Creative Commons and Open Access Books
by Chris Penfold, Commissioning Editor, UCL Press
Creative Commons licences determine how open access content can be reused, and each licence permits the content to be reused in different ways. The most common licences are:
CC BY: Allows others to redistribute, edit and build upon the content, even commercially, as long as the original author is credited.
CC BY-SA: Allows others to redistribute, edit and build upon the content, even commercially, as long as the original author is credited and the new content is licenced under identical terms as the original content.
CC BY-ND: Allows others to redistribute the content, even commercially, as long as the original author is credited. If the material is modified, it cannot be distributed.
CC BY-NC: Allows others to redistribute, edit and build upon the content, but not commercially. The original author must be credited.
CC BY-NC-ND: Allows others to copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format, but not commercially. If the material is modified, it cannot be distributed. The original author must be credited.
Authors are gradually warming to licensing their work with CC licences. The benefits of CC BY, in particular, are now widely understood and appreciated. CC BY fully realises the potential of open publishing to transform content into an effective tool for education and research: the less restrictive the licence, the more widely and flexibly the content can be redistributed and reused. Key Concepts in Public Archaeology, which was published by UCL Press as part of the JISC e-textbook initiative, enjoys the benefits of this licence.
However, while CC BY is the most popular licence among UCL Press authors, some still opt for a more restrictive licence. This decision is no longer driven by a fear of commercial exploitation – once the most common concern, in my experience, as authors envisaged their work being repackaged and sold by a predatory publisher – now, the fear is centred on poor translation. The discussion, then, has shifted from the implications of NC to ND.
Authors in area studies, for example, who strongly anticipate an international readership, want any translations of their work to remain under their control. This has become a pressing issue in relation to policy and cases where certain jargon has no agreed equivalent in other languages. Also, authors who focus on generating new ideas to tackle the world’s global problems – ideas that are not yet established in other countries and cultures – depend on careful translation to ensure that the ideas are interpreted correctly. Authors in these disciplines desire the freedom to undertake the translation first and in their own time, or to collaborate with a translator they know and trust. Although UCL Press encourages the adoption of CC BY, we allow authors to choose the licence they prefer, and we agree that a more restrictive licence can offer an important security measure in specific cases. This security measure, when adopted, is not primarily for the benefit of publisher or author, but for the benefit of the discipline.