I’m thrilled by the following news which appeared early today. For those who don’t know the publishing industry well The Scholarly Soup Kitchen is seen as one of the key commenters on all things scholarly and is widely read for its perspective on innovation and independence from conventional power blocks. Its CEO Ant Kenderson commented on the recent HEFCE proposals for Open Access repositories
Yesterday the UK’s HEFCE made a tremendous stride forward when it mandated that all evaluation of its academics should take place through Open Access papers in a repository. At SSK we have consistently argued that all publication should be open and available to the whole world. We feel that the vast fees demanded by so-called “Glamour mags” are outrageous and we should strive for zero-cost of access. The main point of the new repository is to promote the outcome of UK scholarship to the whole world for free – we hope that other countries follow suit. arXiv can publish for as little as 7 USD, and HEFCE is following suit.
We have a few minor quibbles. HEFCE still allows infinitely long embargoes and we are working with them to remove this clause. No modern publisher likes embargoes as it means people can’t read papers, and that’s the whole point of publishing, isn’t it. Also HEFCE seems to allow authors to ignore the mandate. Effectively they say “if you want to publish in journal X and it doesn’t allow for deposition in the repo then find a more suitable journal. But if you can’t find one, don’t worry we shan’t enforce the mandate”. That’s wrong and we at SSK believe that all authors should be forcibly persuaded to comply.
The other exciting news of the week is that the UK will reform copyright by 2014-06-01. This will allow text and data mining without permission, format shifting and much more. We at SSK have always felt that copyright stifles innovation and so we welcome Hargreaves. We’re sad that it doesn’t go far enough and we at SSK have always pressed for the removal of the “non-commercial” clause. We support “the right to read is the right to mine” and want it to become universal. We’re working to persuade publishers to change their ideas and welcome open content mining.
We are delighted by the lifting of copyright on parody. Everyone should have the right to poke fun at pompous or out of date people and institutions. Parody, like Swift or Orwell, can change our values and liberate basic human values. Swift parodied the publishing industry which, in his time, did not publish but left all the work to others and simply added a “factor d’impact” designed by Queen Anne. Orwell lambasted the Departments of Openness and Truth which all major publishers implemented and whose role was to create barrier for readers (“murs de payment”) , and browbeat authors and reviewers into slavery for the industry.
Thank goodness those days are gone.
The full text of Kenderson’s post can be read here.