Suboptimal/missing Open Licences by Wiley and Royal Society


Well Wiley has just proudly announced its first Open Access Journals They’re not cheap for author-side fees (Brain and Behaviour == 2500 USD – higher than the others – presumably it’s easier to tap brain researchers for money).

What has upset me is that the licence is CC-NC. No commercial use.

Now I’ll be very generous and assume that Wiley isn’t aware of the real problems of CC-NC. If they aren’t they should read my blog post:

which also points to definitive sources.

CC-NC is apparently attractive, but actually completely restrictive for anything I want to do.

  • The material cannot be used for teaching as that can be construed as commercial (especially in private universities)
  • It cannot be put on web-pages which carry adverts
  • It cannot be used for text- or data-mining which is openly published because a commercial company might read my paper or website and use it
  • All derivative works must carry CC-NC
  • And worst of all it violates the Budapest Open Access Declaration (and the Open Definition)

I doubt VERY much whether it is the intention of the AUTHORS to forbid commercial use of their material. Effectively they would be saying

“I don’t want a manufacturer of medical equipment to use any pictures from Brain and Behaviour without paying WILEY money” (remember dear reader that the AUTHOR gets nothing.”

So, Wiley, I am in a good mood and assume this was a mistake. It would be very nice if you were able to respond to this post (you WILL read it, I know).

There’s a similar case at the Royal Society. Now they already publish Open Biology under CC-BY 3.0 so they know about licences. They’ve recently made all their historical content FREE, which is absolutely stunning ( ), but there is no explicit licence. I have also heard that there are actually still paywalls in place for this material.

Please, Royal Society, tell us you simply forgot to add CC-BY on the splash pages and the articles. Because then we can use them for teaching, etc. with a clear legal conscience.

And we can then do some exciting things with the Bibliography!



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12 Responses to Suboptimal/missing Open Licences by Wiley and Royal Society

  1. Mike Taylor says:

    Peter, what is your position on the SA (Share-Alike) clause in CC licences? As a computer programmer by profession, I am very familiar with the GNU Genera Public Licence, which probably invented and at least popularised the “copyleft” idea of restricting free software only in requiring that all derivatives must be similarly free. Is this appropriate for journal articles? My gut instinct is yes, but obviously the notion of “derivative works” is very different for academic research articles from how it applies to software.

    • pm286 says:

      CC-SA-BY is compliant with the Open Knowledge Definition. I don’t like it because it introduces recursive condition for all derivative works. It puts an extra onus on the receiver of CC-SA to apply these conditions (which may not always be very clear and which may be complex). But it is compliant whereas CC-NC is not

      • Mike Taylor says:

        “I don’t like it because it introduces recursive condition for all derivative works.”
        Well, OK, but that of course is a feature rather than a bug. Its goal is precisely to ensure that what is once made free remains free, and can’t be taken by someone else to make something proprietary. My favourite soundbite in favour of the GNU GPL is this: “Saying GPL is less free because it forbids proprietary derivatives is like saying the United States is less free because it forbids slavery”. Isn’t that freedom one we’re willing to forego?
        (The quote, by the way, is from a Slashdot commenter going by “Ogerman”, but I have been unable to discover his or her real name or establish contact.)

  2. baoilleach says:

    Agree about NC. I just don’t get it. If someone figures out how to make money off the back off your paper, more power to them. That would increase the prestige of the journal, for example.
    However, is the copyright retained by the author? If so, does this mean that the author can make a version available under a different license if she chooses?
    Regarding Mike’s point, my opinion is that SA (and by extension copyleft software licenses) is not appropriate in science. Anything that restricts the usage of a scientific work (be it software or a paper) is holding back science.

    • pm286 says:

      The first two articles have:
      “© 2011 The Authors. Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc.” which would sugges that your idea might be theoretically possible. However the authors may also have signed additional contracts. I think the author could choose to make anoth CC-BY copy but possibly not of the final article. (There’s lots of stuff about how you have to link back to Wiley)

  3. Adding a CC-BY license to materials which are in the PUBLIOC DOMAIN is COPYFRAUD!!
    BTW: Photographs and copyright protected diagrams in Wiley NC-journals cannot be used in another Wiley-Journal because journal publishing by commercial publishers like Wiley is clearly commercial.

    • pm286 says:

      >>Adding a CC-BY license to materials which are in the PUBLIOC DOMAIN is COPYFRAUD!!
      You are right. If the work is esteablished to be public domain then it should have PDDL or CC0

      • Mike Taylor says:

        Well, not entirely right. It a work is in the public domain, then you have ALL rights to it, including the right to make a proprietary derivative. I would be within my rights to retitle Moby Dick as Moby Fred, change all references to whales to rabbits, subtitute my name for Melville’s, and sell copied of it as a copyrighted work owned by me.
        (It’s precisely in order to avoid this kind of abuse, of course, that the Share-Alike option exists.)
        As for whether CC-NC photos published in one Wiley journal can be re-used in another: that depends who the copyright holder is. If, as is usually the case, the author has signed away copyright to the publisher, than that publisher can do whatever the hell it likes with the work, including re-using it elsewhere.

  4. It’s right that claiming the copyright of PD materials is COPYFRAUD. Feel free to read the new Mazzone book before making irrelevant comments.
    The AUTHOR cannot use the NC pictures and outside of Wiley noboday who publishes in a commercial journal from e.g. Elsevier can use them.

    • Mike Taylor says:

      I suppose it depends on what you mean by your term COPYFRAUD. If you by that you mean that proprietary derivatives of public domain materials, and other materials made available under very permissive licences, are morally wrong, then there is at least a case to be made. But if you mean that proprietary derivatives are illegal, then no. This happens all the time: for example, MacOS X is a proprietary derivative of BSD Unix.
      Regarding re-use of NC pictures: the copyright holder (whether that is the original creator, or a publisher who she has handed it over to) can do what it darned well likes with the material whose copyright it holds. It is not bound by the licences by which it makes that material available to other parties.

  5. 1. It is clear what the term Copyfraud means, read
    Tagging a PD work with a CC license is COPYFRAUD and – at least according German law (UWG) – not legal.
    2. It was absolutely right what I wrote on the Wiley re-use. The point is that a commercial publisher chooses a non-commercial license and makes it thus impossible for other scholarly jornals to re-use the pictures. Wiley may “overrule” the CC license if and only if a copyright transfer allows it.

    • pm286 says:

      Thanks Klaus,
      I agree with 2 if the licence is held by the authors and there is no additional contract between the authors and Wiley.
      On 1 we have a problem. I accept what you say. If someone copyfrauds a PD work and asserts that this is the only copy then I agree that is copyfraud. It would be less clear if the author copied the PD work (allowed) made minor adjustments (allowed) and then coprighted that (?allowed, I think). If they indicated that the original was PD then would it still break laws? “This copyrighted work is a derivative of the PD work X”.

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