If we publish with a CC BY-NC license, can we still sell print issues? Can our authors reuse their work commercially?

Modified on Mon, 28 Feb 2022 at 02:42 PM

A Creative Commons (CC) license is a license to the public, and it controls the rights of readers who find an article online. Neither the journal’s rights nor the author’s are controlled by the CC license.

Authors own the copyright in articles they write (assuming the article is not a work made for hire, and owned by their employer). Authors retain copyright ownership when they publish with an eScholarship journal, which is a best practice in open access publishing. Because of this, an author’s rights are not based on the CC license to the public, but instead on their rights as the copyright owner. These rights may be limited by contract — for instance, if the publication agreement signed with the journal states that the author cannot republish the article unless the journal is cited as the place of first publication — but they are generally broad and allow authors to reuse their work in a variety of ways.

Journals gain rights in an article by having the author grant the rights in a publication agreement, like the sample agreement we provide for eScholarship journals. The terms of this agreement include the right to publish the article under the journal’s chosen CC license, but they can also include much broader rights. For example, one provision might give the journal the right to publish the article with an Attribution-NonCommercial (CC BY-NC) license to the public, while another gives the journal the right to sell print copies, or license the article to a for-profit database.

If your journal’s author agreement does not grant you the rights you think your journal needs, or if you are not sure if it does, submit a ticket.