Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

CC licenses and OA

Tracey Caldwell, Commons touch on rights, Information World Review, February 5, 2007.  Excerpt:

...Creative Commons (CC)...licences are widely used globally, mostly by authors seeking to define the rights attached to their works. Microsoft has thrown its weight behind CC, and will it incorporate into Vista , its latest version of Windows....

[M]ainstream publishers are also using them to support new sales models....Yale University Press has made [Yochai Benkler's] The Wealth of Networks available for free download under a CC licence.

The open access (OA) community has welcomed CC licences. Blogger Peter Suber, author of Open Access News says: “Creative Commons licences are terribly useful. They are very easy to implement. They come in a good variety of flavours, including several that closely match the best public definitions of open access.  Each one has three versions: human-readable, lawyer-readable and machine-readable. The machine-readable versions make it possible for search engines to filter results by licensing terms, helping users find resources that are both relevant and free to read and use. Google, Yahoo and the CC search engine already incorporate this option.”

OA journals can use CC licences....

CC licences have not been widely adopted in traditional academic publishing because they entail open access, but they have been embraced in OA publishing. PloS, BMC and Biomed use CC, as do Springer and OUP for their hybrid OA journals.

“Most hybrid publishers don’t let authors who select their OA or OA-like option retain copyright or use OA-friendly licences,” says Suber. “But I think that’s a mistake: it makes the option less valuable to authors, and will keep author uptake low.  Neither Springer nor OUP originally offered CC licences for their hybrid journals, but both changed their minds. That’s a good sign and I expect that some of the other hybrid journal publishers will also come around.”

Elsevier , though, sees little benefit in CC. Mark Seeley, Elsevier senior vice-president and general counsel, says: “The most important thing for STM authors is scholarly use of their own materials. The principles for this could be set out in a Creative Commons licence, but frankly what authors are looking for is generally well covered....”

Seeley is chair of the copyright committee of the International Association of Scientific, Technical & Medical Publishers. Its draft paper, Appropriate Balance for Academic Publishing and Academic Use, states: “The management of the scholarly publishing system is best done by publishers as professionals, and it is important to remember that publishers are in the business of making content available to the widest possible audience, provided they can do so in financially viable fashion. Exclusive rights are critical to administering the scientific record and ensuring viable business models for journals.”

Matt Cockerill, publisher at BioMed Central, which makes all its content available under CC licences, points to the practical benefits.  “BioMed articles supplied under a Creative Commons licence are free to be redistributed in NCBI’s standard full-text XML form by the NCBI [National Centre for Biotechnology Information]. Other articles, while they may be free on the publisher’s websites and even on PubMed Central, are not available for reuse and mining in this way.

“Because CC licences were designed from the start to encourage digital reuse, they are designed for machine readability. Web spiders can automatically recognise all articles published by BioMed Central as being open access and redistributable, thanks to the Creative Commons metadata embedded in every page.” ...

John Wilbanks, executive director of Science Commons, believes open access is the key to CC acceptance. “CC licences are simply a free, standard way to go OA. We have had a lot of conversations with traditional publishers, and the questions are far more skewed towards ‘Should we go open access?’ than ‘Should we use Creative Commons?’...”

[Rachel] Bruce says that JISC projects within the repository programme are looking at using CC licences, and that JISC hopes to come out with guidance on the use of Creative Commons....

Science Commons is working on new licences specifically for scientific research and all the indications are that CC licences will play an important part in future access to scientific research.