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Advice for Authors on Negotiating With a Publisher About CC Licenses

Cameron Parkins, March 30th, 2009

Cory Doctorow points us towards an excellent essay from the team behind Digital Foundations on ten key steps to negotiating a CC-licensed release with a large scale publisher:

4. Pitch it with facts

Use case studies to argue with facts. It also helps for them to see that other reputable publishers have licensed books Creative Commons. O’Reilly has some a study on an Asterisk book that we used very effectively.

http://radar.oreilly.com/archives/2007/06/free_downloads.html

The Asterisk book sold 19k copies over two years (about what comparable books from O’Reilly were selling), but was downloaded 180,000 times from *one* of the 5 sites that mirrored it.

Also consider google as arbiter:

Results from google search breakdown of references to the two books in the oreilly case study (at the time of negotiation, early 2008):
asterisk: 139,000 references in 2 years (2005-2007), or 70,000 per year

understanding the linux kernel, 42,000 references in 7 years (2000-2007), 6,000 per year

So there was 10x the press/blog/reference/hits for the CC licensed book.

Treading the sometimes delicate waters of negotiating a CC license with those immediately apprehensive to the idea is difficult at the very least – this type of information, from those who have gone through the process, is invaluable. While the Digital Foundations piece focuses on print publishing, the information therein is applicable across media formats, especially when combined with our ever growing case study database.

We would be remiss not to mention James Boyle’s thoughts on the matter, particularly regarding his experience in licensing The Public Domain: Enclosing The Commons of the Mind under a CC BY-NC-SA license.

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