I am working on an open-access textbook. I have the permission of an author to use material from a previously published book from 20 years ago which the publisher returned the rights to digital publication. Is there a best practice for establishing that something has been released under an open-access license? I am using excerpts from the book and citing all of them and indicating the CC-BY-etc status we've agreed upon by the authors. They are near retirement and their website could someday disappear so I am putting up PDF copies of their original book on a data repository (Open Science Framework) and adding citation information and CC-BY-... info.

UPDATE: Some relevant additional information

  1. I'm currently integrating the material into a CC-BY project and using the material based on an agreement via email. The authors and I want to make a definitive release of the material under the license we discussed, separate from its appearance in my project.
  2. The original authors are emeritus/near retirement, so I'm looking for a way to establish that the materials are CC-BY-... for myself and the broader community
  3. Related to the above point, the web presence of the original authors may decay/go away when they fully retire
  • 1
    I don't understand what you mean by the sentence in bold (i.e. the question). "Best practice for establishing" makes little sense to me. Sorry. Can you clarify?
    – Buffy
    Commented May 3, 2022 at 16:27
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    @Buffy I believe OP is asking how to properly document that the content they are posting was released under the license that they say it is. (OP: would still be good to clarify this, if indeed this is what you are looking for) I worry this is drifting into the legal advice realm a bit, though.
    – Bryan Krause
    Commented May 3, 2022 at 18:30
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    Release in a repository seems the right thing to do. Arxiv is another option. When submitting to Arxiv, you have to indicate a license. Commented May 4, 2022 at 6:58
  • The answers to your question are in creativecommons.org/faq/… creativecommons.org/faq/… Commented May 5, 2022 at 23:45
  • I have voted to close because this is not about academia. The answer would be the same if you were creating a work of popular fiction or a meme or a film. Commented May 5, 2022 at 23:45

1 Answer 1


If all you mean is how do you make it clear that it is proper to republish the work, then just put a notice at the beginning of it to that effect, naming the original publisher and noting that rights to digital publication were returned to the authors.

Probably, but not necessarily, the original publisher still holds the fundamental copyright so you should also make that clear. Or make clear what the copyright status is.

But a statement in the work itself is the way to "advertise" the facts. Keep any paperwork in case you are ever questioned about it.

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