About Creative Commons (CC) Licenses

A license is distinct from copyright. Copyright identifies who holds rights; a license defines how copyrighted material may be used,

Creative Commons is devoted to expanding the range of creative works available for others to build upon legally and to share. The organization has released several licenses known as Creative Commons licenses free of charge to the public. These licenses allow creators to communicate which rights they reserve, and which rights they waive for the benefit of recipients or other creators. An easy-to-understand one-page explanation of rights, with associated visual symbols, explains the specifics of each Creative Commons license. Creative Commons licenses do not replace copyright, but clarify what the copyright holder permits. They replace individual negotiations for specific rights between copyright owner (licensor) and licensee, which are necessary under an "all rights reserved" copyright management, with a "some rights reserved" management employing standardized licenses for re-use cases where no commercial compensation is sought by the copyright owner. The result is an agile, low-overhead and low-cost copyright-management regime, profiting both copyright owners and licensees.

Choose a CC License for your work

Complete the easy to use form to generate a license for your work: https://creativecommons.org/choose/
Embed the machine-readable code to the style sheet/journal template, so that it is displayed on each and every page related to the journal.

It is recommended that the journal clearly indicates whether an open license applies to the journal articles, and which one of the six CC Licenses.

Example open license for journals: http://www.plosmedicine.org/static/license

To choose NC or not to choose NC

From Tobias Schonwetter:

"Choosing the NC element seems to be something like a knee-jerk reaction of many that are confronted with open licensing (“yes, I want to share my content more freely but I certainly don’t want others to make money with my content”). What I always ask is what they really want to achieve with licensing their content under an open licence - and very often the answer is “widest possible dissemination” of their content. However, if this is the underlying objective then using the NC requirement certainly isn’t wise because it is often the commercial players that are the best multipliers / distributors.

Also, there is often a fear that competitors would use the material if the NC element was not added. I don’t think this is likely because even if the NC element is not used the work has still to be attributed clearly to the original source - and which competitor would really like to distribute material that is clearly marked as not being his own.

Lastly, using the NC element narrows down the options when one wishes to combine a work with another CC licensed work as can be seen in this matrix: https://wiki.creativecommons.org/index.php/Wiki/cc_license_compatibility"

"Minimise main concerns by using the sharealike (CC BY SA) element, which would require those changing the article to also disseminate the resulting work under an open licence

The use of the ND element (CC BY ND) would simply disallow the creation of derivative works under that licence, which also appears to solve the problem. However, this is problematic in itself in that such a requirement potentially stifles progress made through improving existing “knowledge". Also, even if one uses the ND element, the other party would still be allowed to actually sell the same work (if someone wants to pay for a work that is also available for free elsewhere).

One could also consider using the NC element (CC BY NC) as this would also prevent abuse as described but the problem is that using the NC element always curtails dissemination.

So in a nutshell I would suggest to consider using the CC BY SA licence if the fact that others may make money from the journal is a real concern. However, the disadvantage is that the more licence elements you use the less dissemination will happen and it will also become increasingly different to combine that content with other CC content that is licensed under a different licence."

Find CC licensed work

Search at http://search.creativecommons.org/


As indicated, a CC license is not a replacement for copyright. Each and every journal should indicate with whom the copyright for articles published in that journal resides. It can for example be with the following:
  • Author (usually when the journal is an OA journal)
  • Journal
  • Institution/Organisation/Association (third party)
  • Other

The copyright notice will usually appear in the About the Journal section. It should describe for readers and authors whether the copyright holder is the author, journal, or a third party. It should include additional licensing agreements (e.g. Creative Commons licenses) that grant rights to readers, and it should provide the means for securing permissions, if necessary, for the use of the journal's content.

Example copyright notice for open access journals:

Authors who publish in the journal agree to the following terms:

Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.

Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.

It is recommended that the journal clearly indicates whether an open license applies to the journal articles, and which one of the six CC Licenses.