Open Textbook Community Advocates CC BY License for Open Textbooks

Published on November 4th, 2016

Members of the Open Textbook community signed a joint statement today advocating the use of the CC BY license when creating open textbooks.

NEWS RELEASE – November 4, 2016, from Rebus Community

We, the undersigned, are active in the creation, dissemination, and adoption of Open Textbooks and Open Educational Resources (OER) throughout the world. Our projects, collectively, have involved hundreds of textbooks, thousands of OER, and millions of students. We believe the most appropriate license for open textbooks is the Creative Commons Attribution International (CC BY) license*.  

Our organizations share a mission to foster a vibrant OER ecosystem in which anyone can exercise the “5Rs” legal rights to: retain, reuse, revise, remix and redistribute open textbooks and other OER. The CC BY license makes it easier for all of us to achieve our objective: a world where open textbooks and OER can be easily remixed to meet local education needs.

This is why we believe that the CC BY license is the ideal Creative Commons license for open textbooks:

  • The CC BY license is easy to understand and follow, requiring simply that  attribution be provided to an open textbook author(s).
  • Content with a CC BY license can be remixed** with all non-ND CC licenses, making it easier to remix others’ OER into an open textbook.
  • We believe an ND (no-derivatives) licensed textbook is not an open textbook, because ND licenses do not allow two of the five Rs: revising and remixing.
  • The NC license also reduces remix options.
  • The SA license reduces remix options.
  • The NC license often causes confusion, and limits the spread, adoption and use of OER. Creators should consider carefully whether their reasons for using a NC license justify the limitations it will impose on users.  
    • Take this lawsuit***, for instance, where an NC license has been used to claim that OER cannot be printed by a commercial print shop for use in classrooms.
    • Some Colleges have assumed that because they charge tuition, they can’t use NC-licensed OER. Others worry about printing and selling (cost recovery only) NC-licensed open textbooks.
As organizations committed to OER and open textbooks, we jointly pledge to promote the CC BY license as the open license of choice when producing open textbooks and other OER.

Mary Burgess
Executive Director

David Ernst
Executive Director
Open Textbook Network

Hugh McGuire
Executive Director
The Rebus Community for Open Textbook Creation

David Wiley
Chief Academic Officer
Lumen Learning


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