Which Open Access licence is best? What’s the difference between CC-BY and CC-BY-NC-ND?

Open Access is a fast moving area, with different publishers offering different options. If you are considering publishing your book open access, it will have a Creative Commons licence attached to it. The terminology surrounding this can be confusing. CC-BY, CC-BY-NC, or CC-BY-NC-ND – does it matter which one applies?

There’s a very good bullet-point listing on the Manchester University Press website of how the licences differ. It’s part of their general Open Access glossary, which I would recommend taking a look at if you’d like some guidance.

Here’s the bit about the licences…

CC-BY licence

  • Anyone is free to share — copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format.
  • Anyone is free to adapt — remix, transform, and build upon the material
  • Appropriate credit must be given to the author.
  • The license must be linked to.
  • Commercial re-use is allowed.

CC-BY-NC licence

  • Anyone is free to share — copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format.
  • Anyone is free to adapt — remix, transform, and build upon the material
  • Appropriate credit must be given to the author.
  • The license must be linked to.
  • Commercial re-use is not allowed without permission.

CC-BY-NC-ND licence

  • Anyone is free to share — copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format.
  • Appropriate credit must be given to the author.
  • The license must be linked to.
  • Commercial re-use is not allowed without permission.
  • Remixing, transforming, and building upon the material are not allowed without permission.

CC-BY is the licence favoured by Open Access purists, as it’s the least restrictive in terms of allowing people to share and develop the content. However, CC-BY-NC-ND is an attractive option for authors in the humanities and social sciences, who may be less comfortable with the idea of their material being remixed and transformed.

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