PLOS has been using the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license for almost 10 years as the default for the research that it publishes. On November 25, 2013, Creative Commons unveiled the next generation of open licenses to support the sharing of content. The new licenses are the result of an open community process with stakeholders from a wide range of domains, including research, education, and the creative arts, and PLOS is proud to have been involved in the effort to make the licenses work for researchers.
Two aspects of the Version 4.0 licenses are particularly important for researchers because they address issues that could have made reuse of published research more cumbersome. Firstly, the re-use rights for data within an article are made clearer and more consistent between different countries and regions.
Second, the licenses provide flexibility on attribution. This is important for research, and particularly for text and data mining, where a multitude of articles might be analyzed together. It doesn’t make sense to list every paper analyzed with each and every search result. It does make sense to link from each result to a page recognizing all the contributions. The new licenses still absolutely require attribution but allow all attributions to a large corpus to be collected together.
Another important aspect of the new licenses is that they combine the experience of several years of developing localized license variants into one international license, ensuring global compatibility and ease of use for all researchers, wherever they may be based.
PLOS will be publishing new articles under CC BY v4.0 beginning in mid-December for PLOS ONE and from January 1, 2014 for all other PLOS journals.
The CC BY license has long been an important part of realizing our aim, of creating the largest possible pool of accessible, re-usable and interoperable research content possible. Open Access is about more than content being free to read; it must also be free to re-use, and re-combine, not just with other articles, but with all forms of research information. The new version of the Creative Commons licenses, the global standard for web based content, is an important part of the toolkit for making that vision possible.