Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

U-M Library adopts new Creative Commons license

he U-M Library has adopted a new Creative Commons license for its website content.

This new license, Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY), allows others to copy, distribute, transmit and adapt MLibrary website content as long as they attribute the library, but not in any way that suggests that MLibrary endorses users or their use of the work.

MLibrary’s first Creative Commons license, adopted in 2008, was a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial (CC-BY-NC) license, which barred any commercial use or repurposing of its Web content. Two years later, MLibrary began to reconsider this commercial restriction.

“It seemed that for some people the term ‘noncommercial’ implied ‘anti-commerce.’ That wasn’t the message we wanted to send,” says Melissa Levine, MLibrary’s lead copyright officer. “After some careful consideration, and in consultation with all library personnel, we concluded that dropping the commercial restriction would encourage broader use of our educational resources, which was really our intent when we switched to the Creative Commons license in the first place.”

Some exclusions remain: licensed content, material used by permission or under fair use, staff member profile photographs, and for privacy reasons photographs in which students, staff or faculty at U-M are easily identifiable. “These exclusions make practical and legal sense,” Levine says. “We respect the copyrights and privacy of others and freely share what we make.”

Mike Linksvayer, vice president of Creative Commons, believes MLibrary to be the first major research library to adopt the CC-BY license. “Many other people and projects have dropped the noncommercial condition from their licenses as they‘ve gotten more comfortable with and reaped the benefits of openness, but the U-M Library is the most prominent so far. As other institutions follow, this leadership will be seen as an important marker in the history of increasing access to and collaboration around educational and research materials.”

According to Paul Courant, university librarian and dean of libraries, the CC-BY license change “offers the U-M community and the public a rich set of educational resources free from barriers to their use and repurposing.” Among these resources are bibliographies, research guides, lesson plans and technology tutorials. Courant says, “It also demonstrates MLibrary’s ability and willingness to lead the way toward open access in scholarship, on this campus and beyond.”