Creative Commons Licenses: What do they mean?

Many subscription journals now offer authors the opportunity to publish under an open access license policy. Instead of the traditional model in which readers must either subscribe to the journal or purchase an article in order to read it, the open access model provides immediate, free access to the article for all readers at the journal’s website.

In addition, under open access licenses, authors retain their copyright. Authors give the journal permission to disseminate their work rather than turning copyright over to the journal via a copyright transfer agreement.

There’s generally a cost for making your work accessible and retaining your copyright. Fees for open access licenses range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars, depending on the journal.

If you choose the open access option, you will have to select the specific open access license that you want to apply to your article. The license you pick will determine what rights others have to use and change your work.

Most journals have adopted the license models developed by Creative Commons. The licenses that Creative Commons offers are identified by combinations of the following 4 abbreviations and 1 word:

CC – This abbreviation stands for Creative Commons, a global nonprofit organization that provides free legal tools to enable sharing and reuse of intellectual property. All Creative Commons licenses begin with CC.

BY – This is the 1 word, and it’s in every CC license. BY in the license name means users must give you credit for your work.

ND – This abbreviation means no derivatives are allowed. If this abbreviation is in the license name, others cannot adapt, change, extract, or translate your work.

NC – This abbreviation stands for noncommercial. If this abbreviation is in the license name, others are prohibited from making money for your work. No for-profit use is permitted.

SA – This abbreviation means share alike and gives others permission to make whatever changes they want to your work. They can remix, adapt, rebuilt, tweak—whatever—but they must license their derivative works under the same CC license as the original work.

We’ve made a chart that explains user rights and restrictions under each license. The licenses are ordered from the least restrictive to the most restrictive.

License User Rights/Restrictions
Attribution

CC BY

(the least restrictive license)

 Rights:

· Read, print, and download

· Distribute and copy

· Make alterations such as extracts, abstracts, revised versions, adaptations, and translations

· Text and data mine

· Reuse portions of the article in other works

· Commercial and noncommercial uses permitted

Restrictions:

· The original author/creator must be credited.

Attribution-ShareAlike

CC BY SA

 Rights:

· Read, print, and download

· Distribute and copy

· Make alterations such as extracts, abstracts, revised versions, adaptations, and translations

· Text and data mine

· Reuse portions of the article in other works

·  Commercial and noncommercial uses permitted

 Restrictions:

· New creations must be licensed under the identical terms as the original work.

· The original author/creator must be credited.

Attribution-NoDerivs

CC BY ND

 Rights:

· Read, print, and download

· Distribute and copy

· Commercial and noncommercial uses permitted

 Restrictions:

· Alterations and modifications are not allowed.

· The original author/creator must be credited.

Attribution-NonCommercial

CC BY NC

 Rights:

· Read, print, and download

· Distribute and copy

· Make alterations such as extracts, abstracts, revised versions, adaptations, and translations

· Text and data mine

· Reuse portions of the article in other works

· Noncommercial uses permitted

· License derivative works under any terms

 Restrictions:

· Commercial uses are not allowed.

· The original author/creator must be credited.

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike

CC BY NC SA

 Rights:

· Read, print, and download

· Distribute and copy

· Make alterations such as extracts, abstracts, revised versions, adaptations, and translations

· Text and data mine

· Reuse portions of the article in other works

· Noncommercial uses permitted

 Restrictions:

· Commercial uses are not allowed.

· New creations must be licensed under the identical terms as the original work.

· The original author/creator must be credited.

Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs

CC BY NC ND

(the most restrictive license)

 Rights:

· Read, print, and download

· Distribute and copy

· Noncommercial uses permitted

 Restrictions:

· Alterations and modifications are not allowed

· Commercial uses are not allowed.

· The original author/creator must be credited.

An excellent supplement to this table is the flowchart created by Creative Commons Australia. A series of questions helps authors identify the restrictions they want to place on reuse of their content and identifies the license that corresponds to those restrictions.

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