Copyright Category

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Congress’s copyright fight puts open access science in peril

By John Timmer | Published: September 16, 2008, Ars Technica News Desk

Backlash against open access

In recent years, scientific publishing has changed profoundly as the Internet simplified access to the scientific journals that once required a trip to a university library. That ease of access has caused many to question why commercial publishers are able to dictate the terms by which publicly funded research is made available to the public that paid for it.

Open access proponents won a big victory when Congress voted to compel the National Institutes of Health to set a policy of hosting copies of the text of all publications produced by research it funds, a policy that has taken effect this year. Now, it appears that the publishing industry may be trying to get Congress to introduce legislation that will reverse its earlier decision under the guise of strengthening copyright protections.

Under existing law, the products of federally funded research belong to the scientists that perform it and institutions that host them. Academic journals have traditionally had researchers transfer the copyright of publications resulting from this research to the journals. The current NIH policy requires that authors they fund reserve the right to place the text and images of their publication in an NIH database hosted at PubMed Central (PMC).

To protect commercial publishers, papers submitted to PMC are not made accessible until a year after publication, and are not required to include the formatting and integration of images performed by the publisher. This one-year limit is longer than that required by other governments and private funding bodies such as the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Wellcome Trust. Many publishers have embraced this policy, and allow the fully formatted paper to be made available, sometimes after a shorter embargo.

Open Access meets resistance

Not all publishers have embraced it, however, and some have tried to exact exorbitant fees for allowing manuscripts to be transferred to PMC. Others have engaged in aggressive lobbying against open access efforts.

Read on…

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Read publisher policies on copyright, and more…

SHERPA, a consortium of UK libraries, investigates issues in the future of scholarly communication. It is developing open-access institutional repositories in universities to facilitate the rapid and efficient worldwide dissemination of research.

SHERPA has several resources for authors to use:

RoMEO: Use this site to find a summary of permissions that are normally given as part of each publisher’s copyright transfer agreement.  Additionally, you will find many sample publication agreements on this site.

Publishers allowing the deposition of their published version/PDF in Institutional Repositories. There is often a question about the use of the publishers own PDF version of research articles and whether these can be archived. It is often believed that all publishers prohibit the use of their own PDF: in fact the situation is very different. Use this site to find out what you can do with your article post-publication.

Publishers’ paid open access options often allow authors to immediately deposit their articles in open access repositories upon payment of a fee. The same publishers may also allow authors to deposit after an embargo period without payment of a fee. Use this site to find out if a publisher has an OA option, and the cost.

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Author’s Rights, Tout de Suite

Authorʹs Rights Tout de Suite, by Charles W. Bailey, Jr., is designed to give journal article authors a quick introduction to key aspects of authorʹs rights and to foster further exploration of this topic though liberal use of relevant references to online documents and links to pertinent Web sites.

Additionally, University of Iowa authors can find a trove of information on author rights (why you should retain copyright for your creative output) on the Transforming Scholarly Communication web site at the University of Iowa Libraries.

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Rockefeller University Press Gives Away Copyright on Journal Articles

It may be a first for scientific journals that are not published under an open-access philosophy: Rockefeller University Press has announced that it will allow authors to retain copyright to the papers they publish in its three journals.

Under the new policy, instead of giving up their copyrights to the journals, authors will now provide the journals with licenses to publish their papers. The authors may reuse their work any way they like, as long as they provide attribution to the journals. Six months after publication, third parties may use and redistribute the papers under a Creative Commons license.

The press places one thing off-limits: creating Web sites that mirror the contents of a journal within six months of its publication. The press hopes to retain subscribers because of that six-month delay.

In the world of scientific publishing, the three journals — The Journal of Cell Biology, The Journal of Experimental Medicine, and The Journal of General Physiology — may be unique in that they are maintaining subscription access but are giving up copyright. Many open-access scientific journals also allow authors to keep copyright. —Lila Guterman

The Chronicle News Blog, May 5, 2008

Emma Hill and Mike Rossner, You wrote it; you own it! Journal of Cell Biology, April 30, 2008. An editorial. Excerpt:

Authors of papers published in Rockefeller University Press journals (The Journal of Cell Biology, The Journal of Experimental Medicine, or The Journal of General Physiology) now retain copyright to their published work. This permits authors to reuse their own work in any way, as long as they attribute it to the original publication. Third parties may use our published materials under a Creative Commons license, six months after publication….

Preying on authors’ desire to publish, and thus their willingness to sign virtually any form placed in front of them, scientific publishers have traditionally required authors to sign over the copyright to their work before publication….

At The Rockefeller University Press, we have followed this tradition in the past and obtained copyright from authors as a condition of publication. Several years ago, however, we recognized that the advent of the internet had irrevocably changed the nature and mechanisms of knowledge distribution, and we returned some of those rights to authors. Since July 2000, we have allowed our authors to freely distribute their published work by posting the final, formatted PDF version on their own websites immediately after publication.

With the growing demand for public access to published data, we recently started depositing all of our content in PubMed Central. In a further step to enhance the utility of scientific content, we have now decided to return copyright to our authors. In return, however, we require authors to make their work available for reuse by the public. Instead of relinquishing copyright, our authors will now provide us with a license to publish their work. This license, however, places no restrictions on how authors can reuse their own work; we only require them to attribute the work to its original publication. Six months after publication, third parties (that is, anyone who is not an author) can use the material we publish under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License….

The Creative Commons License will apply retroactively to all work published by The Rockefeller University Press before November 1, 2007….Authors who previously assigned their copyright to the Press are now granted the right to use their own work in any way they like, as long as they acknowledge the original publication….

Full text of our new copyright policy is available here.

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U of Iowa Faculty Senate Approves Author’s Addendum for Publishing Agreements

The University of Iowa Faculty Senate Approved the “Addendum to Publication Agreements for CIC Authors” at their October 23, 2007 meeting. This addendum is intended for authors to use to help them protect their intellectual property rights when publishing their work.

Excerpt from the “Statement on Publishing Agreements”:

Faculty authors should consider a number of factors when choosing and interacting with publishers for their works. The goal of publication should be to encourage widespread dissemination and impact; the means for accomplishing this will necessarily depend on the nature of the work in question, the author’s circumstances, available suitable outlets, and expectations in the author’s field of inquiry. In general, authors are encouraged to consider publishing strategies that will optimize short- and long-term access to their work, taking into account such factors as affordability, efficient means for distribution, a secure third-party archiving strategy, and flexible management of rights.

To read more of the statement and view the addendum, visit the full Statement and Addendum.

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Retaining Copyrights to Increase Research Impact: Online Tutorial

A new MIT Libraries’ tutorial “Scholarly Publication and Copyright: Retaining Rights & Increasing the Impact of Research” is now available online, and it applicable to faculty at all universities.

* Part 1 focuses on how copyright law intersects with the publication process.

Download part 1 (5:38 min.)

* Part 2 reviews why you might want to retain rights when you publish and how you can do so.

Download Part 2 (9:47 min.)

* Part 3 provides information on increasing the impact of your research by making it available through open access channels.

Download Part 3 (8:55 min.)

Together, these three parts are intended to explain how copyright relates to publication agreements for research articles, and how authors can increase the impact of their work by negotiating to retain rights to post their articles on the web or reuse them in other ways.

This 3-part tutorial is also linked from MIT Libraries’ the scholarly publishing website, where these themes are developed in more depth.

MIT Library News, October 12th, 2007 by Ellen Duranceau

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Copyright Crash Course

Georgia Harper has recently revised her web site Copyright Crash Course. Learn about copyright’s role in the flow of research and teaching, how to manage your own copyright (see Transitions entry about the CIC Author’s Addendum), your rights as a copyright holder, fair use and more….

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Washington University Revises Author’s Addendum

Washington University has revised its author addendum. From the announcement on the WU scholarly communications blog:

What is the WU Amendment to Publication Agreement? The WU Amendment is a tool to allow authors to retain some rights to their work and is used as an addendum to a publisher’s copyright agreement. The WU Amendment enables authors to reuse their work (the final published version) for research and teaching efforts, allows for deposit in Becker Library’s DSpace digital repository and helps authors comply with the NIH Public Access Policy.

The WU Amendment to Publication Agreement now includes a clause that addresses the issue of what authors should do if a publisher does not return a signed copy of the agreement. With the revised WU Amendment, publication of the article by the publisher will be deemed as acceptance of the terms of the WU Amendment by the publisher. The new clause reads in Paragraph 6 as follows:

“In the absence of Publisher’s signature on this Amendment, Publication of the Article by the Publisher will be deemed acceptance of the terms of this Amendment by the Publisher.”

This new clause eliminates the “limbo” period for authors who do not receive a signed copy from publishers but their article is published. Publication of the article will be construed as acceptance of the terms in the WU Amendment.

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Scholarly Publishers Issue Position Paper on Author/Publisher Rights

A coalition of scholarly publishing groups released a “position paper” on balancing author and publisher rights in scholarly journals. The paper Author and Publisher Rights for Academic Use: An Appropriate Balance, was assembled by the International Association of Scientific, Technical, and Medical Publishers (STM), along with the Association of American Publishers Professional and Scholarly Publishing division (AAP PSP), and the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers (ALPSP). The paper suggests that the needs of scholarly authors and the need for publishers to obtain copyright transfers or exclusive licenses can be balanced, and need not conflict.

“Academic research authors and their institutions should be able to use and post the content that such authors and institutions themselves provide for internal institutional non-commercial research and education purposes”—something most publishers allow—the paper states. Publishers, meanwhile, “should be able to determine when and how the official publication record occurs, and to derive the revenue benefit from the publication and open posting of the official record (the final published article), and its further distribution and access in recognition of the value of the services they provide.”

Despite what STM called “overheated” discussions of new models and practices, the scientific record is best-served, the paper emphasizes, by a professional publishing model. In that model, exclusive rights preserve the scientific record and ensure that journals are viable, thus supporting editing, peer review, and “electronic delivery and investments in such systems,” as well as supporting the administration of a copyright regime.

In a recent editorial in Scientific American however, researcher and consultant Alma Swan questions some of the core positions put forth by publishers and suggests individual authors, through self-archiving and rapid dissemination on the web, can take matters into their own hands. “Research is expensive enough that the world can scarcely afford an antiquated, inefficient, and high-cost system of information dissemination,” Swan writes. “The bickering over varied business models, and the side arguments over public access to publicly funded results, obscure a larger, more important question: Can open access—the fundamental change to a system where scientists no longer face barriers to accessing others’ work (or their own)—advance science?”

Swan argues yes. “While commercial publishers, scientific societies, and librarians struggle over business models and tough longer-term issues such as who will maintain the record of science in a digital age,” she writes, “it remains the individual investigator who has the tools at hand to speed science along.”

Library Journal Academic Newswire, May 10, 2007

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Author Addenda (for Retention of Copyright): An Examination of Five Alternatives

Peter Hirtle, from Cornell University, examines five author addenda as solutions to the transferring of author rights to publishers.

Excerpt from Author Addenda: An Examination of Five Alternatives, D-Lib Magazine, November 2006, vol. 12, no. 11

The Problem:
When an author publishes a book or a paper, many publishers ask the author to transfer all copyrights in the work to the publisher. But that is not always to the author’s advantage.

When authors assign to publishers all of the rights that comprise the bundle of rights known as copyright, they lose control over their scholarly output. Assignment of copyright ownership may limit the ability of authors to incorporate elements into future articles and books. Authors may not be able to use their own work in their teaching, or to authorize others at the institution or elsewhere to use materials.

Unless addressed in the transfer agreement, the publisher may forbid an author to do the following:
• Post the work to the author’s own web site, an institutional repository, or a subject-based repository.
• Copy the work for distribution to students.
• Use the work as the basis for future articles or other works.
• Give permission for the work to be used in a course at the author’s institution.
• Grant permission to faculty and students at other universities to use the material.
For all of the above reasons, many organizations and institutions have encouraged authors to better manage their copyrights.

One Solution: the Author’s Addenda:
Until recently, the primary method that authors could use to retain some rights in their writings was to rewrite the contract with the publishers themselves. Thanks to the development of standardized author addenda, the task has become much simpler. An author’s addendum is a standardized legal instrument that modifies the publisher’s agreement and allows the author to keep key rights.