I'm about to publish a paper. It will be in PDF format. I want others to copy and share that file. But I don't want them to modify the content.

What copyright license I should use for that?


The CC-ND license seems to be what you are looking for. However, Sec. 2(a) has two conditions, one allowing copying and distribution of the unmodified original (as stated in A), but also allows the user to modify but not distribute a modified version of the work (they may "produce and reproduce, but not Share, Adapted Material"). This would mean that a reader could rewrite your paper, as long as they keep it to themselves. If this bothers you, I think you could not rely on a standard named license, instead you'd have to provide your own – such as CC-ND 4.0 without clause (2)(a)(B).

Rewriting a legal document is a risky proposition, even for a legal professional, because you have to carefully think through all of the implications of any new punctuation, adjectives, and deletions. If you contemplate deleting clause (2)(a)(B), you should come up with a line of reasoning that compels you do delete it in order to accomplish your goal, and check that the deletion doesn't thwart that goal. That is why people pay money to lawyers (and also why you need to make your goal clear to that lawyer, lest the agreement be inconsistent with your goal).

  • Do note that if you're not a legal professional, modifying existing licenses to suit your own needs can lead to unintended consequences. See How can a "crayon" license be a problem? – Michael Seifert Jul 12 '18 at 14:40
  • Note also that changing a CC license means you can't refer to it as one any more (no logo or marks or naming it as such). – Nij Jul 12 '18 at 22:10

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