I am grateful for the recent correspondence from Peter Suber and Stevan Harnad as it helps me get my thoughts in order for ETD2007. In response to Stevan:
Open Access: What Comes With the Territory,
Peter has analysed the central question very clearly (as always)
Summary [of Stevan’s post]:Downloading, printing, saving and data-crunching come with the territory if you make your paper freely accessible online (Open Access). You may not, however, create derivative works out of the words of that text. It is the author’s own writing, not an audio for remix. And that is as it should be. Its contents (meaning) are yours to data-mine and reuse, with attribution. The words themselves, however, are the author’s (apart from attributed fair-use quotes). The frequent misunderstanding that what comes with the OA territory is somehow not enough seems to be based on conflating (1) the text of research articles with (2a) the raw research data on which the text is based, or with (2b) software, or with (2c) multimedia — all the wrong stuff and irrelevant to OA.
- Stevan is responding to Peter Murray-Rust’s blog post from June 10. But since I agreed with most of what Peter MR wrote, I’ll jump in.
- Stevan isn’t saying that OA doesn’t or shouldn’t remove permission barriers. He’s saying that removing price barriers (making work accessible online free of charge) already does most or all of the work of removing permission barriers and therefore that no extra steps are needed.
- The chief problem with this view is the law. If a work is online without a special license or permission statement, then either it stands or appears to stand under an all-rights-reserved copyright. The only assured rights for users are those collected under fair use or fair dealing. These rights are far fewer and less adequate than OA contemplates, and in any case the boundaries of fair use and fair dealing are vague and contestable.
- This legal problem leads to a practical problem: conscientious users will feel obliged to err on the side of asking permission and sometimes even paying permission fees (hurdles that OA is designed to remove) or to err on the side of non-use (further damaging research and scholarship). Either that, or conscientious users will feel pressure to become less conscientious. This may be happening, but it cannot be a strategy for a movement which claims that its central practices are lawful.
- This doesn’t mean that articles in OA repositories without special licenses or permission statements may not be read or used. It means that users have access free of charge (a significant breakthrough) but are limited to fair use.
PMR: “The chief problem with this view is the law”. That puts it precisely, and that’s where Stevan and I differ. At the moment I think we have to work within the law, and I think the law debars me from crunching. There may come a time where we feel that civil disobedience is unavoidable but it hasn’t arrived yet – if it does I shall be there.
And some comments on other parts of Stevan’s post:
Get the Institutional Repository Managers Out of the Decision Loop
The trouble with many Institutional Repositories (IRs) (besides the fact that they don’t have a deposit mandate) is that they are not run by researchers but by “permissions professionals,” accustomed to being mired in institutional author IP protection issues and institutional library 3rd-party usage rights rather than institutional author research give-aways.
PMR: I have had similar thoughts. I got the distinct impression that some IR’s are run like victorian museums – look but don’t touch. Ithe very word “repository” suggests a funereal process – it’s no surprise that having put much of my stuff into DSpace I find it’s an enormous effort to get it out. Why don’t we build “disseminatories” instead?
[Stevan’s analysis of how we should deposit papers omitted. I don’t disagree – I’m just more interested in data t present.]
Now, Peter, I counsel patience! You will immediately reply: “But my robots cannot crunch Closed Access texts: I need to intervene manually!” True, but that problem will only be temporary, and you must not forget the far larger problem that precedes it, which is that 85% of papers are not yet being deposited at all, either as Open Access or Closed Access. That is the inertial practice that needs to be changed, globally, once and for all.
PMR: Here we differ. In many fields there has been little movement and no Green journals. We could wait another five years for no effect. But my main concern is the balance between Green access and copyrighted data. The longer we fail to address the copyrighting of data the worse the situation will become. Publishers are not stupid – they have revenue-oriented business people working out how to make money out of our data – Wiley told me so. Imagine, for example, that a publisher says “I will make all our journals green as long as we retain copyright. And we’ll extend the paper to cover the whole of the scientific record”. That would be wonderful for Stevan and a complete disaster for paper-crunchers. We can’t afford to wait for that to happen.
TJust as I have urged that Gold OA (publishing) advocates should not over-reach (”Gold Fever“) — by pushing directly for the conversion of all publishers and authors to Gold OA, and criticizing and even opposing Green OA and Green OA mandates as “not enough” — I urge the advocates of automatized robotic data-mining to be patient and help rather than hinder Green OA and Green OA (and ID/OA) mandates.
PMR: I am not – I hope – hindering Green access. I am not personally agitating for Green or Gold – my energies go into arguing that the experimental process must not be copyrighted by the publisher or anyone else. And that institutional repositories should start to be much much more proactive and actively support the digital research process.