Why ACRL uses Creative Commons licenses and opposes STM association model licenses

small_bannerThe Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) recently joined a letter opposing a set of model licenses released by the International Association of Scientific, Technical & Medical Publishers (STM). The signatories of the letter call on the STM association to withdraw the model licenses and recommend to its member publishers that they work within the Creative Commons framework instead of offering their own customized open access licenses. These licenses increase confusion and decrease interoperability as they are not compatible with any of the globally used Creative Commons licenses — the de facto global standard for open content licensing, adopted by a broad-based community.

As part of our commitment to transforming scholarship, all articles in ACRL’s scholarly research journal College & Research Libraries are published under a Creative Commons (CC) BY-NC license. The association feels that publishing under a CC license promotes openness and allows for research to be used in a variety of ways both in the library and information science field and beyond. Our members, strong advocates for innovation in scholarly communication, understand the importance of Creative Commons licensing and appreciate the ability to publish their research with CC licenses through their association. ACRL has published approximately 125 peer reviewed scholarly articles under the CC BY-NC license since 2012. Our commitment to innovation through transparent licensing extends to our news magazine, book, research report, and white paper publishing program as well, where we allow article, chapter and report authors to indicate the use of a CC license as part of their publication agreement with ACRL.

Creative Commons licenses are designed to be easy to read, easy to use, they effectively complement copyright, and they enjoy broad support across a wide range of scholarly and creative communities. The STM association’s proposed open access model licenses are unnecessary and overly complex. They introduce restrictions to control uses that should either be considered fair uses or are outside of the exclusive rights of copyright holders: e.g., non-expressive use in data mining and terms that would control how works are interpreted.  They would place additional burdens on authors to police down-stream uses and enforce third-party copyrights. Vague requirements like “maintain the integrity of the Work/Article” are difficult to interpret and likely to have a chilling effect on users. These licenses will not effectively advance scholarship and they introduce confusion at a time when we most need terms that can be easily interpreted and understood. For all these reasons, ACRL believes Creative Commons licenses better serve the needs of scholarly publishers and authors and the STM association model licenses are unnecessary.

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The Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) is the higher education association for librarians. Representing more than 11,500 academic and research librarians and interested individuals, ACRL (a division of the American Library Association) is the only individual membership organization in North America that develops programs, products and services to help academic and research librarians learn, innovate and lead within the academic community. Founded in 1940, ACRL is committed to advancing learning and transforming scholarship. ACRL is on the Web at www.acrl.org/, Facebook at www.facebook.com/ala.acrl and Twitter at @ala_acrl.