The blog of Academe Magazine. Opinions published here do not necessarily represent the policies of the AAUP.
Various talented folks and communities (e.g., the Open Knowledge Foundation and QuestionCopyright.org) believe Creative Commons should retire its NC ND clauses. Students for Free Culture argue the NC clause is “completely antithetical to free culture (it retains a commercial monopoly on the work).” Timothy Vollmer asserts the NC ND clauses should be renamed ““Commercial Rights Reserved” because this license fails to “provide for all of [these] freedoms:
Clearly, adopting an NC or ND clause is less free than adopting a CC 3.0 SA license, which permits, for example, users to benefit commercially or produce derivative works. However, this doesn’t mean a CC 3.0 NC ND is not a free license. In fact, rather than retiring the CC 3.0 NC ND, I think Creative Commons should affirm these clauses for academics. There are a good many situations where CC 3.0 NC ND is an ideal license.
For example, Writing Commons, the Open Education Resource I’m developing with help from our Editorial Board and Review Editors, uses the CC 3.0 NC ND license. Each day users from around the world access the site and use it to help with their academic writing. Since February of this year, in fact, 137,631 unique users or 157,739 users have benefitted from this site. As the content creator of the core of the book–that is the 320 essays I wrote when the book was published by Longman/Pearson–I chose the CC ND license because I didn’t want others to commercially benefit from my work. I also didn’t want to allow derivative works without a conversation. After all, if I’d chosen CC 3.0 NC and allowed derivative works, others could take the work and remix it without even mentioning the project to me. Sure, they’d have to cite me but so what? In contrast, with NC ND I still own copyright and I suppose if someone wants to use these essays for a derivative work I can still permit that after a discussion with them–or not.
Sure if my rhetorical situation were different, if I were just starting a new textbook and I wanted to crowdsource it, I can imagine choosing CC 3.0 NC SA. However, for academics like me who have spent countless hours developing a project, I think it’s understandable that we want to retain some control over our work even if we release it to the Commons. For example, as I’ve written elsewhere, I’d fear that if I didn’t use NC ND the project could be swallowed whole by a for profit business like Flat World Knowledge or nonprofit business like the California Digital Library.
Earlier, I argued that academics should considering publishing their pedagogical resources. In my opinion, academics should self publish but if they don’t want to mount a platform, then they should consider a project like Writing Commons or MIT’s Connexions–i.e., OER resources that employ CC 3.0 NC ND.