With an announcement on the government’s website (B.C. to lead Canada in offering students free, open textbooks) the government of British Columbia has moved to address a long-standing problem of proprietary knowledge in post-secondary education. Together with the move to support Open Access in journal publications, BC is following the path to supporting the free exchange of knowledge. Instead of the proprietary model of monopoly private publishers owning and selling knowledge, Open Access and the correspondingrelaxed copyright framework that it uses means that authors will maintain ownership rights of the content their produce and allow for free distribution of that content.
While it is true that the price of accessing knowledge being reduced this is definitely a positive, it is the shift away from the proprietary and private monopoly control of knowledge that makes this announcement so good.