Case Studies/OpenVoice Free PBX

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OpenVoice banner used with permission

Adoption date unspecified
PBX, audio, open source


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OpenVoice Free is a free-for-download voice-prompting service specialising in supplying Australian voice prompts for the Asterisk open source PBX telephone system and other compatible IVR systems.

The offering of CC-licensed media has been very positive for us. We find that those who do not have the budget for commercial versions are able to take advantage of our media… [and] those who are uncertain as to the suitability or quality of our commercial media have found that by installing the free versions, they have been impressed enough to purchase commercial versions, so it serves as a form of promotion. — Ben Buxton, OpenVoice


OpenVoice is a small business based in Australia, specialising in providing voice prompting services for the Asterisk™ Open Source PBX system, and other compatible telephone voice prompt systems. Such applications are commonly used by businesses and organisations to manage telephone switchboards and improve business communications. As part of its services offered for commercial sale, OpenVoice has created OpenVoice Free, a set of Australian voice prompts which are available free of charge under a Creative Commons licence.

OpenVoice Free is a comprehensive set of voice files that businesses and organisations can download for use and distribute free of charge in both commercial and non-commercial environments. The voice files feature an Australian voiceover artist, providing an Australian and sometimes humorous touch to what are often American voiced PBX systems. The package contains a complete set of Australian voicemail prompts, wake-up calls and prompts for base Asterisk IVR functionality. This gives the user a functioning basic system containing the most common announcements. OpenVoice Free is not restricted to the Asterisk platform and can also be used for other IVR applications. For more demanding IVR systems and customised prompt packages, OpenVoice have a range of services available for purchase.

By using Creative Commons licences, OpenVoice have made a non-commercial contribution to the Asterisk community and has secured a method for legally distributing a demo of their services that promotes their more extensive selection of commercially licensed media.

License Usage

OpenVoice Free is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.1 Australia licence. This permits commercial uses of the media, ensures OpenVoice is attributed and that any derivative works are licensed in the same way. Initially OpenVoice considered GFDL licensing for OpenVoice Free, but found that Creative Commons licences were a more user-friendly alternative due to their plain English deed and minimal accompanying licence documentation. Also, unlike GFDL, Creative Commons licences are not format specific. This accorded with OpenVoice’s goal of making OpenVoice Free available with maximum ease and exposure.

OpenVoice report that their CC licensed media is downloaded at a rate of 50x that of the commercial versions on offer, and have found that customers who used OpenVoice Free were impressed enough with the service to go on to purchase OpenVoice’s commercially available media.


As a fan of free software and media licences, OpenVoice’s Ben Buxton was impressed with the range of licences offered by Creative Commons. In an email interview with Emma Carroll from Creative Commons Australia in April 2008, Ben offered the following rationale for adopting CC:

‘We use CC licences because they provide a range of licensing options that suit most copyright holders who would like to allow relatively free distribution of their media. The licences are also simple to understand, and don’t require a lawyer to decode.
OpenVoice chose the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike licence because:
  1. The licence permits commercial use of the media. This is important as our media is intended for a primarily commercial application and we would like [to give] businesses the ability to use our free versions of the media.
  2. Attribution is required, as part of the reason for offering the media is as a demo for our more extensive commercially licensed media. We'd like those who spread the media around to give a pointer back to us.
  3. Sharealike so that derivatives of the media retain the commercial use guideline, and the attribution back to us.’

OpenVoice Free is a great example of how a company can license their media with Creative Commons to generate business and commercial gain, while offering a free version for those without the budget for commercial applications. According to Ben’s philosophy, ‘We’d rather people access a free version than not at all, as it benefits them, and we are proud to offer an Australian option to a primarily American software package.’


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