Weighing the Costs of Offsetting Agreements

A guest post by Ana Enriquez, Scholarly Communications Outreach Librarian in the Penn State University Libraries.

Along with others from the Big Ten Academic Alliance, I had the pleasure of participating in the Choosing Pathways to Open Access forum hosted by the University of California Libraries in Berkeley last month. The forum was very well orchestrated, and it was valuable to see pluralism in libraries’ approaches to open access. (The UC Libraries’ Pathways to Open Access toolkit also illustrates this.) The forum rightly focused on identifying actions that the participants could take at their own institutions to further the cause of open access, particularly with their collections budgets, and it recognized that these actions will necessarily be tailored to particular university contexts. Read more

The GSU Copyright Case: Lather, Rinse, Repeat

On Friday, a panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals issued its decision in the publisher’s appeal from the second trial court ruling in their lawsuit against Georgia State University, challenging GSU’s practices regarding library electronic reserves.  The decision came 449 days after the appeal was heard, which is an astonishingly long time for such a ruling.  I wish I could say that the wait was worth it, and that the ruling adds to our stock of knowledge about fair use.  Unfortunately, that is not what happened, and the case continues to devolve into insignificance. Read more

What does Icelandic fishing have to do with commercial publishing?

Siglufjordur is a small fishing village in the north of Iceland that my wife and I had the pleasure of visiting this past summer.  It nestles between the mountains of the Icelandic highlands and the sea in a way characteristic of towns on the northern coast.

What is unusual about Siglufjordur is its economic history.  It was a boom town in the 1940s and 50s, the center of the North Atlantic herring trade.  In addition to fishing, a great deal of processing and packing was done in Siglufjordur, and the town was triple its current size.  In the early 1960s, however, the herring industry in Siglufjordur collapsed quite suddenly, because the fishing grounds had been overfished.  Now the town is a shadow of its former self, surviving on sport fishing and tourism (the Herring Museum, perhaps surprisingly, is very much worth a visit). Read more

Why just 2.5%?

Sustainability planning is certainly a tricky business. Over the last several months I have been working with teams grappling with sustainability and other long-term plans for four projects: the Big Ten Academic Alliance’s Geoportal, Mapping Prejudice, the Data Curation Network, and AgEcon Search.  These are all cross-unit collaborative projects, and multi-institutional in most cases, but their common element is that my library serves as administrative and/or infrastructural home and/or lead institution. This planning has led to an interesting thought experiment, spurred by the AgEcon Search planning. Read more

Copyright in government works, technical standards, and fair use

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. Read more

The Case for Fixing the Monograph by Breaking It Apart

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. Read more

Offsetting as a path to full Open Access: MIT and the Royal Society of Chemistry sign first North American ‘read and publish’ agreement

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. Read more

The Impact of Big Deals on the Research Ecosystem

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. Read more

Saying it doesn’t make it so

[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. Read more

Demanding More

At the American Library Association (ALA) Midwinter Meeting earlier this month, I attended the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) and the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coaltion (SPARC) Forum on “Shaping the Landscape of Open Access Publishing: Individually, Locally, and Collectively.” One of the speakers was my friend Chealsye Bowley, Community Manager for Ubiquity Press, a U.K. based open access publisher. Bowley also happens to be a featured “Woman Working In the Open.” Read more

Can University Presses Lead the Way in OA?

Last July at MIT Press, a press release went out that should have caught the eye of any reader of this blog. MIT Press announced the creation of a new leadership position called Director of Journals and Open Access and the appointment of Nick Lindsay to the role. To my knowledge, Nick is the only person in the North American university press world who has OA in his title. Last month, I sent him a few questions about this unique initiative. Read more

What does a journal brand mean?

Brands and branding are an important part of a consumer society, and they are largely about goodwill.  Trademarks, which are, roughly speaking,the legal protection given to brands, are premised on the idea that consumers should have some assurance about the continuity of the source of the goods and services they purchase.  A brand name is supposed to provide that continuity; whether you are buying from McDonald’s or Land’s End, the brand helps you know what you are going to get.  This is why trademarks protect against any use that might cause consumers to be confused about whether the goods or services they are buying are really from the same source.  The sense of continuity is what we call goodwill. Read more

Accelerating academy-owned publishing

(Note: This post was collaboratively written by several members of the ARL project group described below.)

How can libraries develop more robust mechanisms for supporting services and platforms that accelerate research sharing and increase participation in scholarship? What kind of funding and partnerships do scholarly communities, public goods technology platforms, and open repositories need to transform into true, academy-owned open access publication systems? In an initiative formerly known as “Red OA,” these are the questions a group of ARL deans and directors have recently committed to address through engagement with scholarly communities and open source platform developers. Read more

A new contract

When I complained, in a blog post written several weeks ago, about the contract I had signed, and regretted, for a book to be published by the American Library Association, I really did not expect the kind of reaction I got.  Quite a few readers made comments about the unequal position of authors in publishing negotiations, and especially about the need for the library world to do a better job of modeling good behavior in this area; that was to be expected.  A few people took me to task for agreeing to a contract I disliked so much, which was no more than I deserved.  But I truly was surprised by the number of folks from the ALA, including current ALA president Jim Neal, who reach out to me and expressed a determination to fix the problem I had described. Read more

Join the Movement: The 2.5% Commitment

NB: This is a guest post from David Lewis, Dean of the IUPUI University Library.  David and the regular IO authors hope that this post will generate discussion, and we invite you to comment.

The 2.5% Commitment: Every academic library should commit to contribute 2.5% of its total budget to support the common infrastructure needed to create the open scholarly commons.

A number of things came at me at in late summer. Read more

Foibles and Follies, part three

The final foible I wanted to write about in this series of posts involves a distressingly common situation – a copyright holder who does not understand what the rights they hold actually are.

This is not the first blog post to point out that Human Synergistics International is pretty clueless about copyright.  Almost five years ago, the TechDirt blog made an effort to school Human Synergistics about fair use.  Apparently it did not work; they seem to continue to misunderstand the copyright law. Read more

Foibles and Follies, Part 2

The second folly I want to talk about is somewhat embarrassing, since it is my own.  Publication contracts are always an adventure for academic authors, of course; we are routinely taken advantage of by publishers who know that publication is a job requirement and believe they have us in a stranglehold.  I once read a comment by a lawyer who works with authors that signing an agreement with one of the major publishers was akin to getting into a car with a clearly intoxicated driver – no sensible person should do it.  So in this story I have no one but myself to blame.  Nevertheless, I want to tell folks about it because it was not one of the big publishers that treated me badly; it was my own professional organization, the American Library Association. Read more

Early Career Researchers as key partners for dislodging legacy publishing models

It’s been a busy summer for OA in Europe. On one hand, nationally coordinated efforts in places like Finland and Germany have sought (unsuccessfully so far) to pressure Elsevier into better subscription pricing and OA options. On the other hand, a group of early career researchers (ECRs) at the University of Cambridge are looking to mobilize fellow ECRs to embrace open models that are not controlled by commercial entities. In my view, these divergent approaches illustrate why we should focus our collective energies away from strategies in which commercial interests retain control under new economic conditions (see also, proposals to flip subscription payments to APCs), and towards working with ECRs and others who envision a return of scholarly dissemination responsibility to the academy. Read more

Foibles and follies, part one

It has been a while since we have posted to this site, and I want to catch up by sharing some thoughts about a few odd or disturbing developments from the past month or so.

Let’s start with a recent folly, the “settlement” in the infamous “Monkey Selfie” case.  The New York Times proclaims the settlement proposed on Monday as “a victory of sorts” for the monkey and his friends.  The “friends,” of course are PETA, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, who brought the case as Naruto’s “next friend,” trying to establish that the monkey, who they named Naruto, owned the copyright in the picture he apparently snapped.  It is not at all clear that PETA even knows which monkey it is representing, since in court papers they identify Naruto as a six-year old male, but the original photographer whose copyright claim PETA is disputing, David Slater himself identified the photogenic macaque as a female. Read more