Published 30 September 2020

Choosing a licence

Copyright and licensing are two important considerations when publishing an open access book. There are different Creative Commons (CC) licences which allow for your open access book to be used and shared in different ways. Sometimes your funder will specify which licence type the open access book must be published under so it is best to check this first. In addition, some publishers do not offer all of the various licence types, or they might charge a different rate for the book processing charge (BPC) depending on the licence type you require. It is also worth checking who would retain copyright.

Choosing a licence1

There are six types of CC licence and all of them require the user to attribute the original work back to you. You might be familiar with some of the licences if you have ever checked the usage rights field in the advanced settings of a Google image search. All CC licences include these first two acronyms:

  • CC: Creative Commons (the type of licence)
  • BY: attribution (the copyright holder must be acknowledged)

You might also see 4.0 — this is the current version of the licence and it is updated by Creative Commons every few years.

CC BY, the most open licence, allows any form of re-use providing the original publication is credited. Additional limitations can be added for your preferred licence type:

  • SA: share alike (this allows for modifications as long as any modified work carries the same licence type)
  • NC: non-commercial (this lets others share, modify and build upon your open access book but not for commercial purposes)
  • ND: no derivatives (others can reuse your work; however, it cannot be modified or shared with others in adapted form)

Picking and choosing from these elements gives us the six licence options: CC BY, CC BY-SA, CC BY-ND, CC BY-NC, CC BY-NC-SA, CC BY-NC-ND. Creative Commons has created an interactive tool that selects the right licence type for you with just two questions about how you want your work to be used and shared.

Questions to consider2

The Authors’ Alliance ‘Understanding Open Access’ document is another useful resource to help guide you through the decision-making process. It discusses questions such as:

  1. How open do you want to make your work?
  2. What rights do you want to licence to the public?
  3. Do you want to put conditions on the use of your work?

Finally, remember to check what licence type your funder requires, if any, and which licences each publisher can offer you.

Last edited on 30 September 2020, at 07:10 (+0000)