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Graf, Klaus, Thatcher, Sandy (2012). Point & Counterpoint: Is CC BY the Best Open Access License?. Journal of Librarianship and Scholarly Communication 1(1):eP1043.
Available at:

Many thanks to Isaac Gilman who transformed my English in something readable!

My opinion piece is licensed under CC-BY while Mr Thatcher's text has the CC-BY-NC license. I reproduce here only my part:

"The only aim of scholarly communication should be the widest possible distribution of knowledge and scholarly results. In order for
this to be possible, published research—which scholars give away for
free to publishers—should be open access. And in this context, “gratis” open access (free to access) isn’t enough; only “libre” open access, which removes permission barriers, allows the widest distribution of knowledge.

Before considering which Creative Commons license best meets this
requirement, it is worth considering the role of copyright in general.
We should ask whether copyright even has a valid function in the
context of science and scholarship. Ideas, principles and scientific
results aren’t protected by the copyright. And reputation is the currency in science, not money. No researcher needs an incentive (such as that provided in copyright law) to do research or to publish his results. Copyright, with its restrictions, simply isn’t an appropriate instrument in this sector. “The only constraint on reproduction and distribution, and the only role for copyright in this domain,” says the Budapest Open Access Initiative (2001), “should be to give authors control over the integrity of their work and the right to be properly acknowledged and cited.”

The Creative Commons Attribution license (CC BY) is the license
which best fits this description—as well as the criteria of the other
authoritative Open Access definitions of Bethesda and Berlin (2001-
2003), and the definition of the Open Knowledge Foundation [1]. CC
BY is the “little brother” of the public domain; it makes re-use as easy as possible (the attribution requirement is not a significant barrier).

Furthermore, CC BY is accepted as the means of ensuring libre open
access by the most prestigious open access publishers: Public Library of Science and BioMedCentral (now part of Springer). If Hindawi and other publishers who use the CC BY license are included, there must be thousands of authors using the license (keep in mind that, since 2003, PloS has published since nearly 50,000 articles). If there are problems with this license, they are not apparent.

Others say that other Creative Commons licenses/terms, like No Derivatives or Non-Commercial Use, are just as appropriate for open content. However:

• No Derivatives (ND) isn’t an option for scholarly publications. Scholars and scientists build upon the work of their
predecessors, to stand on their shoulders. To forbid derivative
works doesn’t make sense if science and scholarship are to be
seen as collaborative work.

• Non-Commercial Use (NC) isn’t an option either. To choose a
non-commercial license would mean that, e.g., an image in a
CC BY-NC journal could not be re-used in a scholarly journal
published by a commercial publisher. Course pack use of NC
articles is also problematic if the university acts commercially
and charges for the course. And let’s not forget: commercial
use can mean more impact for a work.

CC BY also solves the problem of orphan (or semi-orphan) works.
Some countries like Germany don’t have full copyright transfer to
publishers. Contacting authors is therefore necessary in order to obtain re-use rights. However, it can be difficult to find scientific authors because of the common use of initials instead of first names in article metadata. And in the humanities (which do use first names) it isn’t always easy to get current contact information 10 or more years after an article is published.

There is, I must concede, some loss of control for authors when using the CC BY license. One can, for example, publish a translation of an article without asking the author, and the author may not like the translation. But this is a minor disadvantage given the great potential of this license. To quote Google in regard to its Public Domain Books: “Your imagination is the limit.” We cannot know the possible benefits in the next decades but we know (especially from the example of orphan works) that permission barriers are evil.
The “all rights reserved” approach isn’t a substitute for ethical conduct in science or scholarship. The CC BY license is the expression of a culture of respect and appropriate attribution, while “all rights reserved” is a ridiculous attempt to try to control things you cannot control and to ignore the fact that the rules of the copyright system and the rules of the research community are different. All research results should be made CC BY (and all data CC 0).

If open access, then libre open access. If libre open access, then CC


The journal editors have omitted the following link:

Further reading: AGB

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