Using open licenses

You can use open licenses to encourage free use of your own work. LibraOpen and LibraETDs makes it easy to use Creative Commons (CC) licenses, but many other kinds of open licenses exist. Here are some key facts and resources about open licenses:

  • Open licenses allow copyright holders to grant blanket permission to the public to make free use of their works, so long as the use meets certain conditions (such as attribution, or refraining from commercial exploitation).
  • CC licenses in particular are a key tool of the Open Access movement, which works to expand free online access to scholarship. Learn more about support for Open Access at UVA here. The Authors Alliance has a helpful FAQ about open access for authors here.
  • Open licenses are irrevocable—once you publish your work to the web with an open license attached, anyone who complies with the license is free to use your work accordingly. If you change your mind, you can’t stop someone who has already relied on the license. So, think carefully about whether you want to make your work available in this way before you choose an open license.
  • Deciding whether to use an open license can be a source of anxiety for some graduate students, who worry that openly-licensed or openly available versions of their work may reduce their future chances of publication. The CUNY Graduate Center has developed a guide for graduate students confronting anxiety about open access to their work.
  • Once you have decided to use an open license, think carefully about which license to use. The preprint publisher ASAPBio has a helpful graphic showing “How open” the different licenses are, along with FAQs about licenses generally.
  • You can learn much more about CC licenses generally at the Creative Commons website.
  • Although Creative Commons is the most well-known suite of licenses for textual and artistic works, there are many other varieties of free or open licenses, including specialized licenses for software and data. A wiki definition of “free cultural work” and a list and taxonomy of free licenses is available here.