"We have learned that many publishers are requiring UC authors to sign misleading License to Publish agreements, which undermine the spirit and intent of [UC’s open access policies]," wrote Susan Cochran, Chair of the faculty Academic Senate PDF.
By purporting to restrict an author’s abilities to reuse their own work, "these agreements essentially turn faculty authors into readers, as opposed to creators and owners of their own work," the Academic Senate chair concludes.
The team that leads negotiations with scholarly publishers on behalf of the university, including representatives from UC’s California Digital Library, the 10 campus libraries, and the Academic Senate, is now taking up the charge, making author rights the next frontier in advocating for the UC research community.
Version 4.0 of the CC licenses, first published in 2013, introduced several important updates and improvements. Some of the key benefits of this upgrade include greater internationalization, more practical attribution requirements, a grace period for correcting reuse errors, improved clarity and simplicity, and better handling of rights outside copyright, such as database rights. These changes make it an ideal fit for Wikimedia’s mission of simple, globally accessible reuse in a wide variety of contexts.
This report investigates the current landscape of non-legislative policy practices affecting researchers and authors in the authors’ rights and licensing domain. It is an outcome of research conducted by Project Retain led by SPARC Europe, as part of the Knowledge Rights 21 programme. The report concludes with a set of recommendations for institutional policymakers, funders and legislators, and publishers. It is accompanied by the study dataset.
At the turn of 2022 and 2023, we conducted a series of interviews with leading voices in the open movement. We spoke with professional activists who address openness from varied perspectives and work in different fields of open. Some have been engaged in activism for decades, while others are looking at it with a fresh set of eyes. Many of our interviewees lead organizations advancing openness, and we were particularly interested in talking with those who have been exploring new approaches and strategies.
Our research aims to understand the current state of the open movement, as seen through the eyes of people actively involved in its endeavors and leading organizations within the movement. We want to make sense of shared positions and understand whether there are any clear division lines. We are particularly interested in identifying trends that transform the movement and understanding the challenges and needs of activists and organizations as these changes occur. The report signals a shift to what can be best described as a post-copyright approach to openness. However, while our focus is on how the movement is changing, this does not mean that the whole movement is subject to that shift. There still exists a need for copyright advocacy work in the movement, and many organizations maintain the course developed at the outset. Nonetheless, we hope that they, too, will find this report’s insights worth examining.
Let’s take a close look at what SN says in its advice on this matter to authors:
"Springer Nature only ever assesses manuscripts on their editorial merit. If primary research manuscripts contain Rights Retention Strategy (RRS) language, they will not be rejected on the grounds of its inclusion, and we will not remove that text before publication if it is included in a section that is a normal part of the published primary research article."
The information gets off to a good start. Assessing manuscripts on editorial merit alone is something any author would want to be reassured about. Equally, authors will be pleased to learn that, even if they include rights retention language, SN will not amend the author’s text by removing the RR statement that the author included in the text they created and provided at no charge to SN for publication. So far, so good. The information continues:
"Authors should note, however, that manuscripts containing statements about open licensing of accepted manuscripts (AMs) can only be published via the immediate gold open access (OA) route, to ensure that authors are not making conflicting licensing commitments, and can comply with any funder or institutional requirements for immediate OA."
This is where things start to get tricksy. Translation &mdash: if the author assigns a prior licence to their AAM and submits the manuscript to a SN subscription journal that also offers an Open Access (OA) option (sometimes known as a hybrid journal), then the publisher will only accept it if the author pays for OA publication (sometimes known as ‘gold’ OA). Mind you, SN is not rejecting the manuscript outright; it’s just that they will ONLY accept it if the author pays. So by extension, if they don’t pay, SN won’t publish the paper, which amounts to a rejection. However hard I try, I can’t seem to tally "only be published via the immediate gold open access (OA) route" with "only accepting manuscripts on their editorial merit." The wording is slippery here. Like those politicians, SN doesn’t ACTUALLY state that if you don’t, won’t or can’t pay, they will reject your paper. But in practice, that is exactly what they imply. This is pure smoke and mirrors.
With the continued push towards open access (OA) and the complicated nature of copyright law, users are often left wondering what they can do with the scholarly articles they find. Creative Commons (CC) licenses are the predominant mechanism for communicating usage rights; however, finding the CC license information — or being confident that there is not any — can be a challenge. Today we report on a project to investigate how publisher platforms represent CC licenses for OA and non-OA journal articles. We looked at how publishing platforms indicate usage rights for articles in results displays as well as in full-text formats.
"Anyone can download, reuse, and remix these images at any time — for free under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license," write My Modern Met’s Jessica Stewart and Madeleine Muzdakis. "A dive into the 3D records shows everything from CAD models of the Apollo 11 command module to Horatio Greenough’s 1840 sculpture of George Washington."
Consortia and publishers invest a lot of time and expertise in the negotiation process. A well-drafted read and publish contract is, however, not enough to guarantee an optimal open access publishing service. The Dutch UKB consortium uses several tools and practices to actively monitor and manage open access uptake during an agreement. Library help desks are provided with a knowledge base covering most frequently asked questions from authors. A journal list gives an integral overview of the more than 11,000 journals that are part of 16 consortium deals. Because researchers wanted to know about open access publishing possibilities from a journal perspective, a journal browser was developed. Workflow improvement and retrospective open access are regular topics in mid-term meetings with publishers, resulting in increased open access uptake. A purpose-built datahub provides the consortium and libraries with publication data that helps monitoring and managing output on both article and deal level. Finally, licence choice including funder compliance is taken into account, resulting in an increasing percentage of CC BY versus the more restricted CC BY-NC and CC BY-NC-ND options.
I find that 36% of DMPs mention creative commons and among those a number of different approaches towards licencing exist (overall policy per project, licencing decisions per dataset, licencing decisions per partner, licensing decision per data format, licensing decision per perceived stakeholder interest), often clad in rather vague language with CC licences being “recommended” or “suggested”.
"This white paper presents the case of using openly licensed photographs for AI facial recognition training datasets. . . . The case creates an opportunity to ask fundamental questions about the challenges that open licensing faces today, related to privacy, exploitation of the commons at massive scales of use, or dealing with unexpected and unintended uses of works that are openly licensed"