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Creative Commons

(1) New system of ‘copyleft’ licensing aimed at flexible handling of copyright protection for all kinds of creative work. As opposed to copyright and digital rights management. (2) The nonprofit organization managing and promoting this system.

Although many authors are disturbed by the potential of Open Access to restrain their freedom to publish, few oppose (or show much interest in) calls for a reform of copyright. To date the most successful challenge to traditional copyright has come from Creative Commons, a new system of ‘copyleft’ licensing aimed at flexible handling of copyright protection for all kinds of creative work. It relies on the Open Access movement for much of its raison d’être.

Creative Commons licensing aims to develop new ways in which authors can define and limit exactly those rights that they reserve, while allowing other rights to be freely available. The aim, to quote the organization behind Creative Commons, is ‘cooperative and community-minded, but our means are voluntary and libertarian. We work to offer creators a best-of-both-worlds way to protect their works while encouraging certain uses of them – to declare “some rights reserved”.’

Publishers, on the other hand, are implacably opposed to such initiatives as – unlike Open Access – they actually undermine the whole business model upon which publishing is based. For this reason, usage of Creative Commons is spreading but generally only among self-publishers and those presses and journals offering free content (often because it is the author who pays).

More details at the main Creative Commons website but you may find a clearer and less intimidating explanation on Wikipedia.

This definition is extracted (and expanded on) from the book Getting Published: A Companion for the Humanities and Social Sciences by Gerald Jackson and Marie Lenstrup. It was first referred to in the blog Getting Published in a post on reasons for self-publishing.

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