Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Lawrence Lessig takes the OA pledge

From a March 15 posting to Lessig's blog: 'So I did something today for the very last time in my life. I'm publishing a comment in the Minnesota Law Review about an article by Brett Frischmann titled "An Economic Theory of Infrastructure." His is a great article; I was happy to write the comment. But today, on the brink of publication, I had to confront the "Publication Agreement." In order to give the Minnesota Law Review my work, I have also to give them my copyright. In particular, they get the "exclusive right to authorize the publication, reproduction, and distribution" of my work. They have in turn sold that right to Lexis and Westlaw. Never again. It has taken me too long to resolve myself about this, and it was too late in the process of this article to insist on something different. But from this moment on, I am committed to the Open Access pledge: I will not agree to publish in any academic journal that does not permit me the freedoms of at least a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license.'

(PS: This is very welcome. Not all scholars can afford to take this pledge yet, especially in law where very few law reviews are cooperating. But an author's weight is an undeniable factor in the negotiation with publishers, and Lessig should be able to get what he wants, opening the door a bit further for others. Insisting on a CC license is one good way to take the OA pledge but not the only way. All authors are copyright holders until they transfer copyright to a publisher, and as copyright holders they have the right to deposit their work in an OA repository. Retaining that right after signing a publishing contract is the least that authors should pledge to do, no matter what form that right, permission, or license may take. Note that most surveyed journals already permit postprint archiving by authors. If you have to deal with one that does not, and want some lawyer-crafted language to append to your copyright transfer agreement, enabling you to retain the rights you need to consent to OA, then look at the SPARC Author's Addendum.)