In a world where news, data and images are increasingly shared freely online, whether correctly or not, Creative Commons (CC) has stepped up to make allowing others to reuse and remix your research easy. By creating, maintaining and promoting all of the available CC licences, the organisation hopes to help an international community of scientists, educators and activists realise the benefits of the commons. In this interview with Graham Steel (Publishing Consultant and Interim Representative for the United Kingdom to the CC Global Network Council), we found out the real advantages of publishing under a CC licence.
Creative Commons (CC) licences are free, international, easy-to-use copyright licences that can be utilised by any authors or publishers. They specifically allow research and data to be reused and remixed collaboratively. The CC organisation, which created these licences in 2001, builds tools that make their licensing system discoverable and usable across the globe and across disciplines.
With goals such as opening up education for all, accelerating innovation in science and medicine through collaboration and inspiring works of art and culture, the CC has its eyes set firmly on how CC licensing can shape a better future. Interim Representative for the United Kingdom to the CC Global Network Council, Graham Steel, told Research Outreach more about how the organisation came to be, how the licensing works and why it is so important.
What is Creative Commons (CC), and what is Science Commons?
Science Commons was an initiative launched by CC in early 2005 which ran until 2009. Its primary focus was on building infrastructure for open science. More broadly, CC has undertaken projects to build commons-based infrastructure for science through identifying and lowering unnecessary barriers to research, crafting policy guidelines and legal agreements and developing technology to make research, data and materials easier to find, share and use.
The number and choice of licences as they stand work extremely well and offer an option to suit everyone’s needs.
What does your role at CC involve?
Why are licences important for scientific content?
Are there too many licences? Should CC BY be the default for text?
The number and choice of licences as they stand work extremely well and offer an option to suit everyone’s needs. It is certainly refreshing to see alternatives to the norm in subscription-based publishing/publishers.
Should CC BY be the default for text?
OA and CC – are they separable? Can you expand on CC’s relationship and thoughts on OA? Can a journal be OA without using a CC licence?
CC has been and remains a pivotal element of OA. It has provided visionary thinking and evangelising about the benefits and possibilities of OA via conferences, networking with the main stakeholders within the OA movement, and calling upon the CC board of directors to give talks about CC and OA. CC hosted convenings, such as the 2006 Information Commons for Science Congress at the National Academies of Science in Washington, D.C., where renowned scientists and scholars from the United States and other countries gathered to discuss data-sharing strategies. In 2007, CC co-sponsored with the Committee on Data for Science and Technology (CODATA) the Workshop on Common Use Licensing of Scientific Data Products in Paris. This conference included representatives from the Global Biodiversity Information Facility, and leading legal scholars, scientists and CC International affiliates actively working on data sharing policies. It was through this collaborative process that the Science Commons Data Protocol emerged as the best – and possibly only – solution to the challenges collectively identified at that time.
CC has moved beyond simple licensing, towards making the commons more vibrant and usable, and enabling more collaboration and gratitude
In the scientific and academic communities, the benefits that digital technologies offer in terms of facilitating the greater and more efficient dissemination of research and knowledge have not yet been fully harnessed – what are your thoughts on this?
CC has been established for more than 16 years now. What does the next five years hold? What are the strategic goals of the organisation?
Another example is the Creative Commons Certificate, an in-depth educational course about the ethos of openness, as well as CC licences and how they work. The course is available to everyone and is geared towards empowering individuals and institutions to better advocate for openness and to help them be fully up to speed on how to interact with CC licences and CC-licensed works.
There’s also the Creative Commons Summit, an annual event. The summit is an opportunity for everyone interested in this work to get together in person with an international community of technologists, culture creators, academics and activists to share ideas and decide on the best ways to move the movement forward.
Finally, there’s the Creative Commons Global Network. This is a membership programme for organising, expanding and empowering the global community of people who are actively invested in making the world more open, and making culture more accessible and available to all.
Can you provide some links to resources where researchers can learn more about CC licences?
You can also find more information via the following links:
- Creative Commons
- Creative Commons FAQ’s
- Choosing a CC licence
- How should I decide which licence to choose?
- Fact Sheet On Creative Commons an Open Science
- Creative Commons Licensing Explained (video)
- Building on the Past’ – An explanation of how Creative Commons works. Winner of the Creative Commons Moving Image contest (video).