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Papers published in JSI—Journal of Spectral Imaging are licenced using Creative Commons licences. I thought it would be helpful to give a brief introduction to these, and pick out some points that you may wish to consider when choosing a licence.

Creative Commons says that it is “... the global community that breaks down the walls that keep people from sharing their knowledge”. They have developed a number of licences that you can use to facilitate this, which use acronyms such as CC BY-NC-ND (more on these later). You retain copyright, if it is yours originally, of course: it could be your employer’s. What you are doing by licencing your work under a CC licence is to make it easier for users to make further use of your work. They can include figures, tables, even parts or all of the text in other publications! PROVIDED they acknowledge the source. This is fundamental to all CC licences and is the BY part of the acronym: by attribution. It is worth pointing out that everyone, including the original author(s), should acknowledge the source when they reuse any material. This is just good practice in any case.

JSI offers authors the choice of three CC licences: CC BY, CC BY-NC and CC BY-NC-ND. We have already covered BY. NC stands for non-commercial, which restricts reuse for primarily commercial or monetary advantage. ND stands for no derivatives; your work can only be reused (with attribution of course) unchanged and in its entirety. There is one other category of CC licences: SA, which stands for ShareAlike. This allows reuse under whatever other restrictions are in the licence provided any new licence imposed is under the same terms as the CC one. This is similar to licences used for open source software, such as the GNU GPL.

Which should you choose? First, it is important to understand the implications of using these licences, since you cannot change your mind once your paper has been published under the licence. Funding agencies that require Open Access publication of the results of work they have funded often specify use of the most open, CC BY, licence. If you are funded by one of these, the choice is simple. Similarly, your employer may have requirements. Otherwise, think of whether you wish to restrict reuse and, if so, to what degree.

Finally, the inevitable caveat. These can be complex matters and this is a very brief overview; if you are in any doubt you should take appropriate advice.

You should certainly read the various CC licences; each has a simple description and a detailed “Legal Code”.

When you are submitting your next paper to JSI, I hope this will have helped you understand some of the implications of a CC licence.