Creative Commons: Making Scholarly Articles Visible

My article, The rise and rise of Creative Commons, written by Cameron Neylon, is about the organization Creative Commons, as the title suggests.  This is a non-profit organization that allows a large quantity of licensed works to be shared for free.  The purpose of this organization is to share content that would otherwise be restricted for users who do not subscribe to it.  This allows for the spread of information and knowledge.  The article states that this Creative Commons has 1.2 million pieces of scholarly work licensed to be shared freely throughout the world.  The author argues that all companies and organizations that currently restrict their content to subscribers should instead use Creative Commons because it will improve the information available to the world.

I disagree with Neylon because most of these organizations make money off subscriptions, and that is how they continue to exist.  If they were forced to make all of their content free to access, they would eventually cease to exist and not be able to publish their information, which would in turn decrease the amount of information available to the community.  I do understand why he argues for Creative Commons and agree that it is a great idea, but it is just not practical for organizations that rely on subscriptions for income to make all of their content free.

This is also related to the “invisible web” that we talked about last week because content hidden behind subscription walls is not available to search engines, and therefore less likely to be found. I do not know if Creative Commons content can be found by search engines, but I am sure it has a much better chance than subscription content.  It would be much easier to access these scholarly articles if they were free because they could be linked to and found by the search engine “spiders.”


One thought on “Creative Commons: Making Scholarly Articles Visible

  1. Cameron Neylon

    Hi, thank for the comment. Just to be clear, I wasn’t saying that all subscription publishers should make subscription content available under a CC license, but that where scholarly content is made freely available online that CC licenses are better than any bespoke alternative. The question of publishers shifting from subscription business models to new ones that support accessible content is separate to the question of what license to use for those that are accessible. But I don’t say that all subscription content should be made CC. I’d like that but its not a viable step right now. The first step is that where content is freely accessible that it uses the right kind of license.

    There is an interesting question as to whether making content freely available damages subscription business models. Lots of people assume this is true, and it probably is in at least some closed access content businesses, but there is at least some evidence that for subscription business in scholarly publishing that making content available in some form is neutral and even possibly beneficial. Certainly there is some evidence that where content is free online in some form it can increase access through paid channels (such as print, special functionality e).



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