What kind of license would you use?

For this assignment, I had to brush up on my knowledge of Creative Commons licensing.  I found this helpful chart comparing licenses

I hear a lot about it these days and I would encourage profs at my college to pursue it and open access publications.  I don’t like the traditional publication process of scholarly works; it benefits big publishers more than researchers.  Articles are written and then locked away on a publisher’s website.  If the article is not indexed in a database or on Google Scholar, there is a poor chance that it will be accessed at all.  Most articles cost between $30 – $70 to access if you don’t subscribe to a journal!  For this reason, I’m a big advocate of open access journals.  The open access movement is growing and while there are predatory journals that accept gibberish publications (such as “Get Me off Your Fucking Mailing List”). the movement is growing.  I’m hoping to publish more and as a personal rule, I will only publish on open access journals.  There is more visibility and the people who need the info the most (like researchers in developing nations who can’t afford databases that cost $15,000 a year or), can access the information.

What License Would I Choose?

I have published a peer-reviewed article, “Shifting the Instructional Paradigm”, in an open access journal, Tennessee Libraries.  All articles published in this journal are licensed under a CC 3.0 license that allows others to distribute, access, and remix my work with attribution for non-commercial purposes.  This is the logo found at the bottom of every article on Tennessee Libraries:


This strikes a balance between accessibility and respecting the intellectual works of others.  I did not make a profit when I published the article and I wouldn’t want others to do that either.  I thinks its only ethical to cite your sources and I would encourage others to read my work and do further research on the topic.  Therefore, publishing in this journal made sense to me.

A Really Cool Work that is Licensed on a Creative Commons

In the Library with a Lead Pipe is an innovative trade publication for librarians that examines libraries and information issues from the lens of critical theory(ies) (i.e. Marxist, feminist, queer, colonialist, etc.).  The journal is very cutting edge in that authors are writing peer-reviewed work, but including media, like videos and GIFs.  Back in January of 2014, nina de jesus (intentionally not capitalized, like the author bell hooks) published an outline of an article that she would like to write, “Locating the Library Within Institutional Oppression”  She posted her outline and encouraged readers to write the article based on her outline.  Eventually, Joshua Beatty did just this.  nina de jesus later decided to write the article herself.  Here is the article written by nina de jesus and the one written by Joshua Beatty – they are written from the same outline.  Both articles are published under CC License 4.0, which allows for even commercial reproduction.  This license goes a step further than the one I chose since the articles can be re-used for commercial purposes (which is odd for a journal that holds the for-profit information-publishing complex in contempt).

I believe that nina de jesus was attempting to crowdsource a paper by publishing an outline.  I think she realized the value of crowds in articulating ideas and giving examples of these ideas.  The author and the journal have radical assumptions on the value of information (i.e. that it should not be locked up in a for-profit journal, that a good article does not rest on the wit of one single author).  These assumptions are similar to mine, but I would not allow the article to be re-used for lucrative purposes. I’m I’m reading the CC licenses correctly, a non-commercial clause would prevent someone from publishing the article in a book for lucrative gain.  CC 4.0 licenses allow for non-exclusive rights to disseminate an article, as explained in the Submission Guidelines, so that authors can share their works on other avenues.  Some publishers limit authors to only using a particular journal for sharing their work (ie the author could not download the PDF and share it with their colleagues via email).  Given the critical focus of this journal, I’m sure this was the reason for the CC 4.0 license.  I believe the author of the outline and I share similar assumptions about information and this why we chose similar CC licenses.


6 thoughts on “What kind of license would you use?

  1. That’s a very helpful chart. Your links are relevant and useful. I think this post goes above and beyond the assignment expectations. Excellent work.


  2. Hi! I’m the writer of “Locating the Library in Institutional Oppression”. I just wanted to add some stuff to the details of the post re: licensing that I picked and clarify what ‘non-commercial’ means — and the confusion over it.

    The outline for the paper was originally licensed under an Apache license, but I switched to match up with the journal. The outline’s home, once _In the Library With the Lead pipe_ contacted me about open sourcing the outline was/is on github: https://github.com/satifice/locating-the-library-in-institutional-oppression. You can find the outline, a bibliography, and other stuff at that link. I can’t remember why I chose Apache initially, other than it was easy/convenient at the time.

    Concerning ‘non-commercial’ use, I do understand your concerns about that element of it and I felt the same way for a long time. Lately, though, I’ve changed my mind because of discussions around the ambiguity over what ‘non-commercial’ actually means and its scope. While I’m not thrilled at the idea that a predatory publisher or journal could take my article and reproduce it in a commercial volume, there are people who argue (since the license has no legal cases that test it) that ‘non-commercial’ actually includes things like charities. Most charities are registered businesses (that happen to also be registered as not-for-profit/non-profit/charitable) and a non-commercial license would — technically — prevent them from re-using my work.

    All of this to say that intellectual property is a complex issue. 😛


  3. Hey Seth,

    Really great post. You helped clarify CC for me. I like open access journals too. The amount of useful journals that are behind unreasonable payment barriers is just silly. There must be a better way. Great work.


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