I came across this Licensing and Copyright.

By submitting to an open access agreement under Creative Commons 4.0 Attribution Non Commercial International conditions an author or creator is hereby granting IAFOR an exclusive license for the full period of copyright throughout the world, including the exclusive right to publish, distribute, or communicate your original submitted work in any IAFOR publication, whether in an online, electronic or print format, be that in whole, partial or in modified form. Authors retain originating copyright in their own work but agree to transfer the license of their work to IAFOR under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Attribution Non Commercial International conditions. All publications and digital media produced will be openly archived on the IAFOR research archive or other open access online formats or published online through IAFOR publications and/or other IAFOR media.

Is such a license possible? I don't believe you transfer the CC license to an single entity. It's granted to all is my understanding. And is it possible in such a situation for someone to retain exclusive publication rights.


3 Answers 3


Those license terms are in my view quite unclear, since a Creative Commoins license states that it irevocably grants rights to anyone who complys with the license terms, which is incomparable with an "exclusive license". Moreover, such a statement may be a violation of CC's trademark on the term "Creative Commons".

Creative Commons says: on their trademark policy page:

Modification of CC Licenses: To prevent confusion and maintain consistency, you are not allowed to use CREATIVE COMMONS, CC, the CC Logo, or any other Creative Commons trademarks with modified versions of any of our legal tools or Commons deeds, including modifications that do not modify the legal code directly but that further restrict or condition the rights granted by the particular legal tool. These modifications are often contained in a website’s terms of use, and where they are present you may not suggest that you are offering works under a Creative Commons legal tool. For the avoidance of doubt, you may not use any CC trademarks with unofficial language translations of CC licenses.

It would seem that an "exclusive license" must in some way modify the core CC license. If it does, use of the mark "Creative Commons" would seem to be a violation as per the above policy.

In any case, i would request a clearer explanation of what rights they are asking you to grant them, and in particular, do you retain the right to create and publish, or authorize others to create and publish, derivative works based on your work.


This becomes clearer once you realize that there are two licences being discussed

1. This licence between the author and the publisher

This incorporates the CC BY-NC by reference but modifies it by adding exclusivity. Where a document is incorporated by reference, the normal interpretation that any ambiguities between the referenced and the referring document are resolved by adopting the interpretation in the referring document. So this creates an exclusive licence with the other terms of the CC BY-NC being unaffected.

This appears to be a breach of the CC trademark. However, that is a matter between the publisher and CC - it does not affect the operation of the licence between the publisher and the author.

2. The CC BY-NC the publisher grants to the world (including the author)

This is unchanged and works as normal.

  • I'm failing to see how there can be exclusivity in (1). It has to precede (2), which means the author gives up some specific rights. But in step (2), the publisher grants those rights to everyone. And since that's an unmodified CC license by your logic, it can't exempt the author. So he gets back the rights given up in (1).
    – MSalters
    Commented Mar 30, 2020 at 13:40
  • 1
    @MSalters the author is now bound by CC BY-NC whereas they were previously unbound. They can’t, for example, use the work commercials now.
    – Dale M
    Commented Mar 30, 2020 at 20:16

The Creative Commons licenses are non-exclusive licenses, so that open access policy seems rather weird. Possible interpretations:

  • you give them an exclusive license (retaining no rights yourself) but they agree to license the work to the public under the non-exclusive CC license
  • they didn't want to pay a lawyer to draft a proper license and just tried to modify the CC license
  • they are open-washing their open access policy by mentioning a Creative Commond license – but note that the NonCommercial license variant is considered non-free.

In any case that licensing policy is unclear and you should seek clarification about what license you would be granting, before submitting an article.

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