Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Comment on EU Green Paper "Copyright in the Knowledge Economy"

Following are my comments on the EU Green Paper Copyright in the Knowledge Economy

This comment pertains to question #19:

19. Should the scientific and research community enter into licensing schemes with publishers in order to increase access to works for teaching or research purposes? Are there examples of successful licensing schemes enabling online use of works for teaching or research purposes?


In the Internet age, the optimum dissemination of scholarship involves open sharing of peer-reviewed research articles, data, and more. The human genome project illustrated just how rapidly humankind can advance in knowledge through open sharing of information and cooperation, building a solid base of knowledge on which researchers - both academic and commercial - will be able to build for many years to come. We need to apply such approaches in other areas, such as finding solutions to global warming and sustainable energy sources.

There are already more than 3,700 fully open access, peer-reviewed scholarly journals listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals, and more than 2 new titles are added each day. Scientific Commons, a search service encompassing 960 repositories, includes more than 23 million items in searches.

In addition to these fully open access resources, there are many indications that scholarly publishing is in a period of transition to open access. Many publishers provide free access to back issues of journals, and the vast majority permit authors to self-archive their own works as open access. One of the largest commercial scholarly publishers, Springer, recently acquired the open access publisher BioMedCentral, a good indication that open access is seen as the smart business decision for the future.

In the Internet age, the copyright that makes sense is the Creative Commons approach, not at all the traditional copyright transfer agreement. Many scholarly journals are using Creative Commons licenses. Even traditional publishers are increasingly seeking only a License to Publish, leaving copyright with the author.

Research funding agencies, universities and research organizations around the world have, or are developing, strong policies requiring open access to the published research of funded research, and to research data. Here in Canada, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) has a Policy on Access to Research Outputs with an expectation of open access to funded research within 6 months of publication; this embargo period is viewed as an interim measure, to be reviewed as the publishing community transitions to open access. Canada's other federal and provincial research funding agencies either have, or are developing, similar open access policies. Canada's Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council has an Aid to Open Access Journals program.

Policies should always be for green open access, or author self-archiving. This gives authors the choice of choosing a traditional, subscription-based publisher and self-archiving their work for open access, or publishing in an open access journal with a copy to the open access archive. Good policy makes open access a requirement, not a request. The policy should specify that the author should self-archive immediately on publication, although access may be delayed if necessary to accommodate an embargo period.

Many thanks for the opportunity to comment.

Hat tip to Peter Suber on Open Access News.