Quantumplation of Wellcome Trust spreadsheet and Wiley-Blackwell Licences

I am working very closely with Michelle Brook on OKFN science and the Content Mine. Yesterday she spent much of it hacking the splendid Wellcome Trust spreadsheet of how much WT has spent on Open Access APCs and  with which publisher. It’s a splendid document, but no more than a responsible organisation should provide. There’s about 2400 entries with an average spend of 2000-3000 GBP and top of ca 6000 GBP (guess who?).
The spreadsheet is large and complex and so, in true OKFN spirit, Michelle is leading us in a datathon. It’s now in a Google spreadsheet which means that lots of us can share it. I’ve worked with communal docs before but not spreadsheets. There’s often about 5-10 people logged in, with 2-3 actively editing. That seems to mean that the spreadsheet can jump around – sorting on publisher, or title or … The attendees are all animals, starting with Anonymous Aardvark, and doubtless Anonymous Kangaroo. Haven’t yet worked out how to show my real name…
Anyway it’s been valuable – if stultifying boring – for me. I’ve been going through the Elsevier entries, scraping the titles and Googling them. I correct a few minor errors. But mainly I want to see if the paper is behind a paywall. It’s boring because most aren’t and the frequency of mispaywalling seems to be ca. 1% (I can’t be sure because Elsevier may be tweaking the papers right now). [But that’s a completely unacceptable frequency and I’ll show how much it costs the world.].
Michelle’s blog is Quantumplations and in here latest post she is puzzled by Wiley-Blackwell’s licences.

Every Wiley-Blackwell article I’ve looked at so far makes the statement: “Re-use of this article is permitted in accordance with the Creative Commons Deed, Attribution 2.5, which does not permit commercial exploitation.” (For an example, see the image below).

This is junk from WB.
CC-BY allows any use – it only requires attribution. You can use it for sun-beds, baby milk, tobacco and alcohol. You can build bombs with it.
I have three possible explanations (these are on the OKFN mailing lists) – I am not saying which

  • Incompetence. WB don’t understand licences. That’s inexcusable as their whole business is built on licensing material that scholars have given them. They should understand licences.
  • Indifference. “Doesn’t matter whether we get it right. Who cares? The libraries and funders will keep paying us.”
  • Deliberate. It actually helps WB business in some way to give misinformation. See “Elseviergate” for discussion.

What is clear is that the standard of business practice in TollAccess scholarly publishing is appalling. If they built aircraft they would fall out of the sky. If they made electric goods people would get electrocuted. If they ran banks people would lose money.
But, hey, it’s only Scholarly Publishing. No-one minds if publishers foul up. It doesn’t cost anyone – it’s only public money – and we can mend it when MLB and PMR complain.
Well it DOES cost and I’ll show why in a later post.

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