We promote open access publishing models, we have a strong history of digitizing public domain works and making them available online, and we partnered with Google to scan all of the books in our collection, even the works under copyright. Adopting a Creative Commons license for our own content - things like study guides, bibliographies, and technology tutorials - seemed like a logical next step. — Molly Kleinman
Over the past year, the University of Michigan Library has shown itself to be particularly sensible in regards to open content licensing, the public domain, and issues of copyright in the digital age. The U-M Library has integrated public domain book machines, adopted CC licensing for their content, and independently had their Copyright Specialist, Molly Kleinman, articulate the importance of proper attribution in using CC licenses. We recently caught up with Molly to learn more about these efforts - primarily how they came to be and the results they have yielded - as well as discuss CC’s place in educational institutions at large and how CC and Fair Use interact in the academic sphere.
The default for all site content is CC BY. Two years after adopting the CC BY-NC license in 2008, the library changed their licensing policy in 2010 to the more open CC BY license:
“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.”
The Library also employs the CC0 public domain dedication to waive all copyrights to its Open Access bibliographic records. As of November 17, 2010, the Library released 684,597 bibliographic records.
Attribution is tremendously important in academic research. Without properly cited sources, it is impossible for future scholars to follow the line of thinking that led to a given conclusion. Attribution is the trail of breadcrumbs that gets us back to the beginning. There is something of a plagiarism panic on college campuses, and while I think some of it is overblown, citation and attribution remain some of the first skills we teach undergraduates.
Attribution is also important from the perspective of scholars who are trying to build their careers. Young scholars want credit for their work so they can get tenure-track jobs and eventually tenure. Tenured faculty want credit so they can get more research funding. I see this as one of the selling points for Creative Commons in academic settings. U.S. law doesn’t have the framework of moral rights that exist in the U.K. and elsewhere requiring that an author always be given proper credit for a work even if she has signed away all the other rights. The attribution requirement that is the baseline in all CC licenses provides some reassurance to academic authors who may not expect to profit financially from their work but for whom credit is very important.
There is also a detailed explanation of why the library moved from CC BY-NC to CC BY in October 2010 at http://publishing.umich.edu/2011/04/13/mlibrary-creative-commons/.
What is the impact of this CC-enabled project or resource? Specifically, what has the license enabled that otherwise would not exist? Provide statistics or other data if possible.
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Provide any technical details of the implementation here