It is one of the simplest, yet most frequently misunderstood, provisions of the U.S. copyright law. Section 105 of Title 17 says that “Copyright protection under this title is not available for any work of the United States government, but the United States government is not precluded from receiving and holding copyrights transferred to it by assignment, bequest or otherwise.” A single sentence, but lots of nuance, both because of what it says and what it does not say. Last week, an important decision from the DC Circuit Court of Appeals again highlights some of the scope for confusion.
Earlier this month the University of North Carolina Press (where I am director) received a nearly $1 million grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to lead an OA pilot among multiple university presses (UPs). During the three-year experiment we will utilize web-based digital workflows to publish up to 150 new monographs. We intend to transform how university presses might publish their most specialized books while validating the legitimacy of high quality scholarship delivered in digital-first formats.
Over the past few years the MIT Libraries – like many US research libraries– have been watching with interest the development of “offsetting” agreements in Europe and the UK. In offsetting agreements, a single license incorporates costs associated with access to paywalled articles and costs associated with open access publication. This type of agreement has emerged in Europe and the UK and been the source of both new deals and broken deals.
Earlier this month I read this article by Kenneth Frazier from D-Lib Magazine which argues that academic libraries should reconsider the value of so-called “big deals” from publishers. The core of the argument is that the downsides of these journal packages outweigh the benefits of convenience and an arguably lower cost per title. I say “arguably” about cost per title because, if one excludes the titles in a bundle that are rarely or never used when calculating per title cost, the value proposition is significantly different.
This post is inspired by a number of discussions in the library profession over the past few years. Fobazi Ettarh’s article Vocational Awe and Librarianship: The Lies We Tell Ourselves in In Library with the Lead Pipe, the Symposium on Invisible Work in the Digital Humanities at Florida State University, and Stacie Williams’ keynote “All Labor is Local” from the 2016 Digital Library Forum to name a few.
[Authors note — this post was drafted back in January, so although the Scholarly Kitchen post that inspired it is a little old, the general themes are still relevant]
Joseph Esposito was being intentionally provocative, perhaps even tongue-in-cheek in places, in his post back in January, Why Elsevier is a Library’s Best Friend. There are some good exchanges with commenters, many of whom had the same thoughts I did as I read. Here are a few additional responses both to Esposito and to fellow SK’er David Crotty about the post and the back-and-forth in the comments.