Skip to Main Content

Open Access

This gude discusses open access, its significance, and how UChicago Library supports it.

Retaining Rights to Scholarship

Copyright law grants authors/creators a set of exclusive rights over their works and the ability to transfer one or more of these rights to another party:

  • The right to reproduce the work
  • The right to prepare derivative works based on the work
  • The right to distribute copies of the work to the public by sale, rental, lease, or lending
  • The right to perform the work publicly
  • The right to display the work publicly

Publishers may present authors with restrictive agreements that require their transfer of rights. As the copyright holder, authors should read the agreement carefully and consider its impact on their rights. Depending on the terms in the agreement, signing could prevent authors from distributing their work electronically and physically.

When discussing author rights, SPARC points out, "Publishing agreements are negotiable. Publishers require only your permission to publish an article, not a wholesale transfer of copyright. Hold onto rights to make use of the work in ways that serve your needs and that promote education and research activities."  In other words, authors should pay attention to their rights in their intellectual property because some publishers may prioritize their commercial interests over education, public good, and the advancement of scholarship.

SPARC has created an author addendum to help authors retain rights to their scholarly works.  More information about the addendum is available from the following video.  Other relevant resources are made available by the Authors Alliance.  If you have any questions about copyright or author rights, feel free to contact UChicago Library's Center for Digital Scholarship.

Creative Commons Licenses

As authors/creators hold the exclusive rights in their work, they can restrict the use (i.e., reproduction, distribution, display, performance and/or creation of derivatives) of their work.  For authors/creators who wish to reduce the copyright restrictions, they can apply an open license to their work.  This will inform potential users up-front under what conditions they can use the licensed work without seeking the copyright holder's permission.

Creative Commons have made available some of the most commonly used open licenses.  The following video provides an overview of six Creative Commons licenses.  For more information about them, refer to the descriptions below the video.  If you have any questions, feel free to contact UChicago Library's Center for Digital Scholarship.

Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY)

This license lets others distribute, remix, adapt, and build upon your work, even commercially, as long as they credit you for the original creation. This is the most accommodating of licenses offered. Recommended for maximum dissemination and use of licensed materials.

Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License (CC BY-SA)

This license lets others remix, adapt, and build upon your work even for commercial purposes, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms. This license is often compared to "copyleft" free and open source software licenses. All new works based on yours will carry the same license, so any derivatives will also allow commercial use.

Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives License (CC BY-ND)

This license lets others reuse the work for any purpose, including commercially; however, it cannot be shared with others in adapted form, and credit must be provided to you.

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License (CC BY-NC)

This license lets others remix, adapt, and build upon your work non-commercially, and although their new works must also acknowledge you and be non-commercial, they don’t have to license their derivative works on the same terms.

Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial-ShareAlike License (CC BY-NC-SA)

This license lets others remix, adapt, and build upon your work non-commercially, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms.

Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (CC BY-NC-ND)

This license is the most restrictive of our six main licenses, only allowing others to download your works and share them with others as long as they credit you, but they can’t change them in any way or use them commercially.

Details about using and interpreting Creative Commons licenses are available from this frequently asked questions page.