Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Author rights and the NIH policy

On August 15, the Association of Research Libraries released "PubMed Central Deposit and Author Rights: Agreements between 12 Publishers and the Authors Subject to the NIH Public Access Policy", analyzing policies adopted by several policies to facilitate author compliance with the NIH policy. From the press release:
[ARL] has released “PubMed Central Deposit and Author Rights: Agreements between 12 Publishers and the Authors Subject to the NIH Public Access Policy,” by Ben Grillot, ... legal intern for ARL.

To help authors make informed choices about their rights, Grillot compares how the agreements of 12 publishers permit authors to meet the requirements of the recently revised National Institutes of Health (NIH) Public Access Policy and share their works while they are under embargo. The NIH Public Access Policy requires authors of NIH-funded research to deposit their works in PubMed Central and make them publicly available within 12 months of publication.

Grillot focuses his analysis on how the agreements differ in: the terms and procedures of deposit of the work, the length of any embargo period, and the rights of the author to use and share the work during the embargo period. Grillot presents summary tables that clearly show the similarities and differences across agreements. He also analyzes the implications of these agreements.

Grillot concludes that the significant variability in publisher agreements requires authors with NIH funding to closely examine publisher agreements and the rights granted and retained when deciding where to publish their research. His analysis of these 12 agreements will help authors determine what to look for in an agreement and what questions to ask before signing.
Update. See also Kevin Smith's comments:
Two quick points struck me as I read Grillot’s article beyond those conclusions that he reaches. First, I think many authors would be very surprised at just how limited their rights to make their own work available to others are when they sign publication agreements. ... The very limited set of open access rights retained by authors under these standard publication agreements argues forcefully for the approach taken recent by the Harvard Arts and Sciences faculty to grant Harvard a license for use in an institutional repository prior to any transfer of copyright to a publisher. The second thing that caught my attention is the brief notation, in a footnote to table 2, that Oxford University Press charges authors more for participation in their “author pays” open access program if the author is affiliated with an institution that does not subscribe to Oxford’s journals. Authors’ rights are thus directly and explicitly tied to institution’s expenditure of monies with that publisher. ... I suggest that institutions emulate it. Whenever we negotiate a new contract for a journal database, whether a new acquisition or a renewal, we should insist that the rights that authors at our institutions who publish with that publisher retain are spelled out. For some of us it has seemed inopportune to tie the rights of individual scholarly authors to our enterprise-wide subscriptions, but it is starting to seem more and more logical. ...

Update (10/9/08). STM, ALPSP, and the AAP/PSP released an open letter to the ARL in order to "express concern regarding [the] accuracy" of the paper.