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Expanded Copyright (self-paced course)

Self-paced course for faculty and staff to learn the aspects of copyright law that affect higher education. It's intense - if you want something lighter, please go to the Intro to Copyright videos on Learnscape.

Convincing a Publisher to Allow A Creative Commons License??!

Since books aren't published on the same economic model or platform as journals, they aren't affected by Open Access.

One thing you could do is self-publish a book with a Creative Commons license on it and simply not charge for digital copies. However, this has major downsides:

  • Because libraries acquire tens or hundreds of thousands of books a year, books aren't picked title by title. Instead, they submit information about the topics and academic levels in which they're collecting, and the publishers send them books that match that profile. Similar things happen in bookstores. This means that without a publisher, your book won't find a market as easily.

  • More importantly for scholarly works, other scholars will look to your publisher to see what your focus is and how "serious" or "reputable" your work is. If you don't have a publisher, the information you're putting out there is either no information, or worse, "I couldn't get published with a real publisher."

So only use this model for creative writing, fiction, and non-scholarly non-fiction when you think you will be able to find your own market online. 

The better idea is to choose an appropriate scholarly publisher (a university press) and see if you can negotiate to either

  • retain the right to self-archive, just like you would for an article
  • put the work in the Creative Commons, which would automatically give you the right to self-archive

You may not get anywhere with this, but it doesn't hurt to negotiate for what you want. 

Otherwise, Try For Other Author Rights

Even if you can't successfully negotiate an author agreement that allows you to retain self-archiving rights or put the work in the Creative Commons, there are some other rights that you need to negotiate for.

  • Out of Print Clause - if your book goes out of print (probably because your publisher has stopped making money on it) the right to publish it should revert to you.
  • Does the publisher own the right to publish it as an ebook or a print on demand book just because they're publishing the print version? Not necessarily! Make sure it is very clear, and advantageous to you. If you can retain ebook rights, you've got the right to self-archive. (You'll probably have to edit and format your original draft yourself though.)