I had the pleasure of talking to Andrew Albanese at Pubishers Weekly about AI, copyright, and the creative economy for this piece: Authors Join the Brewing Legal Battle Over AI. Andrew is one of the most perceptive observers of this little corner of the world - the intersection of law, technology, book culture, and the book industry, and it was great to chat with him and share what I think is maybe the hardest thing for some folks to grasp: the parts of the creative economy that could be decimated very quickly by AI cannot be saved by copyright. I didn’t say this to Andrew because I don’t think it had occurred to me, yet, but watching the SAG-AFTRA and Writers Guild go on strike to get a deal that charts a sustainable coexistence for writers, actors, and robots sure seems like a better approach. If only more creative sectors were as unionized as Hollywood.
Your Friday Read this week is from Phil Cohen, a sociologist and demographer at the University of Maryland. Phil has been an open science advocate for years, and that has put him at odds with the American Sociological Association, the largest professional association of sociologists in the world (per Wikipedia). Phil quit the ASA two years ago, citing a laundry list of issues, and (per a chart Phil shared on Mastodon this morning) he’s not the only one losing interest in what the ASA has to offer.
Happy Weekend, everybody! As you may have noticed, I’ve been leaving the words “big deal” out of the title of these posts for a while, now. I decided to do that out of recognition that, in some sense, we’ve already won that conversation. Everybody seems to understand that big subscription bundles of academic journals are overpriced and overstuffed, and many of us have broken them up with no appreciable harm to our research communities. Life is good!
Happy Friday! Last week the Supreme Court dropped three opinions that libraries have been waiting for with fear and trepidation: Warhol, Gonzalez, and Twitter. In a brief interview with my UVA Library colleague Molly Minturn, I shared the upshot of these opinions for libraries and the students, scholars, and community members we serve. Check it out here: What recent Supreme Court rulings on copyright and terrorism mean for libraries.
Not long ago, the good folks at Freethink asked me to expand and extend my thinking in my Fair Use Week blog post on AI to publish as part of a special issue on AI and Creativity. That issue just came out last week, and I think the whole thing will reward your time and attention. There is no hotter issue than AI and creatvity, at least in my corner of the universe, and I think they’ve done a great job of bringing together thinkers and ideas that go beyond the usual technophobia and dystopia thinking around this stuff.
Did you know that “public domain” and “publicly available” are not the same thing? Indeed, many many works that are in the public domain (free of copyright) are not publicly available. What’s more, many of these works are being sold by a handful of licensors. Among the largest is Getty Images. This Friday’s link is to a short film about this state of affairs, which doubles as an an act of liberation for some of the most striking footage in the Getty collection. Check it out at the link below:
Judge John Koeltl of the Southern District of New York heard oral arguments in the Hachette v. Internet Archive case this past Monday. I listened in via telephone, along with hundreds of others, as the parties pressed their core arguments with the judge, and the judge asked questions that might reveal what his key concerns are at this stage. The Authors Alliance has an excellent recap of the arguments here. Below is my quick summary of the case and my own brief thoughts on the argument.
A Fair Use Week Guest Post by UVA Media Studies Prof. Kevin Driscoll
A Fair Use Week Guest Post by Prof. Katie Schetlick, UVA Drama Dept.
This is a cross-post of my guest blog for Harvard’s Fair Use Week Series.
Every year around this time, libraries, archives, and allied institutions and groups celebrate Fair Use Week, a time to recognize the power and importance of the fair use doctrine in our daily lives. Fair use is the First Amendment safety valve in copyright law, allowing use of in-copyright works without payment or permission when the use serves copyright’s purpose without intruding unfairly on the copyright holder’s commercial prerogatives. Fair use is crucial for research, teaching, criticism, commentary, and news reporting (purposes that are mentioned explicitly in the statute). This week, you can celebrate and learn more about fair use by checking out some of the virtual events, writings, and other special programming offered by libraries and library groups around the country. From Dungeons and Dragons to chatGPT, you can learn more about how fair use touches almost everything around you.
This week the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy announced that 2023 will be the Year of Open Science in federal agencies. This builds on their announcement last year of a deeper and more comprehensive open science policy for federally funded research. NASA’s Open Science lead Chelle Gentemann wrote an essay for Nature explaining how she became an open science fan, what a commitment to open science means for NASA, and how any research entity can take action to promote open science. Gentemann describes the agencies’ steps in committing to the Year in Open Science as follows:
This week’s Friday Longread is an essay by author Julian Gough, who is (among other things) the author of the epic final narrative poem that players see when they finish Minecraft. If your kids are like my kids, then the amount of time they spend playing that game may have caused you to wonder, as I do sometimes, if this is the most amazing or most devious thing ever created. And if you, like me, spent your youth playing video games that either uncritically reenacted the Cold War or else just let you brutally murder your friends for sport, you may also sometimes reflect happily on the rather more humanistic turn that at least this one, very popular, game has taken. But did you know that behind all that commercial success and undeniably addictive kid fun is a story about author’s rights, contract negotiation, and the public domain? Neither did I, but indeed, the full story of the “End Poem” in Minecraft has all those things and much much more. Worth your time this weekend: “I wrote a story for a friend” by Julian Gough.
For a Friday Read this week, I thought I’d share a Policy Forum article published yesterday in Science, which I co-signed along with 17 other copyright scholars from around the world, explaining how the patchwork of copyright rules for text and data mining is hampering global research. For more than a century the global copyright system has been dominated by the concerns of copyright holders, and that is reflected in the copyright treaties that most countries have signed. They include clear and strong uniform protections for copyright holders, but they are vague and weak when it comes to the rights of the public, including the rights of researchers, to use copyrighted material. Text and data mining can yield new insights in a wide variety of fields, from epidemiology to English literature, but it requires copying often massive amounts of copyrighted works in order to analyze them and then share the results. We argue that the global copyright system should be reformed to include clearer, more uniform rights for researchers to engage in text and data mining activity using in-copyright works. Check it out at the link below.
To kick off Open Access Week 2022, I was interviewed for the UVA Library news blog about the new federal open access policy and how the Library can help faculty open their research. Check it out here: Want to make your work open access? The Library can help.
The OSTP’s recently announced move to a zero-embargo open access policy for all federally funded research gives new urgency to the question of how best to fund the systems of academic peer review and publication. Charging authors a fee for publication (an “article processing charge”) is the approach favored by commercial publishers, and has been scaled up in the form of “transformative agreements” struck by large research institutions like the University of California and many national research library networks in Europe.
If you don’t know by now, well, let me tell you: yesterday the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (WHOSTP) published an update to it’s 2013 memo on access to federally funded research, and (among many other things) it eliminated the 12 month embargo on free public access. SPARC (to whom we all owe an enormous debt of gratitude for being such indefatigable and effective advocates for public access to information) has a fantastic summary. Since this regular feature is all about highlighting the Longreads, I want to draw your attention to the primary sources.
Anyone who shares this blog’s concern about the steady drumbeat of consolidation in the research publishing and infrastructure business should run, not walk, to read SPARC’s recent analysis of Elsevier’s Acquisition of Interfolio: Risks and Responses. It’s been out for a couple of weeks, but I’ve been on vacation, so I’m just now getting around to it. If you’re on a similar summer schedule, this report may have passed you by. Since outdated faculty evaluation standards and resulting broken incentives are a root cause of the inertia in our broken scholarly communication system, the acquisition of a key faculty evaluation tool by the leading oligopolist in the system is a Big Red Flag. It’s great that SPARC has its eye on this, and we will look to them for leadership on this issue as it evolves.
As the Big Deal begins to recede into the rearview mirror (somewhat, kinda, but watch this space…), I’m going to re-brand this Friday post as just a Friday ___ Read. Often it will be a longread, with the idea being that you could bookmark it for perusing during some lazy hour or two over the weekend. This week it’s a pretty short read - a Twitter thread, in fact, and not even a very long one. But I think it’s worth sharing (and archiving here in un-threaded format), because it reflects a synthesis I tried to accomplish of lots of threads that were raised in a conversation among library and public information policy advocates yesterday in DC. The informal group was convened by the Internet Archive, and we discussed a wide range of issues facing libraries in the digital/Internet era. Anyway, the thread that starts with this tweet is my attempt to sum up the situation as I see it. And here is the thread laid out in prose form (takes barely a couple of minutes to read):
As a postscript to my post last week about the advent of the Copyright Claims Board, readers should check out this new blog post by Mitch Stoltz, copyright attorney at user rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation, for succinct and perceptive rundown of the likely problems the CCB will face (and will likely create for accused infringers) as it gets up and running. Copyright “Small Claims” Quasi-Court Opens. Here’s Why Many Defendants Will Opt Out.
Artifice and Intelligence, by G'Town Center on Privacy and Technology Executive Director Emily Tucker
A smart and compelling argument for removing terms like “AI” and “machine learning” from our vocabulary. Here’s a key bit:
Today is the first day that the new Copyright Claims Board (CCB) is accepting, well, claims from the public. The CCB has been a big deal in copyright nerd circles for months, ever since Congress snuck through, er, passed the law (the CASE Act - ‘Copyright Alternatives in Small claims Enforcement’) which instructed the Copyright Office to create this new entity. We fretted about the unconstitutionality and the inequitable consequences of creating a quasi-court in the executive branch to hear “small” claims (up to $30,000) that can account for a substantial portion of most folks’ annual income. But ultimately, those concerns were not enough to stop the bill from being tacked onto a must-pass COVID relief bill and becoming law. So what does this new court-adjacent board thingy mean for faculty, students, and staff at a place like UVA?
Happy Friday! And for folks like me with kids in Charlottesville City Schools, happy last day of School/first day of shuttling your children to camp/pool/wherever else. This week we’re going to take a break from Big Deals (which already seem like yesterday’s news) and look at something a little trendier: Non-Fungible Tokens or NFTs. Personally, I’m with UVA Alum and “guy from The OC” Ben McKenzie, who thinks the cult of “crypto” is basically a scam. But as a copyright lawyer, the thing that really burns me about this stuff is the mostly braindead boosterism inspired by NFTs—a special application of blockchain technology that creates unique (hence “non-fungible”) entries on a cryptographic ledger. This week’s Longread, Copyright Vulnerabilities in NFTs, comes from three scholars of copyright and technology who provide a desperately-needed primer on how copyright actually works in connection with NFTs, and a guided tour of all the flaws in the half-baked attempts we’ve seen so far to use NFTs to somehow replace, improve, or reinstate copyright in a world of digital abundance.
This week’s longread isn’t really about Big Deals, but it’s even more important, because it gets to the root cause of the Big Deal problem (and every problem) in academic publishing: the promotion and tenure system in most academic departments and its dysfunctional fixation on publishing in prestigious, “high impact” journals in a given field. This creates strong incentives for academics to sign away their articles (and their copyrights) to the publishing oligopolies, who have long ago cornered the market on “high impact” journal titles. If the journal is paywalled, then the science is inaccessible and must be ransomed back at a massive upcharge. Even if the journal is open access, or hybrid, the scholar is extorted for absurd fees in exchange for the tenure-securing placement.
Happy Friday! This week’s Big Deal Longread is actually a Long watch - a video of a virtual presentation by the neurobiologist Bjorn Brembs, a frequent agitator for radical reform to the scholarly publishing ecosystem. In this lecture, Brembs addresses two major issues in the world of academic publishing: the oligopoly publishers’ deleterious effects on science itself, and their “pivot to data analytics” (or, as Jefferson Pooley helpfully characterizes it in one of last week’s longreads, surveillance publishing) as a core business. Putting these two phenomena together, Brembs concludes that if the big publishers are truly pivoting away from publishing as their core business, that can only be good for science. The sooner these companies exit publishing, the better, Brembs argues. Watch the full presentation here:
The first issue of Volume 25 of the recently reborn Journal of Electronic Publishing has brought a veritable smorgasboard of interesting articles relevant to our topics here at The Taper, and in particular to our Friday Big Deal Longread. (Perhaps the natural affinity between JEP and UVA shouldn’t be a surprise: our Dean of Libraries, John Unsworth, has been on its editorial board since the journal’s original inception.) Rather than pick any one article, I’m recommending the entire issue.
This week’s Big Deal Longread is actually quite short - barely two pages, including generous headers, footers, and notes! - and it’s a holdover I’ve been meaning to share for a while, now: Equity in Open Access, a statement published late last year by the group ALLEA - “the European Federation of Academies of Sciences and Humanities, representing more than 50 academies from over 40 EU and non-EU countries.” The statement is a critique of “gold” (author pays) open access models, and of the Bigger Deal/Read-and-Publish approach that bundles Gold author payments into a large institutional deal. While these models do result in the publication of scientific results under an open license, they are nevertheless inconsistent with some of the core values of the open access movement, ALLEA argues.
The latest from academic comedy vlogger/Youtuber/TikTokker/whatever-we-call-online-video-makers-nowadays-guy Dr. Glaucomflecken hits topics near and dear to this blog’s heart: the grabby and insane model of copyright transfer in academic publishing. Sometimes you have to laugh not to cry. Enjoy!
I’m working on something interesting with my friend and collaborator Pat Aufderheide: a survey of scholars who use text and data-mining to get a sense of whether and how copyright impacts their work. You can read more about the survey in Pat’s blog post here: New Survey on Access Barriers to Text and Data Mining Research
Phil Bourne, the dean of the School of Data Science here at UVA, has a concise and compelling new blog post up this week about what he calls The Curse of the h-index. In it, Dean Bourne lays out some vivid examples from his own work to show how far the h-index falls short of actually representing anything like an individual’s scholarly merit.
In a new report published this week, the US Office of Science and Technology Policy recounts
This video manages to say essentially all that needs to be said about our broken scholarly communication system in less than 2 minutes, and it’s funny. A total must-watch for anyone who cares at all about research, academia, and access to information. Dr. Glaucomflecken on Twitter: “Nature does open access
Back in 2019, we celebrated a milestone: for the first time since 1998 the public domain of published works gained a tranche of new works. Every year since, on January 1, we celebrate Public Domain Day as works published 96 years before shed their copyrights and become free for all to use in any way they’d like, without payment to or permission from anyone. This year, we welcome works published in 1926, including iconic works like Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises and A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh, pathbreaking debuts like Langston Hughes’ first poetry collection The Weary Blues, and every sound recording published before 1923.
The open science movement achieved a major victory last week when UNESCO member states unanimously approved a Recommendation on Open Science. It’s key objectives and areas of action are:
Jonathan Band has just published an interesting quantitative update on his excellent 2015 essay The Complexity Dialectic: A Case Study From Copyright Law. In his original essay, Jonathan argued that forces at play in the US regulatory system lead to unworkably complex rules that ill-serve the public. He used the US Copyright Office’s triennial Rulemaking for the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (whew!) as his prime example, and this year he has an update showing how the number of words used in the rules has changed over time. Check out the full piece, and the statistics, here:
It’s been a while, but we’re back with another in our occasional series of Friday Big Deal Longreads. In this semi-regular feature, we highlight a longer-form essay, article, or report relating to the deeply dysfunctional system that currently governs the way scholarship is reviewed, published, rewarded, and (crucially) monetized by extractive commercial entities.
A chill wind blows over study aids: Pearson v. Chegg Challenges Lawfulness of Supplementary Educational Materials
In a new blog post, Jonathan Band (a copyright attorney and policy expert who has long advised library associations and allied groups) gives an overview of the new lawsuit filed against Chegg by the textbook publisher Pearson. The lawsuit claims that Chegg infringes the copyright in Pearson’s textbooks by offering a supplement product that provides answers to the study questions bundled with Pearson texts. While part of the complaint is fairly traditional, in that it claims Chegg literally copied the questions that Pearson publishes, another part of the argument is, as Jonathan says, “more abstract.” Pearson appears to claim that because it holds a copyright in the study questions, it has the exclusive right to publish answers, which it says are “derivative works” subject to their exclusive control under copyright law. Jonathan does an excellent job laying out how the arguments could play out from there - the arguments Chegg can make in response, etc. But Jonathan also notes the disturbingly broad policy implications of Pearson’s theory: it would chill every complementary or supplemental product designed to help students taking courses with a particular textbook.
It’s been a minute since we posted anything about our friends the Big Deal academic publishing vendors. In part, it’s probably because it’s hard to stay mad at this busted business model now that we’ve left it behind. Unfortunately, just when we thought we were out, it seems they are pulling us back in.
Now available: Open educational resource of Building Legal Literacies for Text Data Mining – Building LLTDM
I’m excited to share this news about a new OER on legal literacies for text and data mining. I worked on the “Building LLTDM” project last summer - it was an NEH-sponsored summer institute that brought together legal experts, library professionals, and scholars to work through a set of core literacies for working with text and data mining methodologies using copyright- and otherwise encumbered content. I’ve shared the draft materials internally with colleagues here at UVA because I couldn’t wait to get it into other people’s hands, but now there’s a final, published/polished OER hosted by Pressbooks. Please share far and wide - we hope it will be useful for folks!
As a sequel to my piece earlier today about the new UC-Elsevier deal, I want to recommend this opinion piece by Shaun Khoo, whose study on the hyperinflation of APCs added empirical heft to my intuitions about whether APCs can drive change in academic publishing. This morning, I argued that changing Elsevier into a pay-to-publish operation is not really the kind of change we need. In his piece, Khoo argues that boycotting Elsevier is also not really a useful tactic, other than perhaps for consciousness raising. What’s needed is investment in alternatives, and more importantly, culture change that makes it attractive for authors to choose those alternatives.
Catching up on the Fair Use Week blogging action, yesterday’s entry from Kenny Crews should give us all cause for concern. In it, he describes the CASE Act, a law that was passed as part of the COVID Relief bill late last year. (Why was it part of the COVID Relief Bill? Because it was a must-pass bill, stuffed with all kinds of goodies that might not have passed on their own.)
To celebrate Fair Use Week 2021, I was honored to contribute a blog post on the Apple v. Corellium opinion to the Copyright at Harvard Library blog. The case has very interesting implications for software preservation. Most importantly, it finds that making a software title available for security research purposes is transformative, which is a crucial finding that strongly favors fair use. Libraries and other cultural heritage institutions should be encouraged by Judge Smith’s ruling that fair use allows Corellium to build a lucrative business selling a platform that makes iOS available for research purposes. At the same time, there’s a very troubling shoe yet to drop: the DMCA’s “anti-trafficking” provision may swoop in to ruin everything, regardless of fair use.
Stop what you’re doing and read this compelling round-up of reactions to Nature’s announcement of $10k+ OA fees for publishing in their most prestigious journals. We should listen to researchers in Kenya, South Africa, and many other countries where these fees are seen for what they are: absurd and exclusionary luxury pricing, inimical to the goals and values of science.
Publishing, P&T, and Equity, an Open Access Week Miniseries, Part 3: How Librarians Became Experts on Publishing and Equity
Publishing, P&T, and Equity, an Open Access Week Miniseries, Part 2: Start Rewarding Access, Alignment, and Engagement
This is part 2 of our 3-part mini-series of blog posts on Publishing, P&T, and Equity. The overarching issue: how to reform our research evaluation processes to eliminate bias and promote equity. On Monday I argued for ending P&T standards that reward journal ‘prestige.’ But I don’t believe institutions should be completely blind to how a scholar chooses to publish the products of her research. Instead, we should reward scholarly activities that prioritize access, alignment, and engagement.
Publishing, P&T, and Equity, an Open Access Week Miniseries, Part 1: Stop Rewarding Journal “Prestige”
Happy Open Access Week! The theme for this year is “Open with purpose: taking action to build structural equity and inclusion.” Of all the policy structures that affect equity and inclusion at a university like ours, perhaps none is more important than policies governing promotion and tenure. Not coincidentally, these policies can also have a dramatic effect on the incentives for scholars to publish their work in open access venues, or to share data, code, preprints, and other research products freely (and with open licenses, formats, etc.)—research practices that promote public access to knowledge, increasing equity and opportunity for all. Given the centrality of promotion and tenure to equity, inclusion, and open access, I’d like to share a few thoughts and resources on these three ideas over the course of the week. My overall proposal is that one of the most important actions any decision-maker can take to build structural equity and inclusion is to reform promotion and tenure.
Our latest Friday Big Deal Long Read is actually a long watch:
If you’re interested in software and/or copyright, you might enjoy this summary of takeaways I wrote up (not so quick as I hoped it would be…) for the Software Preservation Network, based on my viewing of last week’s oral arguments in the landmark Oracle v. Google case: —Google v. Oracle Oral Argument: Quick Takeaways for Software Preservation
Phil Bourne, the Dean of our School of Data Science at UVA, has published a fascinating entry on his blog reflecting on the importance of openness to the field of data science, and to the School in particular. In addition to its extensive reliance on massive, open datasets, Dr. Bourne explains that data science would benefit from more widespread open science publishing because, “In short, current closed access publishing models make it difficult or impossible for data scientists to mine that content.”
A recent decision out of the Southern District of New York is a nice illustration of just how friendly fair use can be to scholarly uses of images. Fair use is the right that allows use of in-copyright works without permission in some contexts, and as this case shows, a scholarly context is often a very friendly one for fair use.
The persistence of closed access journals is a collective action problem, specifically a coordination problem. As economist Ted Bergstrom shows in his parable of the Anarchists’ Annual Meeting (see p.10), the main barrier to transitioning to an open access publishing system is the inability of scholars in particular fields to agree together to divest from closed venues and redirect their energy (and prestige) to open ones.
An ecosystem is a compelling metaphor. A healthy ecosystem is complex, balanced, and interdependent. It lives, thrives, grows, etc. As such, the ecosystem metaphor is a good way to warn against extraction, factory farming, pollution, over-fishing, ‘invasive’ phenomena, and even ‘disruption.’ When I talk about copyright, I often talk about a “cultural” or “expressive” ecosystem, which copyright is supposed to foster, and which consists not only of “creators” and copyright holders, but also of teachers, students, critics, scholars, politicians, and any number of other organisms whose well-being depends in part on being embedded in a healthy ecosystem.
Happy Friday, y’all! In lieu of the usual academic article or long-ish blogpost, I want to share
two three major Big Deal breakups that were announced in the last couple of days. Iowa State, UNC-Chapel Hill and the entire SUNY system have announced that they are breaking up their Big Deals with Elsevier, switching to an a la carte set of their most-used journal titles. The cuts appear to be quite deep - IA State is retaining 428 journals, UNC is retaining 395 of the 2000 or so titles in the Big Deal, and SUNY has retained a ‘core list’ of 248 titles, which individual institutions in the SUNY system may augment with additional titles if needed to support local priorities.
In an announcement posted today, the Provost and University Librarian at UNC Chapel Hill explain that they are making major cuts to their Elsevier Big Deal, dropping the vast majority of titles and subscribing to just the core, frequently-used part of the portfolio. The full announcement is worth a read, as is this Twitter thread from Elaine Westbrooks. Some commentary from me:
As the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy is in the midst of an inquiry into whether and how to update federal open access policy, many are wondering whether increasing free access to research will undermine the ecosystem of scholarly journals. For a sense of what to expect, it’s worth looking at how the National Institutes of Health policy, the longest-running federal open access policy, effected the biomedical journals where funded researchers were likely to publish.
I was happy to have the chance to co-author this blog post with Tucky Taylor and Kyle Courtney about screening films online, especially with the Zoom “Share my screen” functionality. I wish the answer were cleaner! There may never have been a better example of how the law has been warped, both by rights holders’ moral panic about digital piracy (which led them to lobby for strictures in the TEACH Act that have rendered it an unworkable mess) and by their massively increased power in the age of licensed, streamed media. A teacher can perform or display ANYTHING for ANY REASON with ZERO WORRY if they’re using physical media in a physical classroom. Now contrast that with the mish-mash of angst that you have to work through to do even the most obviously legit activities in an online environment.
I’m proud to be part of this plain, simple, but powerful statement in favor of using fair use to support teaching and research in these extraordinary circumstances. Special credit should go to Brandy Karl at Penn State Libraries who helped to organize a busy group of librarian-lawyers and to bring this statement and related efforts to fruition. Read the whole thing here:
My friend and library copyright maven extraordinaire Nancy Sims has written the guide that we all may need sooner than we’d like to admit: Rapidly shifting your course from in-person to online. If you’re looking for good advice on this issue, check out Nancy’s post. If you’re not sure how it translates to our context here at UVA, drop me an email and I can help you work through it.
This might be surprising given our general pro-open access bent here at The Taper, but this news from VCU is welcome: they are ending their support for Open Access fees. It’s welcome news because, as VCU notes in its announcement, libraries subsidizing APCs:
Weekend Big Deal Longread for March 6: "How the academic publishing oligopoly skews debates on the cost of publishing"
Happy Friday! This week brings another modest entry in our Big Deal Longread series; we might more accurately call this a “read,” TBH, because it’s not that long at all. But it’s still a thoughtful and thought-provoking entry in the discussion about the future of academic publishing. In “How the academic publishing oligopoly skews debates on the cost of publishing,” Moore provides some useful reminders about the diversity of publishers and publishing models out there, and the value of preserving (and growing) that diversity. He also explains how the concentration of power in the hands of just a few (mostly commercial) publishers has obscured that diversity, leading to discussions that emphasize openness or affordability without recognizing that even an open, affordable landscape could be dominated by a dysfunctional oligopoly in ways that harm researchers.
Later this year, my friend Peter Jaszi and I are speaking on a panel at the 2020 Biographers Conference, to help that community understand how fair use can help them do their very important work. In advance of that conference, Peter and I were sent a series of questions that will become an interview published in The Biographer’s Craft, the group’s monthly newsletter. They were generous enough to let me publish my own rough answers to their questions here, for Fair Use Week. Peter will add his thoughts, and the final version will go up on the BIO website. For now, enjoy my own rough cut version!
For Day Four of Fair Use Week, I want to commend to your attention an excellent blog post by my friend Dave Hansen, Associate University Librarian for Research, Collections & Scholarly Communications at Duke University Libraries. In it, he warns against over-reliance and oversimplification of fair use, and points to some recent cases where folks are in danger of hurting the doctrine by treating it like a “God in the Machine” that can swoop down and rescue us whenever we feel threatened by copyright law. Check it out here, at Harvard’s OSC blog: Fair Use Week 2020: Day Four With Guest Expert David Hansen
For Day 3 of Fair Use Week, I wanted to share a few thoughts on the current state of fair use and sampling in music, especially (but not uniquely!) in hip hop.
cross-posted at the Fair Use Week Blog at Harvard.
Today is the first day of Fair Use Week 2020! Of course, fair use is the flexible user’s right to copy, share, and otherwise use in-copyright works without payment or permission, in the right circumstances. Folks often panic at that last part—what are “the right circumstances”? And since fair use is so important, and it really is a user’s right (not a privilege or a defense or whatever other gobbledygook some folks try to say to scare you out of using it…), it’s really important that ordinary people be able to make reasonable, confident decisions about what the right circumstances are.
This week’s longread is not too long, actually, but it’s a nice exploration of a vexing topic, through the lens of a new tool that might help shift the dynamic in a very useful direction. Check out Reforming Research Assessment: A Tough Nut to Crack, published earlier this week. And follow the links in her piece to read more about the miserable culture that permeates research, as well as the deep thoughts at Center for Open Science that animate the release of tools like the TOP Factor.
I was proud to be part of the drafting process, and to sign onto this: Joint Comment to WIPO on Copyright and Artificial Intelligence. As WIPO appears to be embarking on a policy inquiry into the relationship between AI (so hot right now) and copyright, this early intervention tries to ensure they ask the right questions.
Yesterday I learned that the Vice Provost for Research here at UVA is hosting a half-day workshop on scientific integrity in March. I’ll be there, for sure, because when I saw the topic, I thought immediately of the Big Deal. If you’re not steeped in this stuff, the notion that expensive, high-prestige journals would have a negative effect on the quality of science may be counterintuitive. Indeed, lower quality and lower “integrity” are more often associated with so-called “predatory” journals.
'We're opening everything': Scientists share coronavirus data in unprecedented way to contain, treat disease
The radical openness that scientists are using to tackle the coronavirus are shining a light on the value of openness in general. As Vincent Lariviere observes, isn’t the adoption of openness here an admission that traditional systems are slowing progress everywhere else?
Two articles released in the last week tell a compelling story when read in tandem.
This week’s ‘read is not so long. In fact, it should take just about 6 minutes, according to Medium. So set aside a few minutes during this long weekend to take a look at this open letter from 21 scholars, addressing the tricky relationship between learned societies and for-profit publishers. One of the authors is UVA faculty member, and co-founder of the Center for Open Science, Brian Nosek.
Today my friends Kendra Albert and Daina Bouquin, along with coauthors Alena Farber and Russell Hoover of the Cyberlaw Clinic at Harvard Law School, published the Copyright Guide for Scientific Software. It’s a really handy, short and sweet guide to the ways that copyright can impact the ways you use, reuse, and share the software that scientists make and use in their research. It’s the first guide of its kind, to my knowledge, and should be required reading for any scientist who works with software.
Friday's Big Deal (not-so-long) Read: Leaked Dutch Contract with Elsevier Raises Significant Alarm Bells
From Claudio Aspesi, long-time observer of the academic publishing industry, comes a powerful warning about the dangers of a rumored deal between Dutch universities and Elsevier. The deal is said to include lower prices for the Big Deal journal bundle in exchange for the Dutch agreeing to purchase more of Elsevier’s data analytics products. Aspesi has warned repeatedly about the dangers of allowing these commercial data products to become entrenched in the decision-making processes at colleges and universities, and this deal seems like a move decisively in this dangerous direction:
I was lucky enough to be able to advise Prof. Guler just a little bit as she was working with Arin to develop this grant proposal, which supports the creation of new virtual reality models of infectious diseases. I was thrilled by her interest in making all the products of this grant openly and freely available for reuse as open educational resources. Once their completed, all models will be posted to the VIVA Open OER hub to ensure these very cool tools are findable and reusable by teachers and students anywhere in the world.
Last week I tweeted about my angst at the Supreme Court taking its first case about fair use in 25 years. The good folks at Law360 reached out and asked if I could expand my thoughts, so I did, and here’s the result: Google-Oracle High Court Fight Threatens Fair Use Ecosystem.
I recently had the opportunity to record this fun little interview about authors rights and open access with my colleague Ashley Hosbach, the Librarian who works with our Curry School of Education. Faculty at Curry, like so many at UVA, have a real impact on policy and practice every day, shaping the future of education in profound ways. Using open access, they can make their work even more accessible to policymakers, teachers, and learners, increasing their impact and changing the world for the better.
From Scholastica, this is a nice overview of the “overlay journal” concept, a highly affordable mode of publishing that leverages the open repository infrastructures that many research institutions already support. H/T the OA Tracking Project.
For this final post for Open Access Week 2019, I’d like to focus on one of the oldest and (IMO) coolest tricks in the open access playbook: the “open access policy.” It’s a bland name for a powerful legal maneuver, and to answer this year’s theme, “open for whom,” an OA policy can make the status quo scholarly publishing system open for authors in a way that preserves their freedom of choice about publishing venue by making an open option available regardless of venue. We can supercharge OA policies by combining them with tools like the MIT Framework for Publisher Contracts, turning the abstractions in the policy into concrete gains for public access to knowledge.
Harvard’s University Librarian, Martha Whitehead, has a powerful statement up today on Harvard’s commitments to advancing open access. I want to highlight this part, which I think is crucial. It gets down to brass tacks on an important issue with which the open access community needs to reckon. When we talk about equity, and “open for whom,” we have to talk about APCs, which are inherently problematic from an equity perspective:
This week’s guest post comes from Dave Ghamandi, Open Publishing Librarian, and gives an update on the work he’s doing at Aperio, the open access publishing house that lives at the UVA Library.
The Journal of Modern Philosophy now included in the Directory of Open Access Journals
Statement of Virginia Research Library Deans and Directors on Endorsing the MIT Framework for Publisher Contracts
I am running from pillar to post again today (just arrived at ODU!), but wanted to be sure I shared a link to this—the MIT Framework fills an important gap for all of us who want to reform our investments with big vendors:
Today’s OA Week Guest Post is by Sherry Lake, our scholarly repository librarian. For the last several years, Sherry has been focused on data sharing, supporting UVA researchers in managing their data and sharing it with our data repository, LibraData. For today’s post, Sherry explains how her work helps make it easy for researchers to do the right thing.
Our first guest post for OA Week 2019 is by Rebecca Cooper Coleman, Research Librarian for Architecture. Rebecca’s work on a regional equity atlas started from a recognition of the long-running problem of universities engaging with their communities in a way that doesn’t always reflect the equitable and public-spirited aspirations of the academy. Reforming a university’s approach to its neighbors can be difficult; here Rebecca explains how open access to research can be a relatively simple step in the right direction.
It’s Open Access Week 2019! This year’s theme asks a question that needs our attention more than ever as the consensus solidifies around an open access future: Open for whom? How can we ensure that new, “open” forms of scholarship don’t impose new kinds of barriers (or re-create old ones) that are inconsistent with the egalitarian vision of the open access movement? How can we make equity a priority in our open access work?
Hyku Open Source Institutional Repository Development partnership awarded $1M Arcadia grant to improve open scholarship infrastructure
Exciting announcement today from my colleagues working on institutional repositories:
Weekly Big Deal Longread: “Article Processing Charge Hyperinflation and Price Insensitivity: An Open Access Sequel to the Serials Crisis”
Khoo, S. Y.-S. (2019). Article Processing Charge Hyperinflation and Price Insensitivity: An Open Access Sequel to the Serials Crisis. LIBER Quarterly, 29(1), 1–18. DOI: http://doi.org/10.18352/lq.10280
Elaine Westbrooks gets it. She’s the Vice Provost for University Libraries and University Librarian at UNC-Chapel Hill, and she’s just inaugurated what looks to be a series of posts on the need to transform our relationship to scholarly journals (and, more importantly, their commercial publishers) with an essay that shows how very far we’ve come from the origins of scholarly journals as a service by and for scholars.
With apologies for the delay, I want to offer a Big Deal Longread for this past weekend that is hot off the presses: From symbiont to parasite: the evolution of for-profit science publishing by Peter Walter and Dyche Mullins, two molecular biologists at UC San Francisco. In it, the authors bring evolutionary metaphors to bear in describing the changing relationship between scholars and commercial publishers like Elsevier, proposing steps that individual academics can take to help their communities escape from what they characterize as a parasitic relationship. Here’s the Abstract:
Weekend Big Deal Longread for Friday, Sept. 13, 2019: Evaluating Big Deal Journal Bundles, by Bergstrom, Courant, et al.
This week’s Longread is a stroll down memory lane to 2014 to read a pathbreaking article, Evaluating Big Deal Journal Bundles, by Ted Bergstrom, Paul Courant, R. Preston McAfee, and Michael A. Williams. The authors used Freedom of Information Act requests to amass a collection of Big Deal journal contracts from a variety of institutions. Elsevier actually brought legal challenges to two of these requests, filing a lawsuit in Washington state claiming that their prices are trade secrets, and contesting another FOIA request in Texas. State authorities rejected both challenges, clearing the way for the the first major comparison of journal bundle deals across a variety of providers and types of institutions.
This week I wanted to share two shorter pieces with you, both from the Scholarly Kitchen blog, a venue that publishes analysis of scholarly publishing that is often from a more industry-friendly perspective, but with contributions from librarians and neutral analysts as well.
Your humble correspondent has been traveling some these last few weeks, and I apologize that I haven’t had a chance to post your weekly long-read in a while! But I’m back, and with a new read that, while not really a longread, per se, is certainly a timely one. In Pursuing a new kind of “big deal” with publishers, Lindsay McKinsey at Inside Higher Ed describes a public meeting hosted by the University of California libraries who have been engaged in one of the highest-profile fights over big deals in the US in a long time. I have my concerns about the whole “transformative agreement” project, but it is clearly an important phenomenon to watch.
If you’re reading this blog, you may have at least a passing familiarity with the Jeffersonian aphorism from which The Taper takes its name. If so, you might be interested in a new article by Jeremy Sheff, summarized and reviewed by Dave Fagundes here, that traces the origins of the metaphor back to Cicero, and a very different theory of property and justice. Sheff explains that the Cicero’s version of the taper story is a parable about charity and beneficence, built on a theory of property and justice that is, well, not very Jeffersonian. Looking forward to the reading the full article!
Team Awarded Grant to Help Digital Humanities Scholars Navigate Legal Issues of Text Data Mining – UC Berkeley Library Update
I’m really proud to be part of this Berkeley-led project, which was just awarded a $165,000 grant by the NEH. Our goal is to spread the good news about the way the law treats text and data mining (it’s heavily favored by fair use!), and to help folks think through an array of legal and ethical issues that come up once you get into the nitty gritty of doing that kind of research. Next June we will assemble a group of humanities researchers, librarians, and research staff and walk them through these issues, with help from a star-studded team of experts.
Our weekend Big Deal Longread this week may be one of the ultimates of the genre: Richard Poynder’s history Not Price But Cost.
As I said a year ago, when I first ran across this essay, Ken Frazier was a Big Deal Cassandra back in 2001—he tried to warn us at the dawn of the Big Deals that nothing good would come of them, but nobody listened. In The Librarians’ Dilemma: Contemplating the Costs of the “Big Deal”, Frazier made a compelling case against these new package deals of electronic journals. 18 years and countless budget crises later, Frazier is looking downright prophetic.
In this message from the Provost, LSU announces it will leave Elsevier’s Big Deal and go title-by-title to purchase only the most-used content from Elsevier.
According to information provided by UVa, several large journal packages consume about 40% of the libraries’ collections budget. Elsevier, which offers the most expensive package, provided 3,354 journals in 2018 at a cost of $1.8 million, or 19% of the collections budget that year.
Weekend Big Deal Longread #2: The Changing Academic Publishing Industry – Implications for Academic Institutions, by Claudio Aspesi
The move by publishers into the core research and teaching missions of colleges and universities, with tools aimed at evaluating productivity and performance, means that the academic community could lose control over vast areas of its core activities. In addition, the collection of massive amounts of data about faculty and students poses a significant legal and reputational risk for institutions, along with potential privacy and security threats for individuals.
Louisiana State University Dean of Libraries Stanley Wilder announced on Twitter last Wednesday that the LSU faculty senate had overwhelmingly passed a resolution in favor of leaving the Elsevier Big Deal. They follow Florida State University and the University of California system in securing a broad faculty endorsement of their Big Deal position in advance of negotiations with the big publisher. You can read a little more about the LSU resolution in the announcement they posted earlier this month. Gary Price has collected the minutes of the meeting and the text of the resolution at his Infodocket post.
Weekend Big Deal Long Read: “Is the staggeringly profitable business of scientific publishing bad for science?”
“Scientists are not as price-conscious as other professionals, mainly because they are not spending their own money,” [Robert Maxwell] told his publication Global Business in a 1988 interview. And since there was no way to swap one journal for another, cheaper one, the result was, Maxwell continued, “a perpetual financing machine”. Librarians were locked into a series of thousands of tiny monopolies. There were now more than a million scientific articles being published a year, and they had to buy all of them at whatever price the publishers wanted.
This is a little bit meta, but Peter Suber recently shared a really nice resource that I wanted to turn around and share with you. It’s a Google Doc with a collection of links that Peter compiled in connection with a talk he gave on UC, Elsevier, and Plan S. If the constellation of these three things interests you, you will definitely benefit from a perusal of these stories.
Welcome to "No Big Deal?": News and Links About the Cost, Value, and Sustainability of Big Journal Bundles
Today we are launching No Big Deal?, a new feature of UVA Library News that will track the latest events and scholarship about the biggest vendors serving research libraries like ours. Tracking, shaping, and responding to this landscape has always been part of what the Library does, and we would like to share some of what we are seeing, doing, and thinking with you, the faculty, students, and researchers who use our collections.
Statement from Deans and Directors of Virginia Research Libraries on the University of California System’s Termination of Contract with Elsevier
As Deans and Directors of Virginia research libraries, our core mission and our highest priority is to ensure that our research communities have access to a rich, diverse, and sustainable collection of information resources. Recently, our colleagues in the University of California system took an important stand in defense of that mission by refusing to renew their $50 million “Big Deal” contract with Elsevier, the world’s most profitable vendor of information products. We write to express our gratitude and our support for them and the brave step they have taken, the latest in a global trend of libraries rethinking their biggest expenditures.
UC system President Janet Napolitano has a nice post up today (a great coincidence with our statement) with a poignant rallying cry to public (and publicly funded) institutions:
Since the ten institutions in the University of California system walked away from their Elsevier subscriptions in February, several other institutions have expressed their support and solidarity, as well as sharing information with their local communities about what the UCs’ decision might mean to other researchers and institutions across the country. I wrote one such post for our Library News blog. You can find several more statements and explainers in this Twitter thread, started by Chris Bourg at MIT. There you’ll find statements from Oregon, Oregon State, Duke & Iowa State, Williams College, University of Minnesota, and the Canadian Association of Research Libraries.
Simple common sense and the brutal math of finite budgets tells us there’s more than correlation between exploding costs for journals from big vendors and receding investments in monographs and journals published by university presses. One of the most compelling critiques of the Big Deals is the way their sheer size and perceived “must have” status crowd out competitors in the journal market as well as non-journal resources like monographs.
From the awesome team at OAButton comes a new tool to leverage all the ways we can get access to articles outside the subscription model. It looks dead simple, and could make a big difference for institutions looking at leaving the Big Deal. Read more from Joe at OAButton:
UVA folks interested in open science, this looks like a great talk, connecting FAIR data practices to the problems facing neuroscience. Details at the DSI event page:
UC terminates subscriptions with world’s largest scientific publisher in push for open access to publicly funded research
“Make no mistake: The prices of scientific journals now are so high that not a single university in the U.S. — not the University of California, not Harvard, no institution — can afford to subscribe to them all,” said Jeffrey MacKie-Mason, university librarian and economics professor at UC Berkeley, and co-chair of UC’s negotiation team. “Publishing our scholarship behind a paywall deprives people of the access to and benefits of publicly funded research. That is terrible for society.”
This year we are celebrating Fair Use Week by profiling some of the awesome fair use heroes at UVA. Check out our final installment, highlighting how fair use helps Sarah O’Brien and Brandon Walsh teach and write critically about film and sound:
Check out the second installment in our series of profiles for Fair Use Week:
From Authors Alliance: Spotlight on Publication Contracts: Fair Use and Third-Party Permissions Clauses
The Authors Alliance is celebrating Fair Use Week with a nice blog post that covers the high points of authors’ agreements provisions on fair use and permissions. Check it out:
(Cross-posted at Kyle Courtney’s Copyright at Harvard Library blog. Thanks, Kyle, for the invitation!)
From UVA Today comes this great profile of the Library’s open publishing imprint Aperio and my colleague Dave Ghamandi, who is leading Aperio in collaboration with Mark Saunders at the University of Virginia Press. This praise from one of the Editors of our first open journal, the JMPhil, is everything we hoped for in launching this effort—connecting scholars with the tools and expertise they need to make open journals that work:
“We didn’t really know how to manage hosting or article production or archiving or any number of other technical things that go along with running a journal. This is where UVA Library and Aperio came in,” said LoLordo. She added, “it’s been a fantastic experience” working with Aperio and Ghamandi.
This post highlights one of the nearly 50 items digitized by the UVA Library in celebration of the Rebirth of the Public Domain on January 1, 2019. I’ll share similar spotlights throughout the year to help highlight the value of the public domain in entertaining, informing, and fueling the creativity of present-day readers, thinkers, artists, and others.
“Federating Repositories of Accessible Materials for Higher Education” awarded a $1,000,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
What if three major repositories of digital texts could work together with libraries, disability services offices, and university presses, to make it much, much easier to do the right thing for all our students AND comply with civil rights laws?
Inside Higher Ed reports on a highly appropos flip to open access by a journal whose core subject matter appears to be measuring science. Given that monopoly control of this metadata about science appears to be the next frontier of monetization for publisher-cum-“data analysis” company Elsevier, it makes a lot of sense that scientists who depend on access to that kind of data would be anxious to keep their own data open and free.
Copyrighted works: Robert Frost’s poem “Stopping by the Snowy Woods” enters public domain - The Washington Post
The work’s four stanzas—spare, musical and haunting—have been memorized by generations, dissected by scholars and beloved by presidents. And now that they are beyond the reach of copyright law, anyone can emblazon them anywhere, from inspirational posters to beach towels. Composers can lyricize them. Teachers can photocopy them. FedEx can paint “Miles to go” on its trucks. “Easy wind and downy flake” would make a good line of dryer sheets and laundry soap. Frost’s words belong to the ages and to everyone. —Copyrighted works: Robert Frost’s poem “Stopping by the Snowy Woods” enters public domain - The Washington Post
Public Domain Day s around the corner, and The NY Times has a nice rundown of the ways the publishing industry will be taking advantage of the new crop of free works.
[S]tudents quickly discover the gaps and blind spots in commercial services like YouTube when they attempt to study earlier periods in media history. Not only is most popular media poorly preserved, but even those materials that do turn up on the web are rarely given the context required for rigorous historical analysis.
I recently gave this interview to David Bixenspan for Gizmodo. Thanks to my friend Annemarie Bridy for sending him my way, and for giving great explanations of how the DMCA works and why the Internet Archive is wise to respond quickly and decisively to legit takedown notices. As I told David, rightsholders and others fret sometimes about whether entities like the Internet Archive are really “libraries,” but the law already handles that issue pretty well, with a fairly permissive definition that encompasses any institution that has collections open to the public, or to relevant researchers. The rights that libraries have are important, but they’re also sufficiently modest that making them available to anyone who meets minimum criteria doesn’t pose any risk to copyright holders.
Sharing your work in an open repository is a great way to increase your impact, help preserve your legacy, promote legal open access, and poke a tiny hole in the big publishers’ oligopolies. And the team at OAButton just made one of the most frustrating steps—finding the version you can legally share—a little easier with a tool that helps you find your accepted manuscript in a variety of publisher platforms. Learn more here:
Let them eat cake (that they made, reviewed, gave away for free, and now have to buy back at an absurd markup)
Suppose there was a wholly state-funded bakery, whose aim was to create world-class cakes and to encourage the development of excellent cake-baking. Everyone in the bakery – the master bakers, the managers, the kitchen assistants, the human resources consultants, the cleaners – is paid by the state. But the bakery is not allowed to give or sell the cakes directly to the public.
“The struggle itself … is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.”
This afternoon I had the pleasure of engaging in an Oxford-style debate sponsored by the Charleston Library Conference. The topic? “Resolved: all scholarship must be made freely available for access and reuse.” I argued in favor, and I’m proud to say I “won” (which, in the rules of this kind of debate, means that more people changed their mind in favor of my side over the course of the debate). It was fun, and I wanted to reproduce my opening statement and rebuttal here, in case you’re interested in reading them. My opponent, Angela Cochran, was a great sport and raised important issues that I think we should address—after we make all scholarship free to read and reuse. :)
The way to start spending less on toll access literature is to start spending less on toll access literature. Start today. Libraries should slowly but surely divest from the biggest vendor oligopolies and invest instead in open alternatives. For decades they’ve been steadily growing their prices at rates that consistently outstrip inflation, the CPI, and our own budgets’ rate of growth, and they long ago outgrew any value proposition associated with the Big Deal. It is time to divest. Call it the “Negative 2.5% Commitment.”
Libraries, Archives, and Museums: Stop Worrying About the Digital Locks on Software! (But you still need fair use.)
So the new round of DMCA rules came out this Thursday morning! They were actually prereleased on Thursday, will be printed in the Federal Register on Friday, and will go into effect on Sunday, 10/28. The amazing Harvard Cyberlaw Clinic, who took the lead in securing the rules protecting software and video game preservation, is working on an explainer that I’m sure will be more thorough and probing, but I know folks are itching for a quick digest. So, in 400 words or so, what do the new rules mean for software preservation?
In the latest episode (#9) of the podcast Science for Progress, Björn Brembs, a trenchant critic of the status quo in scientific publishing, lays out his critiques of the Journal Impact Factor, and suggests a radical alternative for awarding positions or funding among a pool of qualified candidates: random chance. Here’s a direct link to the MP3.
From Gary Price’s InfoDocket comes news that Elsevier and ACS have filed a copyright infringement suit against ResearchGate in federal court in Maryland. The suit mirrors a similar one filed almost a year ago by the same publishers in a German court.
[T]he argument that we’re all being egregiously and continuously screwed over by The Incentives is just not that good. I think there are a lot of reasons why researchers should be very hesitant to invoke The Incentives as a justification for why any of us behave the way we do. I’ll give nine of them here, but I imagine there are probably others.
I’m really excited about this. Today the Association of Research Libraries is publishing something I’ve been working on for a while now with a really wonderful team of facilitators and an amazing community of practitioners: the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Software Preservation. ARL has a detailed press release here, but I wanted to add a few of my own thoughts on the import of the document.
This is a big deal:
Most of the work involved in writing the papers, reviewing and editing them is carried out at public expense by people at universities. Yet this public asset has been captured, packaged and sold back to us for phenomenal fees. Those who pay most are publicly funded libraries. Taxpayers must shell out twice: first for the research, then to see the work they have sponsored. There might be legal justifications for this practice. There are no ethical justifications.
Aperio is pleased to announce the launch of our first publication, the Journal of Modern Philosophy.
We plan to grow a community of academics who pledge to exclusively support community-owned free open access publication systems. Crucially, pledges made by members will only become active when a pre-specified threshold of support has been reached, with names anonymised until this time, allowing individuals to show support without risking their livelihoods.
Check out this extraordinary Twitter thread by @michael_nielsen telling the story of his open monograph, “Neural Networks and Deep Learning.” Publishing his book online, free for all, got Nielsen millions of views, hundreds of thousands of reader-hours, and readership all over the world, including in places where a closed monograph would never have been accessible. He acknowledges benefiting from writing in a “hot” area, but even so, estimates that OA gave him a ~100X advantage in impact over closed publishing of the same content. He also saw pretty healthy citation rates, meaning the book is “legible” in the academic prestige economy on sites like Google Scholar.
On a business trip to New York in March 1968, Simpson toured each of the three [television] networks. At each stop, he asked to see a broadcast from the previous month. They all told him that they weren’t available – they only saved their broadcasts for about two weeks because it was too expensive to preserve them.
In a recent blog post, Rick Anderson touts a series of new studies on publishers who (mostly) lie about their value, including fictional editorial boards, false metrics, hasty or non-existent peer review processes, and more. People have a lot of opinions about these publishers, and there’s been a fair amount of scholarly writing about them, with much of the interest focused on various ways of figuring out if they are a “real problem” for the academy. Anderson says we now have more proof that “predatory publishers” (PP for short) are a real problem, and notes in a comment that, coincidentally, he’s organizing a “summit group of schol-comm stakeholders” to devise solutions.
Paywall: The Movie looks like a compelling presentation of the issues that preoccupy me, personally, for many of my waking hours every day. We’ll be screening the film in October (currently 10/25, tentatively)—watch this space for more info as the date approaches.
Yesterday Judge Claria Horn Boom (what a great name—right up there with Washington Nationals baseball player Spencer Kieboom) of the Eastern District of Kentucky issued a nice opinion(PDF), IMO, finding infringement against a radio station that used a CC-BY photo of Willie Nelson (I’m now terrified of being sued for misattributing a CC-BY photo (more on that later), so you’ll have to click through to see it) without the attribution or license information required by the CC-BY terms. The photographer, Larry Philpot, had posted the photo to Wikipedia Commons, and sent a cease-and-desist letter to the radio station when he found the photo, sans attribution or license info, used on the station’s website to promote an upcoming Nelson concert.
As I’m sure you’ve heard by now, last night the President announced his nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh of the D.C. Circuit to the Supreme Court. There is no shortage of information about Judge Kavanaugh in the media, and there will surely be much more in the coming weeks, but I wanted to call your attention to one of his opinions that has already taken center-stage among folks interested in information policy: a remarkable dissent from the DC Circuit’s opinion upholding the FCC’s net neutrality rules. (Well, not to get too wonky, but it was actually a dissent from a decision not to re-hear the case en banc, i.e., with all of the judges in the D.C. Circuit, after a smaller panel had upheld the FCC’s rule.)
If you’re a scholar looking for a list of things to do to reform the awful, evil, stupid, unjust scholarly publishing system, you could do a lot worse than this list from Jon Tennant’s recent article in Aeon:
We are finding it difficult to convince individual universities or funders to commit to supporting us even at the basic level of €1,000 per year, since their budget is eaten up by all the insistent (and well-calculated) invoicing from for-profit publishers.
Academic library directors should not sign on to the Big Deal or any comprehensive licensing agreements with commercial publishers.
Although denying fair use, these content owners were acknowledging a larger truth about copyright, the Internet, and even the law in general: It works largely due to toleration. Not every case is clear; not every outcome can be enforced; and not every potential legal outcome can be endured. Instead, “grey area” conduct must be impliedly licensed, or at least tolerated.
CC-BY does indeed allow resale — of something that is already on the Internet for free. Anyone who pays for an object under CC-BY is either making a donation, or is paying a tax for being inept at searching the Internet. And a few key elements of CC-BY make it possible to prevent dastardly uses.
UMaryland's Philip Cohen on the dysfunctional social science publishing process, and the promise of SocArXiv
Like the U.S. healthcare system, academic publishing is laboring under the burden of supporting its usurious middlemen. Getting them out of the way is a problem of politics and organization, not technology or cost. We academics do all the work already – research, writing, reviewing, editing – contributing our labor without compensation to giant companies that claim to be helping us get and keep our incredibly privileged jobs. But most of us are supported directly or indirectly by the state and our students (or their banks), not the journal publishers. We don’t need most of what the journal publishers do any more, and working for them is degrading our research, making it less innovative and transformative, less engaging and engaged, less open and accountable.
In the quest to create a universally accessible online archive, individual humans’ downloads and printouts, hoarded offline, are the only things that can complete the catalog.
UVA Today: Faculty, Students, and Librarians Are Building Open Anthologies of English Literature at UVA
Study finds that for-pay scholarly journals contribute virtually nothing to the papers they publish / Boing Boing
This blog post reprints an addendum I wrote to a short legal consultant’s report on the legal issues around archiving television news. The full report and the addendum will be available soon from Vanderbilt’s scholarly repository under a CC-BY license.
Happy Fair Use Week! Today I want to write a little about software. I’ve been working a lot with software preservation folks, lately, and trying to think about the kinds of challenges they face due to copyright. I’m hopeful the community can find fair use solutions to at least some of those challenges, but in the meantime I’ve been struck by one unique aspect of software from a copyright perspective: in many ways it’s more like a player piano than a piano roll. Courts have taken this functional aspect of software into account in many contexts, and I’m hopeful that this will make it a good candidate for fair use arguments in the preservation context.
Why am I talking about player pianos? Well, there’s a great case, typically taught fairly early in most copyright courses, called White-Smith v. Apollo, a 1908 case that deals with the copyright consequences of the then-new player piano technology. (New tech is often a challenge to copyright, which is in many important ways a regime of technology regulation, focused on copying technologies. Every time the law seems to have tamed a given technological paradigm, a shift comes along and unsettles things!) The question for the court was whether the piano rolls that allowed a player piano to play songs were “copies” of protected musical works for purposes of copyright law. If they were, the music publishing companies’ permission would be needed before manufacturing new rolls that encoded songs they control. As the Supreme Court noted in its opinion, “the question involved in the use of such rolls is one of very considerable importance, involving large property interests, and closely touching the rights of composers and music publishers.” The publishers brought suit.
Cross posted at SPARC for Fair Use Week!
The following guest blog post was written by Tyler Garling, a student who recently took Steph Ceraso’s Remix class. Tyler will be talking about his audio remix project at our Fair Use Week event, The State of the Remix @ UVA, today, Feb. 27, from 9am-Noon at Harrison-Small Auditorium. Below Tyler talks about the ethos of remix—a vision of creativity that is open and collaborative. Fair use exists to enable exactly that kind of ethos, so this is a great way to continue our celebration of Fair Use Week 2018.
From NPR’s Weekend Edition, a nice summary of one of the many dysfunctions in scientific publishing, which is really a dysfunction in science: the lag time and unreliability of peer review. Scientists Aim To Pull Peer Review Out Of The 17th Century
Fair Use Week 2018 Kickoff: Getting Ready for *The State of the Remix @ UVA* by Revisiting the Renaissance
Fair Use Week is here! It’s the special week each year when we take a little time to celebrate the most important part of the Copyright Act (IMHO)—Section 107, the flexible, judge-made doctrine that permits free, unlicensed use of copyright-protected works for valuable cultural purposes.
Software may be eating the world, but something even bigger is eating software: copyright. Specifically, the fear of copyright among the professionals tasked with keeping legacy software alive and useful for future generations. That’s what I and my co-authors conclude in a report released today by the Association of Research Libraries, part of a project funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.
Libraries have been fighting for net neutrality for more than a decade. As usual, we were way ahead of the curve; now fast food chains are getting in on the act! It’s almost enough to make you want to go eat a Whopper. More from AdWeek:
This looks like a really powerful tool that solves a very real problem - how to find quality OER when it’s spread across so many disparate locations? Mason’s page seems like the perfect starting point for any faculty member wondering if they could make the switch to OER for their course, or add value with open content.
A compelling new op-ed in Times Higher Ed, by Björn Breembs and Alex Holcombe:
This Wednesday the Authors Alliance published an extremely useful new document about fair use that I think will be helpful for virtually everyone at UVA who is creating original works of scholarship, research, and criticism: —The Authors Alliance Guide to Fair Use for Nonfiction Authors. The guide follows in the footsteps of a long and distinguished series of fair use best practices’ documents and identifies three core scenarios where fair use will apply to non-fiction writing that uses third-party copyrighted material.
Academic publishers have long had an uneasy relationship with academic social networks (ASNs) like Academia.edu and ResearchGate, which facilitate sharing of journal articles. STM, the association of STEM publishers, developed its own narrow definition of permissible academic sharing as a way to constrain these sites. Then a group of STEM publishers (ACS, Elsevier, Wiley, Brill) signaled its displeasure with ResearchGate by demanding it sign on to the STM principles and develop technical measures to enforce them on its site. When ResearchGate refused, publishers in the group sent takedown notices for articles taken from journals they publish. Most recently, two publishers (ACS and Elsevier) filed a lawsuit against the site in Germany, where ResearchGate is based, alleging widespread copyright infringement.
I’m very excited to share that I’m working with my good friends at the Association of Research Libraries, including ARL’s Krista Cox, and the creators of the fair use best practices method, Peter Jaszi and Pat Aufderheide at American University, on a new project: a code of best practices in fair use for software preservation. With generous funding from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and in close collaboration with the Software Preservation Network, we are learning about the current state of the field, then we’ll be helping the community to deliberate collectively about ways fair use can support its vital work.
A guest post by Ellen Catz Ramsey, UVA’s Director of Scholarly Repository Services.
Way back in March I gave a talk as part of the UVA Medical Center Hour series on the phenomenon of so-called “predatory publishing,” and I used that as a starting point for a much broader conversation about forms of predation in academic publishing.
As of this Monday, May 22, 2017, the Department of Education’s Open Licensing Rule is in effect. The Rule helps ensure broad public access to the products of federal grant-funded education research. Federal investments in this area can yield great benefits to the public, and requiring a plan for public access that includes broad licenses to encourage reuse will help multiply those benefits. SPARC has an excellent overview of the rule, including the full text and links to relevant laws and regulations.
Does Fair Use Affect Academic Authors’ Incentive to Write? Some Lessons from Authors of Works from the GSU Course Reserves Case
This post was co-authored by David Hansen and Brandon Butler and cross posted on The Taper and on Duke University Libraries’ Scholarly Communications Blog.
Imagine if you could download a .ZIP file with every single Copyright Office record, from the beginning of time thru, say, 2014, in a standardized and searchable format, free online. Who owns what, when it was published, whether it was renewed, even (dare to dream) when copyrights were sold or licensed exclusively to others, all in your choice of standard formats. What could people build around that free dataset? What could scholars learn? What deals could get done to revive forgotten works for new audiences?
I ask because the Library of Congress just did the equivalent with its MARC records, the electronic version of cards in a card catalog. The Library released 25 million records, its largest public data release ever, for free bulk download online. For years the Library has diligently created, compiled, updated, and distributed these records to libraries through a subscription service, which it will still offer. (The free bulk download doesn’t include the last 2 years’ worth of data, to preserve some incentive for institutional users to maintain the subscription service, presumably a cost-recovery mechanism that supports creation and maintenance of the data).
This is noteworthy because it is deeply inconsistent with the argument from supporters of HR 1695 that the Copyright Office needs to cut ties from the Library in order to “modernize” its information services.
Check out this little piece I wrote for the HathiTrust, explaining the new non-consumptive use policy that a group of us helped to craft to guide researchers as they seek to make lawful fair use of the millions of in-copyright volumes in the HathiTrust library.
cross-posted at Harvard’s Library Copyright Blog
From Kyle Courtney, Mary Minow, and me, posted at the Library Journal here. Also, I wrote up a little tweetstorm this morning about the last Register’s new job, the revolving door, and the risk of cultural capture.
Today I sent a letter on behalf of 42 copyright lawyers, scholars, and expert librarians to leaders in Congress. In it, we explain the rich relationship between libraries and copyright, and urge Congress to keep the Office where it has lived for more than a century: inside the Library of Congress. We hope this letter will be a useful input as the House Judiciary Committee considers the first part of its copyright reform agenda, announced earlier this week in a one-pager and short YouTube clip focused on the Copyright Office. The Duke University Libraries sent a fantastic letter yesterday, the Library Copyright Alliance (LCA) issued a clear preliminary statement, and I expect there will be more input from the library community as this discussion continues.
Our letter was originally prompted by another letter,
Fellow man! Your whole life, like a sandglass, will always be reversed and will ever run out again, - a long minute of time will elapse until all those conditions out of which you were evolved return in the wheel of the cosmic process. And then you will find every pain and every pleasure, every friend and every enemy, every hope and every error, every blade of grass and every ray of sunshine once more, and the whole fabric of things which make up your life.
Friedrich Nietzsche, Notes on the Eternal Recurrence
In times of great change and tumult, we in library- and copyright-land can take a measure of comfort in at least one eternal recurrence: the Georgia State course reserves case grinding on and on.
Change is in the air in Washington, D.C., and everyone is talking about it. Of course I’m referring to the Copyright Office. The Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal have both run pieces full of wild speculation about sinister forces conspiring with the new Librarian of Congress, Dr. Carla Hayden, to change the guard at the Copyright Office in order to, like, undermine copyright as we know it, man. Libraries let people read books for free, Don Henley told the Post, so firing former Register of Copyrights Maria Pallante must be part of a library-tech conspiracy to suppress the royalty rates YouTube pays to songwriters.
The strangest thing about all this conspiracy theorizing (other than the WSJ calling Pallante a “patent defender”—wrong IP, dudes) is that it starts with the idea that the Librarian’s move is a mystery that can’t be explained by available facts. I don’t have access to any insider info, but I don’t think I need it: former Register Maria Pallante didn’t think she should be working for the Library. The Librarian apparently agreed. The end.
So what’s really going on?
In this guest post, UVA Open Publishing Librarian Dave Ghamandi provides commentary on the state of the federal government’s open access policies, and in particular a response to the Department of Energy’s recent blog post on the “compromises” involved in working with publishers to provide open access to federally-funded scholarship. It’s important to applaud our friends in government when they move in the right direction—and they have certainly done that, as Jerry Sheehan’s recent Open Access Week round-up makes clear. But Dave’s message here is equally important: we must also question dubious compromises and half-measures along the way, before they harden into accepted practice.
Welcome to The Taper, a blog about copyright and related library policy issues as seen from my office at the University of Virginia Library, the spiritual (and, originally, the physical) heart of Thomas Jefferson’s “academical village.” I’m Brandon Butler, the new(-ish) Director of Information Policy for the Library, and I’ll be the blog’s primary author. It will also be my privilege to host guest posts from my colleagues at the Library and beyond, who will appear on these pages in the coming days and weeks to share their thoughts on the policy scene and let you know about all the cool stuff they are doing to foster a better-functioning ecosystem for teaching, learning, and scholarship, on Grounds and beyond. Read on for some thoughts on the blog’s name and our Founder’s founding insight.