Resale of #openaccess CC-BY papers is fully acceptable


Roderic Page @rdmpage tweets:

Why the outrage at people repackaging #oa papers and charging for them? : http://evoldir.tumblr.com/post/58035947020/other-unanticipated-reuse-of-open-access-papers
Don’t like it? Do it better and cheaper!

I fully agree with him and analyse in more detail: The original post included:

Dear Colleagues,

I’ve recently discovered that some commercial publishers are re-editing articles from open-access journals and publishing them as multi-author books, without the authors’ knowledge (example here).  Although most authors I’ve spoken with find this objectionable it’s quite legal, since open-access articles are usually published under Creative Commons attribution-only (CC-BY) licenses.  

Before pressing for any changes I’d like to get a broad survey of researchers’ opinions on this, so I’ve prepared a short (3 question) survey.  Here’s the link:&n bsp;http://svy.mk/1cs8M2v. Please feel free to pass this survey link on to other researchers or scientific email lists.

p.s.  If you’d like more information I’ve also discussed this issue on my blog: 

Dr. Rosemary J. Redfield     redfield@interchange.ubc.ca     Professor, Dept. of Zoology    Univ. of British Columbia                              

In the blog posts above RJR highlights the commercial republishing of CC-BY Open articles. Links 1,3,4 relate to “Apple Academic Press ” [about whom I know nothing]. From the second link above:

But, as the previous post and a related post describe, the CC-BY license creates new problems for authors, because some for-profit publishers have begun aggregating CC-BY papers into high-priced edited books without the authors’ knowledge.  The authors I’ve discussed this with are quite upset.  They trusted the journals to offer licensing arrangements that were in the authors’ best interests, but now they feel that they have relinquished control of their scientific reputations.  (Note that these weren’t predatory publishers, but PLOS One and BioMed Central.)

Most of the discussions of open access licenses haven’t considered the exploitation of these licenses by for-profit publishers, probably because this niche opened only very recently, once open-access papers became widely available.  I and others discovered this problem by accident.  I don’t know how widespread it is, but I expect it will only grow.  (I’d like to do a survey of its prevalence, but I can’t figure out any way to distinguish between such repackaged books and traditional multi-author volumes without having to contact individual authors – any suggestions?)

So far, open access publishing has been presented as both a public and a private good.  Science benefits from barrier-free dissemination and reuse, and authors benefit from wider readership. The only cost under discussion has been the transfer of publication expenses from the reader to the authors or their institution.  Opposition has come mainly from the publishers of subscription-access journals whose profits are threatened. – See more at: http://rrresearch.fieldofscience.com/2013/07/informing-authors-of-real-consequences.html#sthash.o8MF7RGb.dpuf

Anyone who writes Free/Open Source software knows about re-use and resale and has accepted it as a public good (for about 20 years). I write OSS and I have had companies take my software, repackage and resell it. I am perfectly happy about this. My only concern is that I am attributed. I have seen “reputable” companies in cheminformatics bundle software and claim they wrote it and I have attempted to highlight the inequity and illegality of this. But as long as they acknowledge me that’s fine and they can charge what they like.

And it means my software gets used! Which is what I want.

Note that is a non-rivalrous activity. *I* can still sell my software if I want and so can anyone else. The critical problem is monopoly, not an increased market.

Assuming Apple Academic Press do a reasonable job of acknowledging authors and the book is technically competent what’s the problem? The authors get MORE readers which is surely what they want? The problem for RJR and her authors who object seems to be “profit envy”. “Why should AAP make money out of my work?”

I ask “why not?” If it produces something valuable (at least measured by people buying the book) it adds to common value. If the price is too high people won’t buy it. And remember we’he had over 100 years of commercial organizations abstracting the scientific literature and reselling it.

One reason why AAP think they have a market is that journals are such a poor way of aggregating information. The time is overdue for secondary derived products, in this case aggregation. It’s one of the main virtues of CC-BY that we can aggregate, filter, reformat and compute the literature. CC-NC prevents this.

I suspect that products like AAP’s reaggregation will have a short shelf life and short market. The real market will be one that uses modern technologies and ideas to add massive value to the literature. And when this new generation of derivatives arrives (and I hope my Open Software will be involved) then we shall make conventional closed journals obsolete.

 

 

 

10 thoughts on “Resale of #openaccess CC-BY papers is fully acceptable

  1. Ivan Herman

    I guess the answer may be to move towards CC-BY-ND, meaning that the content of the publication cannot be changed when reused. That would avoid (I thing genuine) concerns that the results may become altered altered in the re-publishing process.

    Reply
    1. pm286 Post author

      That does not allow any of the content to be reused (e.g. in data collections, recipes, and a whole lot more). It’s prejudicial to scholarship which builds on previous work.

      Reply
  2. Maryann Martone

    My first knee jerk reaction was “how dare they”, which was followed rather quickly by “so what?”. When I publish Open Access, I want my content to be used. My non-open access content is bundled and sold by commercial entities by definition (we call them publishers). I don’t receive any compensation for these articles or book chapters, so why should I be any angrier if my open access article is used? The ones who should be angry are those that buy these books, as they can read the articles for free.

    Reply
    1. pm286 Post author

      Thanks Maryann,
      I agree there is a knee jerk for most people. I had this 20 years ago with FLOSS. So we have to educate people.

      >> The ones who should be angry are those that buy these books, as they can read the articles for free.

      The question is whether the added value is worth it. Many people buy copies of books which are available online so there is (currently) a value to a printed book. I would expect that there is a value to a printed anthology /aggregate. Maybe 100USD is too much – I can’t comment. If the cost were 10 USD would many people complain or would it be seen as a useful product?

      Reply
    1. pm286 Post author

      The authors get offered options by the publisher and accept whatever option(s) is offered. Very few authors are expert in this area. It is now standards (whether it should be) that licences are chosen from CC options.

      It might be possible to ask the publishers for the use of GNU but my guess it would take an awful lot of correspondence.

      Reply
      1. Rosie Redfield

        The CC-BY license is standard with most open access publishers; authors aren’t given a choice.

        Yes, the real problem is that very few authors of research papers are expert in this area or likely to become so. They see this uncontrolled reuse of their articles as a risk to their reputation (lack of control over content and context, probability of mis-citation, appearance of self-plagiarism).

        Advocates of open access (I am one) need to convince authors that these risks are compensated by the many benefits of open access publishing. Blog posts won’t do the job – I think the best contact point is the publication process, when authors agree to a license.

        Reply
        1. pm286 Post author

          This is a useful start for discussion.

          >>The CC-BY license is standard with most open access publishers; authors aren’t given a choice.

          I think that’s probably true, but Ross Mounce has done more of a survey. The practice is not new – BMC and PLoS have been doing it for 10 years and there have not been howls of protest. I think until this year, when people were forced to publish OA, it wasn’t an issue.

          >>Yes, the real problem is that very few authors of research papers are expert in this area or likely to become so.

          I agree. It’s not an easy subject – I am involved with CC Science Commons and OKF Open Definition and the issues are complex. CC-BY
          is by far the easiest to operate and hundreds of thousands or articles have been processed that way. It’s also the only (apart from CC0) which is compliant with BOAI.

          >>They see this uncontrolled reuse of their articles as a risk to their reputation (lack of control over content and context, probability of mis-citation, appearance of self-plagiarism).

          I think this is a non-issue. Plagiarism isn’t a copyright issue, it’s one of academic fraud. CC-BY protects authors’ moral rights. Lack of control and context are the same problem that they have been for 100+ years – it’s not a licence issue. If I misquote your work “RJR carried out the following experiment [horrific misrepresentation] and …” there are mechanisms to deal with it. Bad journalism (e.g. UK Daily Mail) is far more of a problem.

          >>Advocates of open access (I am one) need to convince authors that these risks are compensated by the many benefits of open access publishing. Blog posts won’t do the job – I think the best contact point is the publication process, when authors agree to a license.

          I do not have the sense that authors are concerned until the issue is raised. I would agree that it is worth having a reputable resource for authors to consult, but ad hoc poorly constructed surveys don’t do it. The issue of CC-NC has been carefully argued in peer-reviewed Zookeys peer-review http://www.pensoft.net/journal_home_page.php?journal_id=1&page=article&SESID=&type=show&article_id=2189 . Until there is a corresponding set of authoritative references we cannot use anecdotal evidence.

          In practice, for ARTICLES, CC-NC only benefirs the PUBLISHER. Some earn many thousands of dollars from reprints, especially medical ones. Shouldn’t authors feel equally miffed about that? I shall blog this

          Reply
  3. Lhac

    You wrote: “Assuming Apple Academic Press do a reasonable job of acknowledging authors and the book is technically competent what’s the problem? The authors get MORE readers which is surely what they want? The problem for RJR and her authors who object seems to be “profit envy”. “Why should AAP make money out of my work?”

    The problem with some of those specific books of AAP is that they are deceptive packages. (Some of?) The books of “Apple Academic Press” are very close to machine-made with little human involvement. There is next to no editorial work content-wise. The selection of articles is random with no internal connections, and the title of the books implies a generality which the contents do not provide. They are sold via amazon with advertisements such as “only 1 left in stock” and reduced prices – quite a joke for a print-on-demand book!

    Therefore, those books are essentially traps – and as an original author I feel ashamed if my work is misused for setting up a trap to make money out of unsuspecting librarians or whoever might buy this. Of course this is not new. Similar thins happen with Wikipedia articles, which are packaged into print-on-demand-books. The intentions behind such schemes are not honest.

    On the other hand, the software using your code probably gives real value to those buying and using it, and you can be proud of it. That is the difference, as I see it.

    So while legally almost o.k. (unlike the license clearly stated, one of those books did not actually cite the source of my article, which would have been the Beilstein Journal of Organic Chemistry), such things will give a bad name to open access publishing and steer authors away from it.

    Reply
    1. pm286 Post author

      Lhac>> The problem with some of those specific books of AAP is that they are deceptive packages. (Some of?) The books of “Apple Academic Press” are very close to machine-made with little human involvement. There is next to no editorial work content-wise. The selection of articles is random with no internal connections, and the title of the books implies a generality which the contents do not provide. They are sold via amazon with advertisements such as “only 1 left in stock” and reduced prices – quite a joke for a print-on-demand book!

      I understand completely. There is, of course, the alternative of reading the original papers. If people find the AAP books useful then they are adding value by aggregating. If they aren’t valuable then caveat emptor. I don’t buy PPI lawyers because I can get everything free from government.

      >>Therefore, those books are essentially traps – and as an original author I feel ashamed if my work is misused for setting up a trap to make money out of unsuspecting librarians or whoever might buy this. Of course this is not new. Similar thins happen with Wikipedia articles, which are packaged into print-on-demand-books. The intentions behind such schemes are not honest.

      Exactly.

      >>On the other hand, the software using your code probably gives real value to those buying and using it, and you can be proud of it. That is the difference, as I see it.

      >> So while legally almost o.k. (unlike the license clearly stated, one of those books did not actually cite the source of my article, which would have been the Beilstein Journal of Organic Chemistry), such things will give a bad name to open access publishing and steer authors away from it.

      It’s a minor irritation. Much less problematic than online degree courses. If OASPA really cares they should advertise to people that articles can be read for free. They might even do it themselves. There’s a market, so if the reputable publishers don’t venture, others will.

      Reply

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