7 Step 5: Publish Textbook

This step is applicable if you plan to publish your edited textbook for use beyond your classroom.

How to Give Attribution

The open license you choose will depend on how the textbook you adapted was licensed. For example, if the original textbook was licensed with a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (CC BY-SA) license, then you must release your book with the same license to ensure it is compliant with the terms of use. For more information from Creative Commons, go to How to Give Attribution.

If you need additional help, a librarian may be able to offer more information about how Creative Commons licenses work together.

Art and Image Attribution

If you decide to publish your new textbook with an open license, you must ensure that all of the material within it is openly licensed.

Sometimes openly licensed textbooks include art and images that are not openly licensed. This means the textbook isn’t truly an open textbook. Even if the author got permission from the artist to include an image, there’s no way for others to know the details of the permission agreement. For example, perhaps the artist gave permission for one-time use. All content in an open textbook must be open, and assigning a legal, open license is the only way to ensure that’s the case.

If you’re modifying an existing textbook, it’s important to resolve any image licensing issues before you publish your version. This means replacing any images that are not openly licensed with ones that are. Here are a few resources:

Google’s Advanced Image Search lets you filter by usage rights as well as image size and type, color, format, region, and more.

In Flickr, you can browse or search through images under each type of Creative Commons license. Bing also allows you to filter images by license type.

Creative Commons offers a search tool for images, videos, music, and other media.

Wikipedia’s public-domain image resources

In addition, the British Library has released more than one million images into the public domain. The New York Public Library Digital Collections has more than 700,000 items from its collections online. The library indicates when a work is in the public domain or has “no known U.S. copyright restrictions.”

If you have questions about an image, Tineye Reverse Image Search and Google Reverse Image Search are good places to find information about the origin and license of an image.

Making the Textbook Findable

Depending on how much content you’ve changed or added, you may want to add your new textbook files to open libraries and repositories. For example:

Note that each library and repository may have requirements of its own with respect to file types and other specifications. The Open Textbook Library, for example, catalogs the book of record and not derivatives. However, if you create a textbook that includes significant new content in addition to previously shared content, it may meet the library’s criteria.

Soliciting Feedback

If you publish an open textbook, consider creating a pathway to invite feedback. You may want to crowd-source copyediting through error reporting, for example. Many authors also want to track adoptions and invite peer reviews.


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Modifying an Open Textbook: What You Need to Know Copyright © 2016 by Open Education Network is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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