Open Access policies: Protecting authors’ rights

This is a guest post written by Devin Soper, Paolo Mangiafico, and Kevin Smith. The letter was originally submitted to Science, which declined to publish it.

In a recent letter to the editor of Science, Ilya Kapovich states that “unsustainable ethical and legal burdens are placed on faculty in schools with Harvard-style open-access policies.” While it is true that the terms of open access (OA) policies are sometimes inconsistent with those of standard publishing contracts, this legal complexity is the result of the unnecessarily restrictive and complicated language used in such contracts, which typically require authors to assign their copyright to a publisher, and which thereby work against the interests of authors, other researchers, and the public. In contrast, Harvard-style OA policies simplify this situation for authors, making it clear that they and their home institutions retain rights in the works they create, and thereby providing a means of redressing the systemic problems caused by restrictive copyright transfer practices. In this sense, and in addition to making thousands of articles available to those who otherwise would not have access, OA policies are designed to give faculty choices, allowing them to retain more rights in their work than they would under standard publishing contracts, giving them access to a range of tools and services to help them make their work OA — and yet also giving them the option to waive application of the policy with no questions asked. Read more

Sci-Hub and the curious case of author attitudes

Sci-Hub has received a lot of attention in 2016. From multiple articles in Science and The Chronicle of Higher Education to Sci-Hub focused sessions at professional meetings, lots of folks have weighed in on the pros and cons of Sci-Hub and its undeniable impact on scholarly communication. Over the past six months I’ve attended programs on Sci-Hub at the ALA annual conference, the fall ARL membership meeting, and one here at the University of Arizona during Open Access Week. In reflecting on these experiences I’m struck by how Sci-Hub illustrates the apparent disconnect between authors’ permissive attitudes toward sharing copyrighted materials and their willingness to sign publishing agreements that often make that sharing illegal. Read more

Publishing Art History Digitally

Last week, I attended a symposium on “Publishing Art History Digitally: The Present and Future” that was sponsored in part by the NYU Institute of Fine Arts. One of the symposium organizers is a Ph.D. student with whom I’ve worked to navigate some sticky intellectual property issues related to an international collaborative digital art history project. She asked me to attend the symposium and come back the next day for an invitation-only workshop with several other symposium participants. The main focus of both the symposium and the workshop was to look at the ways art history journals are going digital and stepping into new modes of publishing and scholarship. Read more

At the edges of academic copyright

Anytime that academic authors sue each other over a journal article, it is worth attention in this space.  A couple of weeks ago, the U.S. District Court in Massachusetts ruled in such a case, and the ruling raises some interesting points to consider for those of us involved in working with scholarly publications.

Note first that this is a very fact-specific case and a decision by a district court, so it is not a control precedent for anyone other than the parties.  A decision would have more weight if this ruling were appealed, but, because the motive behind the lawsuit seems to have been more wrath than reason, I think that is unlikely. Read more

Building Open: OJS 3.0

Note to readers: This is the second post in our new series “Building Open” where we interview those who are building tools and services to support scholarship in the open.

In terms of the future, I think we still have a long way to go in determining sustainable models. APCs aren’t it, especially outside of big science and North America and Europe. Our research into open access publishing cooperatives, which brings together the major stakeholders — researchers, societies, journals, libraries, funders — is showing that this can be an important alternative model. Read more

Toward a Digital First OA Monograph

Project MUSE announced over the summer a $938,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to integrate OA university press (UP) monographs into their platform. *

Digital aggregations of UP books are becoming a key discoverability mechanism. The possibility of using linked data tools to discover content within a much larger body of humanities and social science scholarship is one of the few very clear and bright developments for UPs. After years of our printed books being relegated to the ever-dustier library stacks, our digital content is now feeding a significant corpus of highly usable humanities research and being made available in a growing number of library collections. With this grant, MUSE wants to ensure that OA content is seamlessly discoverable within these collections, rather than isolated in some segregated position. Read more

Copy shops, economics, and educational use in India

A few years ago, I was asked by the U.S. State Department to give a presentation on copyright for librarians in India.  I spoke via web conferencing to a group of Indian librarians gathered in an auditorium at the U.S. Embassy, and the session was moderated by an IP professor from Delhi University.  This moderator began the session by asking me a very challenging question; pointing out that the standard textbook that he would like to use for his class in trademark law cost more than a month’s salary for the average Indian, he asked me how the copyright balance between rights holders and the public could be calibrated in such economic conditions.  I don’t think I provided a very good answer at the time, but last week the High Court in Delhi took on that question and offered an amazing response. Read more

Library as Safe Haven

This is a guest post written by Jennifer Chan of UCLA

On June 1, 2016, UCLA’s Westwood campus was suddenly thrust into the media spotlight across the world when a shooter entered a campus building and fatally shot one of our engineering faculty. I was just days shy of my one-month anniversary as UCLA Library’s Scholarly Communication Librarian. What I knew, and what most of us on campus knew that June morning, was that “police activity” had been reported at the other end of campus. Far, but not far enough. Soon, the details began trickling in. Read more

Is VHS an obsolete format under Section 108?

Building Open: SocArXiv

Note to readers: This is the first post in our new series “Building Open” where we interview those who are building tools and services to support scholarship in the open. For our first installment, we talk to Philip Cohen of SocArXiv.

Ultimately, I do think we need to leave the old system behind, but it can work incrementally. For example, we need people to donate fewer free hours of labor (reviewing, editing, moderation, publishing) to for-profit, paywall publishers and more to open access institutions. But they can do that without completely boycotting all for-profit journals, if we build our institutions in an open and inclusive way. Read more

Open Access Infrastructure: Help on the Way?

Readers of “In the Open” are familiar with the ongoing machinations of Elsevier and other major commercial publishers as they seek to tighten their grip on elements of the scholarly communication system. As Mike Taylor points out, these developments bring to mind the underlying issue of who controls OA infrastructure, and the notion that resistance to commercial domination should be largely based on the academy establishing its own dissemination infrastructure, ideally with substantial investments from funding agencies. Recently, a new funder-supported open dissemination platform, Wellcome Open Research, has emerged as an alternative to vehicles controlled by commercial publishers, and in a separate development, the SocArXiv repository has been released as an alternative to Elsevier’s newly acquired Social Science Research Network. Wellcome Open Research in particular offers an intriguing model that raises the question of how funder and university-supported elements of OA infrastructure can coalesce into a more integrated system in the future. Read more

Copyright small claims: an update on legislation

In theory, the idea of a small claims board that could adjudicate copyrights claims where the monetary value is not too high seems sensible.  Federal litigation is very expensive and intimidating, so a small claims mechanism could make it easier for independent artists and small businesses to defend their rights.

Nevertheless, I have never been very enthusiastic about the idea, in large part because the devil is definitely in the details of any proposed scheme.  The fear is that a small claims board could become, in the words of this 2012 article about the topic from Techdirt, just “a new venue for porn companies to coerce settlements out of internet subscribers.”  If such a board appeared to be nothing other than a mechanism to make it easier not just for trolls but for Big Content in general to bully individual users and avoid the high costs of litigation, it would ultimately be harmful to the copyright balance that is already so out of whack in the U.S. Read more

Revolutionizing Scholarly Publishing

I recently went out on a limb to help a group of scholars who were trying to do a good thing but going about it in a not-so-good manner.

They wanted to curate a list of articles on a topic relating to current events and social justice. Unfortunately, they were determined to post the materials to the open web using full-text PDFs from licensed, published content.

Yes, cue the collective copyright librarian shudder. Read more

Momentum

Last month university presses came together for their annual convention in Philadelphia. This was only my fifth meeting so I lack the deep perspective that many of my colleagues in the UP world have, but I perceived signs of a shift in the center of gravity around conversations of open access. It’s a somewhat wobbly, but directionally clear migration toward engaging deeply with how OA might apply toward monographs. Read more

Are Some Fair Use Factors “More Equal” Than Others?

more equal

“Cute Little Tiny Baby Pig” by Michael Kappel CC-BY-NC

Last week, a district court judge upheld a jury’s decision that Google’s use of Java declaring code in the Android operating system was protected by fair use. If terms like “declaring code” and “application programming interface” aren’t common parlance for you, don’t worry, you’re in very good company (and may be eligible for a seat on the Federal Circuit). No matter how familiar you are with the technical details of the case, however, it offers a fascinating example of how fair use has evolved in recent years. It also suggests we take a closer look at one generally-overlooked aspect of the law: the second fair use factor. Read more

The Copyright Office off the rails

When the Copyright Office issued its Notice of Inquiry (NOI) about a “Draft Revision of the Libraries and Archives Exception in U.S. Copyright Law,” I happened to be at a large meeting of librarians. The conversation turned quickly to this new NOI, in regard to which librarians are, of course, a major stakeholder, and I learned two things.

First, the group confirmed my previous intuition that section 108 — the exception in question — still works pretty well for the limited activities it enables – copying for library preservation and for users doing private research and study (which includes interlibrary loans). Second, there is considerable mistrust of the Copyright Office in the library community. Read more

Waking from the Dream

A blog called “In the Open,” dedicated to issues for scholarship and libraries, is a logical place to engage in the ongoing and vital discussions about diversity and inclusion in our libraries and on our campuses.  Following the lead of April Hathcock’s post from last month, I offer this reflection to continue the conversation:

Many years ago, soon after we were married, my wife and I spent a year as house parents for a group of academically-talented teenage boys from disadvantaged backgrounds who, were they not part of the program that put them in better schools, would have had little chance of getting into college.  The house was, to say the least, ethnically and racially diverse.  One afternoon, one of our seniors came home upset and with his knuckles bleeding.  Corry, as I will call him, had been in a fight because another boy in the school had called him the N-word.  The details of the fight, as well as his distress at the result, convinced me that Corry had behaved as well as could be expected in the circumstances, but there were complex consequences.  For me, the most profound part of the whole episode was when I sat listening to a conversation between Corry and his father.  His father asked Corry if he understood why being called that word had upset him so, since it was common enough in music and on the basketball court.  When Corry admitted that he did not, his father explained the context and history of that epithet in his own life, which I think opened Corry’s eyes.  I know that it opened mine. Read more

On Trying Not to Worry About Piracy

A few weeks ago, it felt like the threats to the work we do at the University of North Carolina Press were coming from all directions.

At a regional SSP panel discussion, a key local collection development librarian in the audience told the university press panelists that declining purchases of our monographs was not primarily due to a lack of financial resources in libraries. Instead, he argued, their analytics indicated our books were not being used enough to justify their acquisition. Read more

Beware the Trojan Horse: Elsevier’s repository pilot and our vision for IRs & Open Access

By IO blogger Ellen Finnie with Guest co-author Greg Eow, AD for Collections, MIT Libraries

As charged discussion around Elsevier’s purchase of SSRN continued in the past week, Elsevier and the University of Florida (UF) announced a pilot that links UF’s institutional repository with Elsevier’s platform. By employing an automatic deposit of metadata about Elsevier-published UF articles into UF’s repository, with pointers to Elsevier’s site for access to the articles themselves, users of the UF institutional repository will be able to discover and, if they have authorized access, access final copies of Elsevier journals. Read more