Authors will not agree to such terms of open publication

Considering this issue from the very formal point of view, authors by signing a contract for creating a work (or by developing it as part of their duties) very often agree to transfer copyrights on fields of use defined in the agreement. As a result, they loses property rights to their work (on a particular field of use) and they are not aware of the consequences. In fact, authors no longer have the control over the work and they are not able to make a decision of independent distribution of their own works anymore.

Creative Commons licenses are a completely different type of contract. By publishing under CC authors grant permission to use the work but retain the rights to the work and still can be in charge of its distribution. An open publication is much more convenient for the author than the transfer of the property rights to others (i.e. publishers). Creative Commons licences are non-exclusive so they give the author a right, for instance, to sign the contract with publishing house on distribution of the work in traditional way (through selling printed copies) while in the same time the work can be available online for free on open conditions.

However, when it comes to open sharing, authors start being afraid of losing the control over their work. They also consider open publication as giving the work for free and receiving nothing in return. These concerns, while understandable, rarely turn out to be justified. There is always a risk even if the work is copyrighted, that it may be used, without asking for permission, by someone acting illegally. Such situation may happen regardless the type of legal protection of authors’ intellectual rights.

On the other hand, publishing under open conditions increases the visibility and the availability of their work. The clearly defined conditions of Creative Commons licenses make the usage, with regard to the rules, much more easy. It is the author who has the right to decide on ways other people can use his/her work. By choosing the particular Creative Commons license the author has control over the usage of the work as he/she informs publicly how the work can be re-used under specific conditions which paradoxically very often results in greater respect for the law, and generates less unauthorized actions. What is more, the author can specify how the work should be attributed e.g. by adding reference link to the source information.

Authors also concerns that open publication after re-use will distort the meaning and decrease the quality of the work. It may likely happen that derived work doesn’t meet the expectations of the quality or esthetics. However, if an author of a derived work does act according to Creative Commons license (attributes the authorship), it is clear for users of the derived work which elements of it are developed by whom and if the users would like to, they may use the original instead of derived version of the work.

Want to know more?

Basic Guide to Open Educational Resources, Commonwealth of Learning, UNESCO, p. 9

A Case Study in Obstacles to and Strategies for Negotiating the Relicensing of Third-Party Content, Steve Philips,


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