Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Problem at an OUP OA journal

Peter Murray-Rust, OUP wants me to pay for my own Open Access article, A Scientist and the Web, September 3, 2007.  Excerpt:

...Here is another unacceptable lack of clarity and commitment from an Open Access journal from a major publisher.  I had been investigating OUP’s site for another reason (PRISM: Open Letter to Oxford University Press) and since I had published with them thought I would have a look at papers I had written (“I” and “my” include co-authors) [in OUP’s full OA journal Nucleic Acids Research]. This is what I found...  [PS: Omitting the screenshot.]

The electronic article is accompanied by a sidebar with “request permissions”. I followed this and the result is shown above. The journal wishes to charge me 48 USD to:

  • use my own article
  • on which I hold copyright
  • for non-commercial purposes (teaching)

The journal is therefore

  • selling my intellectual property
  • without my permission
  • against the terms of the licence (no commercial use)

I am lost for words....The only charitable conclusion I can draw is that the publisher ritually attaches the awful Rightslink page to every article automatically and that this is a genuine mistake....

It is all indicative of an industry that simply isn’t trying hard enough.  Recommendation:

Open access articles on publishers’ web pages should never be accompanied by rightslink or other permission material. instead the publisher should pro-actively point out the nature of oa and ensure that the reader and re-user is fully aware of their rights.

After all, the author has paid for this…

Comment.  OUP adopted CC licenses for Nucleic Acids Research (as well as for most of its hybrid OA journals) —presumably to replace RightsLink pages and permission fees.  So it is especially disappointing to see this mistake continue.  Appearing to leave permission barriers in place is as bad as actually leaving them in place, at least for conscientious readers who will seek permission for uses that exceed fair use or give up and err on the side of non-use.  Publishers should not want to make readers less conscientious in this sense, just as they should not want to give authors less than what they paid for and provide less than what they promise.

Update. Also see the Slashdot thread on PMR's post.

Update. See PMR's blog response to the mountain of Slashdot misunderstandings.

Update. See this response from Kirsty Luff, Senior Communications and Marketing Manager at Oxford Journals, posted as a comment on PMR's blog:

It is not Oxford Journals' policy to charge any users for downloading and using Open Access articles for non-commercial purposes. As stated in the copyright line, all Oxford Open articles are published under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Rightslink functionality should not be appearing on any of our OA articles, and we are in the process of removing it. For Nucleic Acids Research, the links are not displaying on tables of contents with immediate effect, and will be removed from all article pages as soon as possible. For the OA content in journals participating in Oxford Open, we will also remove any references to Rightslink. In addition to the existing copyright line and the embedded machine-readable licence, we will also display the Creative Commons logo to help make the licence terms clearer to users.

For clarification, it has never been our policy to charge our own authors for the re-use of their material in the continuation of their own research and wider educational purposes, and this includes authors of articles published under a subscription model.

Update. PMR has found that the problem didn't stop at OUP. Ingenta charges for access to the OUP article. See his two-part account of the Ingenta problem (one, two).