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Changes in the book trade 7


Creative Commons | Changes in the book trade

The current situation in the book trade is one of rapid change. It's important for writers to understand what is happening as it will impact on their own chances of getting their work published and how it will be published. This series is looking at the changes in the book trade, with a different focus each week. The first article dealt with the bookselling world, the second article looked at publishing, the third focused on print on demand and the fourth on self- publishing. The fifth dealt with Writers routes to their audiences and the sixth article looked at copyright under pressure. The seventh deals with Creative Commons.

Creative Commons

Creative Commons is an innovative new way of licensing material which makes it widely available and also protects and controls the license given.

Creative Commons itself is a non-profit organisation which now has 30 affiliates in different countries. Already 150 million Creative Commons licences have been taken up and used by creators over the past four years, with a vast potential still to come.

Its aim is to promote the free sharing of intellectual property worldwide. It provides creators with off-the-peg licences to attach to their work online, which give clear instructions as to how they wish to allow it to be used.

The project is funded by donations from Google, Microsoft, the Rockefeller Foundations and contributions from the Amazon Honor system.

There are six main licences, from 'Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives' (which allows a whole work to be reproduced without allowing changes) to 'Attribution by' which allows others to distribute, remix, tweak and build upon the work, even for commercial gain, as long as they credit the original creator.

Perhaps the most useful one might be the 'Attribution Non-commercial Share Alike', which enables anyone to re-use or distribute the work, as long as they attribute it in the manner specified. It may not be re-used for commercial purposes.

The search engine is able to look for everything in Creative Commons in a search on a website, so that you could, for instance, find a sub-set of material which could be used for commercial purposes. This should enable authors to get additional exposure for their work and sell more books.

Anyone making content available online may download a licence (with its own logo) and attach it to the work, which could be a book, a part of a book, an image or an audio-file, so it is easy to use.

Using this new form of licence would make a huge difference to what people could do in developing countries. A demonstration project is planned for South Africa and Uganda.

A CC licence lets the author stay in control of their own copyright. It opens up ways for consumers to experience their work, whilst protecting authors from others who might seek to profit from it. It presents a way of working towards a future which uses copyright in an innovative way, improving access to material across the world, whilst protecting it.

Of all the profound changes going on in the worlds of writing, publishing and bookselling, this is the one which gives one the most hope that technology will help to deliver a positive future for writers and readers.

Chris HolifieldManaging director of WritersServices; spent working life in publishing,employed by everything from global corporations to start-ups; track record includes: editorial director of Sphere Books, publishing director of The Bodley Head, publishing director for start-up of upmarket book club, The Softback Preview, editorial director of Britain’s biggest book club group, BCA, and, most recently, deputy MD and publisher of Cassell & Co. She is also currently the Director of the Poetry Book Society; During all of this time aware of problems faced by writers, as publishing changed from idiosyncratic cottage industry, 'occupation for gentlemen', into corporate business of today. Writers encountered increasing difficulty in getting books edited or published. Authors create the books which are the raw material for the whole business. She believes it is time to bring them back to centre stage.


Changes in the Book Trade

1 Bookselling

2 Publishing

3 Print on demand and the long tail

4 Self-pubishing - 'really great' or career suicide?

5 Writers' routes to their audiences

6 Copyright under pressure

From the WritersServices site:

Creative Commons, an article by Frances Pinter

Creative Commons in Inside Publishing, a longer version of this article