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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Another comment on the EU green paper

Stevan Harnad, Comment on EU Green Paper: "Copyright in the Knowledge Economy", Open Access Archivangelism, November 25, 2008.  Excerpt:

I am commenting only on the bearing of EC policy on one specific body of content: The 2.5 million articles per year published in the world's 25,000 peer-reviewed research journals in all fields of science and scholarship.

The authors of all these articles neither receive nor seek royalty or fees from access-tolls to their users or their users' institutions. These authors only seek that these research findings should be accessed and used as fully and widely and possible, to the benefit of research progress and applications, and hence to the benefit of the society that funds their research and their institutions....

Sixty-three percent of journals already formally endorse depositing the author's final, revised, peer-reviewed draft in their institutional repository immediately upon acceptance for publication, and immediately making that deposited draft accessible free for all.

For that 63% of articles, it should be evident that no copyright reform whatsoever is needed. What is needed is that the authors' institutions and funders mandate (require) that they deposit and make them Open Access immediately upon acceptance by those journals.

The remaining 37% of articles can also be deposited in the author's institutional repository immediately upon acceptance for publication, but unless their publisher endorses making them immediately Open Access, the deposit has to be set initially as Closed Access (accessible only institution-internally, to the author and his employer).
It is here that legislation can help, although it is not certain that even that is necessary: A Europe-wide law requiring that publicly-funded research and research produced by employees of publicly funded universities must be made openly accessible will exert the requisite pressure on the remaining 37% journals so that they too should endorse that the deposited articles are immediately made Open Access rather than Closed Access.

Note that peer-reviewed research is fundamentally unlike books, textbooks, software, music, and videos. It is in its very essence author give-away content....

[Basic scholarly] uses all come automatically with free online access....But there are further uses, over and above these, that some fields of research feel they need, including modification and republication. It is likely that free online access will moot the need for copyright modification to guarantee these further uses, but there is no harm in trying to stipulate them formally in advance, as long as it is not treated as a prerequisite for Open Access, of for Open Access Mandates....

PS:  Remember that comments on the EU green paper, Copyright in the Knowledge Economy, are due on November 30.  One of the questions raised in the paper --Question 19, quoted below-- has a strong OA connection.  For other comments on the green paper, see the two batches I posted recently (1, 2).