provided they give appropriate credit. The Creative Commons requirement will be waived when the expected product contains sensitive or confidential material. The foundation itself is adopting the CC BY license for all materials on its website not subject to third-party ownership.

Ford joins several other grantmaking organizations that have adopted Creative Commons licensing policies, including the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, which requires CC BY for all project-based materials, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which adopted a CC BY open access policy for published grant-funded research and data.

"Our organization is committed to being as transparent and open as possible, and this philosophy extends to the work we fund and the valuable materials we and our grantees produce," said Ford Foundation president Darren Walker. "This policy change will help grantees and the public more easily connect with us and build upon our work, ensure our grant dollars go further and are more impactful, and — most importantly — increase our ability to advance social justice worldwide."

"Ford Foundation Expands Creative Commons Licensing for All Grant-Funded Projects." Ford Foundation Press Release 02/03/2015. Timothy Vollmer. "Ford Foundation to Require CC BY for All Grant-Funded Projects." Creative Commons Blog Post 02/03/2015.