Licensing Your Open Textbook
New open textbooks created at Ryerson should ideally should be released with a CC-BY 4.0 International license.
A page called “About the Book” should be added to the front matter including the following sentence about licensing:
Information about licensing should also be added to the book information section of PressBooks. This information will then appear as the footer on each page of the online version.
Licensing an Adaptation
If you are adapting an existing open textbook, your additions can be released with a CC-BY license, but the rest of the book must be released under the license of the original book. In other words, you need to respect the license of the original work. You can only attach a CC-BY license to the parts of the book you have created.
However, if the textbook you are adapting has a Share-Alike license attached to it, you can only release the book with the same license as the original. 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.
- In the preface of the book there should be a statement that makes it clear that the book is a derivative of an original textbook.
- There should also be a list of what changes were made so readers know exactly what parts are new and what parts are from the original source.
As an example, in the preface of the book, you could say:
The following example shows a license for a modified textbook hosted by the BCcampus Open Textbook library:
Remember to include a summary of the substantial changes you made to the textbook. You don’t have to note small things, like fixing spelling mistakes or minor stylistic changes. Concentrate on acknowledging 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 replaced 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 or an electronic version, so avoid using page numbers as references. Instead, use topics and chapters as reference points.
Don’t make it too complicated
Track all your changes within reason. If you are making a major revision and you try to be exhaustive with your attributions, the task can quickly become onerous. Creative Commons has a guide called Best Practices for Attribution, which says that while you should try to attribute as clearly as possible, attribution should not be too complicated. Since the goal of many Creative Commons licences is to make remixing and reusing of content easier, if you are heavily adapting content the expectation is that you make a “reasonable” effort to document the origin of the material. Don’t sweat it if you make more general attributions, as long as all your sources end up on your reference list at the end! You can also use a traditional academic mode of citation if you find that easier.
Attribution: “Licensing for a Newly Created Open Textbook” from the BC Open Textbook Authoring Guide. “Licensing an Adaptation” from the BC Open Textbook Adaptation Guide. Changes made to customize to Ryerson University. New section “Don’t make it too complicated.”