Leveraging Elsevier’s Creative Commons License Requirement to Undermine Embargo

Josh Bolick


In the last round of author-sharing policy revisions, Elsevier created a labyrinthine title-by-title embargo structure requiring embargoes from 12 to 48 months for authors sharing via institutional repository (IR), while permitting immediate sharing via an author’s personal website or blog. At the same time, all prepublication versions are to bear a Creative Commons-Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivatives (CC-BY-NC-ND) license. At the time this policy was announced, it was criticized by many in the scholarly communication community as overly complicated and restrictive. However, this CC licensing requirement creates an avenue for subverting an embargo in the IR to achieve quicker and wider open distribution of the author’s accepted manuscript (AAM). To wit, authors may post an appropriately licensed copy on their personal site or blog, at which point the author’s host institution may deposit without an embargo in the IR, not through the license granted in the publication agreement, but through the CC license on the author’s version, which the sharing policy mandates. This article outlines the background and rationale of the issue and discusses the benefits, workflows, and remaining questions.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.17161/jcel.v2i2.7415


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