Licensing for Open Textbook Authors & Adapters

If you are modifying or creating a textbook from scratch, please use Creative Commons licensed material. You can use copyright material in a textbook you modify or create, but you must first obtain written permission from the copyright holder to use the copyrighted material in the textbook. You must also clearly note in the textbook that the material used is copyright.
The implication of using copyright material means that anyone who wishes to use the textbook in the future must either remove the copyright material and replace with something they find, or obtain copyright permission from the original copyright owner. Using copyright material is a barrier to future reuse and limits the usage of the resource in the future. There fore, BCcampus recommends using Creative Commons material that can legally be shared and reused.

Attributing resources in either a new or adapted textbook

Attribution should occur immediately after the item is used in the book. For example, as a caption of an image. Since open textbooks can be broken apart and sections can be used by others outside the context of the finished “book”, resources should be attributed at the time of use so attribution does not get lost or dissociated from its attribution.
For more details on how to format an attribution, see best practices for attribution from the Creative Commons website for more information about how to format an attribution.

If you are authoring a new textbook

If the textbook you are working on is a new creation, the new textbook will be released with a CC-BY license.
In the Preface of the book you should add a statement about copyright belonging to the author, and that it is being released under a CC-BY license, unless otherwise noted. This otherwise noted will apply to any additional material that you have used in the creation of the textbook that you have not created yourself. This includes materials like:

  • Photographs
  • Charts
  • Tables
  • Figures
  • Multimedia content

which have been created by someone other than yourself, released under a Creative Commons license, and used by you in the creation of your textbook.

If you are adapting a textbook

If the textbook you are working on is an adaptation, the adaptations you make will be released with a CC-BY license, while the rest of the book will be released under the license of the original book. In other words, you need to respect the license of the original work. You cannot license what you do not create. You can only attach a CC-BY license to the parts of the book you have created that are new. There is a caveat. If the textbook you are modifying has a Share-Alike license attached to it, then you can only release the book with the same license that it was originally licensed as. The Share-Alike clause means that you must use the exact same license that was used in the original for ANY adaptation.
The license should be noted in a few places in the book. First, in the preface of the book there should be a statement that makes it clear that this book is a derivatives of an original textbook. There should also be a list of what changes were made in the book from the original version so people can know exactly what bits are newly created and what are from the original source.
So, in the preface of the book, you could say:

This version of Collaborative Statistics is a modified version of Collaborative Statistics by <authors name>. Changes to the original version of the book are listed at <url or page number with a summary of changes>. The original version of this book was released under a <intesert license here> and is copyright by <if original has copyright include that here>. The changes to this book listed on <insert location of summary of changes> are released under a CC-BY license and are copyright by <authors name>. You are free to use, modify or adapt any of this material providing the terms of the Creative Commons licenses are adhered to.

Here is what an adaptation license might look like. This was taken from the Modern Philosophy textbook in the open textbook collection. The only change that BCcampus made to the textbook was to create a version of it in PressBooks (a format change). However, the BCcampus format change into PressBooks was based on a modified version of an original work, meaning we have to give created to both the original author, and to the person who did the first adaptation.
Here is what the preface copyright notice looked like.

This version of Modern Philosophy is a derivative copy of Modern Philosophy created by Alex Dunn, who based his work on the original Modern Philosophy book create by Walter Ott.
This version of Modern Philosophy is released under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license. The only modifications made to this version from both the original and the modification done by Alex Dunn the original is the format has been changed. No content has been modified.
The original version of Modern Philosophy was created from public domain resources by  Walter Ott with contributors from Antonia LoLordo and Lydia Patton. Contributions not in the public domain and created by Walter, Antonia or Lydia for the original were released under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Alex Dunn’s derivative version was also released under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

Remember to include a summary of the substantial changes you made to the textbook. You don’t have to note minor things, like fixing spelling mistakes, or minor stylistic changes (although if you wanted to be thorough you could note these details). Concentrate on acknolwedgin the substantial changes. An example might look like:

The modifications from the original textbook include:

  • A new chapter (chapter 4) was added covering Feminist Theory
  • Chapter 2 was rewritten to remove references to American data and replace with Canadian data.
  • The topic “Unusual Behaviour” in Chapter 8 was modified to remove references to dyslexia

Keep in mind that the person reading this book could be viewing a printed copy with page numbers, or an electronic version with no page numbers, so do not use page numbers as references. Instead, use topics and chapters as reference points within the book.