Challenges

Adapting a Restricted Textbook with Permission

Some times, authors receive permission from a publisher to create a new edition/revision of a textbook or other work for which copyright is owned by the publisher and was previously released or published without the benefit of an open copyright (Creative Commons) license.

This is wonderful news. But how should one proceed? Here are some suggestions on steps to take to ensure that all is legal and correct.

Step 1: Double check copyright

Confirm that copyright is held by the publisher. If a book is available online, it might be possible to find it there and take a look at the copyright notice which typically follows or (in a printed copy) is on the back of the Title page. Publishers in this situation are typically the copyright holder for the entire book including all chapters, illustrations, images, etc.

Some publishers might prefer that the book be released using a CC BY-NC license so that they can retain the rights to sell physical copies of the book.

Step 2: Contributing authors and courtesy

When a publisher is the copyright holder for an entire book, there is no requirement to contact the contributing authors. However, you might consider doing so as a professional courtesy. It’s possible that some of these authors would like to see the new edition, and may even be interested in contributing to it.

Step 3: Confirm the agreement in writing

There are two distinct items that will be openly licensed in this situation. One is the original book. The other are the adaptations and additions made by Jane Plain and John Smith, the adapting authors.

Because the publisher is the copyright holder, they are the only ones who can release the original book under a CC BY or open copyright license. To be clear and certain that you have permission to use and release this previously restrictively licensed work with an open copyright license, ask the publisher to confirm this agreement in writing.

Step 4: Write the adaptation statement

The new edition or revision is basically an adaptation. As such, be sure to include language used for an adaptation to the copyright notice. (See Adaptation Statement for more information.) However, the difference in this situation is that the original book was not published with an open copyright license. Below is an example of how the adaptation statement might read.

Big Publishing, the copyright holder of The Basics of Biology, has agreed to release it under a CC BY license. This makes it possible for a revised second edition to be made and CC BY licensed too. Jane Plain and John Smith are the copyright holders for all revisions (2017) and agree to release their changes and additions under a CC BY license. As a result this entire second edition of The Basics of Biology is released under a CC BY license. Changes and additions made to this second revised edition, are listed below:.

A list of changes and additions follows this statement.

Step 5: Share the adaptation statement

In advance of beginning your adaptation project, it is recommended that you  spell out what the attribution statement for both the original content and the revision additions will say, and then share the attribution statement with the publisher (and maybe the contributing authors) to ensure that everyone is receiving appropriate credit.