Creative Commons Web Site Makeover and CC Labs

The Creative Commons has redone its Web site using WordPress and added a new feature: CC Labs, which features development projects.

Current projects include the DHTML License Chooser, the Freedoms License Generator, and the Metadata Lab. (Consulting the Creative Commons Licenses page before using these tools will give you a preview of your license options.)

The symbols used to represent the CC licenses have changed. For example, here’s the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 License symbol.

Creative Commons License

Read more about these changes in Lawrence Lessig’s blog posting.

Rice University Press Publishes Its First Open Access Digital Document

The recently re-established Rice University Press, which was reborn as a digital press, has published its first e-report: Art History and Its Publications in the Electronic Age by Hilary Ballon (Professor and Director of Art Humanities at the Columbia University Department of Art History and Archaeology) and Mariet Westermann (Director and Professor at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University).

The introduction notes:

Just as we were finishing our report, Rice University Press announced that it would re-launch itself as a fully electronic press with a special commitment to art history. We were delighted to find Rice willing to partner with the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) to publish our report electronically, with the kinds of hyper-linking, response capability, and print-on-demand options we consider vital to the success of scholarly publication on line. At Rice University Press, Chuck Henry, Chuck Bearden, and Kathi Fletcher generously steered us through the technological and legal process. We received enthusiastic support at CLIR from Susan Perry, Michael Ann Holly, Kathlin Smith, and Ann Okerson.

Like all digital works to be published by the press, this one is under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 license. At this time, it does not appear that a print-on-demand version of the work is available from Rice University Press.

It’s Time to Support the Creative Commons

The Creative Commons has launched it’s 2006 fund raising campaign, and I’d urge my readers to support it as generously as they can.

Why? The reason is simple: it’s easier to restore balance in copyright by convincing content creators to embrace Creative Commons licenses than it is to influence copyright legislation that rolls back lengthy copyright protection periods that are in danger of becoming virtually perpetual, that constricts the ever-widening scope of copyright, and that permits realistic fair use of DRM-protected digital materials. Moreover, the Creative Commons fosters what Lawrence Lessig calls a "read-write" digital culture that permits digital material to be freely used and remixed vs. a read-only-maybe digital culture where digital materials are often hidden behind access barriers and cannot be remixed without permission, which may be impossible to obtain. If you doubt that this can work, consider this quote from the Creative Commons: "From January 2006 to July 2006 there was a growth from 40,000,000 to 140,000,000 linkbacks to our licenses!"

So, donate. At the $75 level or above you’ll get a t-shirt as well as the button and sticker that are available at lower donation levels. Or, don’t donate, but help out by buying Creative Commons gear at their store.

Open Access to Books: The Case of the Open Access Bibliography

In March 2005, the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) published my book the Open Access Bibliography: Liberating Scholarly Literature with E-Prints and Open Access Journals under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 License. At the same time, a PDF version of the book was made freely available at the University of Houston Libraries Web site, and a PDF of the frontmatter, "Preface," and "Key Open Access Concepts" sections of the book was made freely available at the ARL Web site. The complete OAB PDF was moved to my new escholarlypub.com Web site in June, and an HTML version of "Key Open Access Concepts" was made available as well. In February 2006, author and title indexes for the OAB were made available in HTML form, and, in March 2006, the entire OAB was made available in HTML form.

The OAB deals with a topic that is of keen interest to a relatively small segment of the reading public. Moreover, it’s primarily a very detailed bibliography. The question is: Was it worth putting up all of these free digital versions of the book and creating these auxiliary digital materials?

From March through May 2005, there were 29,255 requests for the OAB PDF. From June 2005 through June 2006, there were another 15,272 requests for the OAB PDF; 17,952 requests for chapters or sections of the HTML version of the OAB; 11,610 requests for the HTML version of "Key Open Access Concepts"; 3,183 requests for the author index; and 2,918 requests for the title index. I don’t have use statistics for the ARL PDF of the first few sections of the book. (The June 2005 through June 2006 statistics are from Urchin; when I analyze the log files in analog, they may vary slightly.)

Print runs for scholarly books are notoriously short, often in the hundreds. I suspect most scholarly publishers would be delighted to sell 500 copies of a specialized bibliography, many of which would end up on library shelves. However, by making the Open Access Bibliography: Liberating Scholarly Literature with E-Prints and Open Access Journals freely available in digital form, over 44,500 copies of the complete book, over 29,500 chapters (or other book sections), and over 6,100 author or title indexes have been distributed to users worldwide. Thanks to ARL, the OAB has had greater visibility and impact than it would have had under the conventional publishing model.

More on How Can Scholars Retain Copyright Rights?

Peter Suber has made the following comment on Open Access News about "How Can Scholars Retain Copyright Rights?":

This is a good introduction to the options. I’d only make two additions.

  1. Authors needn’t retain full copyright in order to provide OA to their own work. They only need to retain the right of OA archiving—which, BTW, about 70% of journals already give to authors in the copyright transfer agreement.
  2. Charles mentions the author addenda from SPARC and Science Commons, but there’s also one from MIT.

Peter is right on both points; however, my document has a broader rights retention focus than providing OA to scholars’ work, although that is an important aspect of it.

For example, there is a difference between simply making an article available on the Internet and making it available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 License. The former allows the user to freely read, download, and print the article for personal use. The latter allows user to make any noncommercial use of the article without permission as long as proper attribution is made, including creating derivative works. So professor X could print professor Y’s article and distribute in class without permission and without worrying about fair use considerations. (Peter, of course, understands these distinctions, and he is just trying to make sure that authors understand that they don’t have to do anything but sign agreements that grant them appropriate self-archiving rights in order to provide OA access to their articles.)

I considered the MIT addenda, but thought it might be too institution-specific. On closer reading, it could be used without alteration.

How Can Scholars Retain Copyright Rights?

Scholars are often exhorted to retain the copyright rights to their journal articles to ensure that they can freely use their own work and to permit others to freely read and use it as well. The question for scholars who are convinced to do so is: "How do I do that?"

The first thing to understand is that copyright is not one right. Rather, it is a bundle of rights that can be individually granted or withheld. The second thing to understand is that rights can either be granted exclusively to one party or nonexclusively to multiple parties.

What are these rights? Here’s what the U.S. Copyright Office says:

  • To reproduce the work in copies or phonorecords;

  • To prepare derivative works based upon the work;

  • To distribute copies or phonorecords of the work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending;

  • To perform the work publicly, in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures and other audiovisual works;

  • To display the copyrighted work publicly, in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, including the individual
    images of a motion picture or other audiovisual work; and

  • In the case of sound recordings, to perform the work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission.

A legal document, typically called a copyright transfer agreement, governs the copyright arrangements between you and the publisher and determines what rights you retain and what rights you transfer or grant to the publisher. The publisher may offer a single standard agreement or may have more than one agreement.

Whereas the publisher has had its agreement(s) written by copyright lawyers, you are not likely to be a copyright lawyer. This puts you at a disadvantage in terms or understanding, modifying, or replacing the publisher’s agreement. Therefore, it is very helpful to have documents written by copyright lawyers that you can use to modify or replace the publisher’s agreement with, even if the organization providing such documents does so under a disclaimer that it is not providing "legal advice."

Ordered by increasing level of difficulty in getting publisher acceptance, here are the basic strategies for dealing with copyright transfer agreements:

  • If the publisher has multiple agreements, choose the one that has the author assigning and/or granting specific rights to the publisher (e.g., ALA Copyright License Agreement). Don’t choose the agreement where the author assigns, conveys, grants, or transfers all rights, copyright interest, copyright ownership, and/or title exclusively to the publisher (e.g., ALA Copyright Assignment Agreement).
  • If the publisher has a single agreement that assigns, conveys, grants, or transfers all rights, copyright interest, copyright ownership, and/or title exclusively to the publisher:

Of course, other strategies are possible. For example, you could use another type of open content license instead of the Science Commons Publication Agreement and Copyright License. However, you might want to keep it simple to start.

For more information on copyright transfer agreements, see Copyright Resources for Authors and Scholars Have Lost Control of the Process.

For a directory of publisher copyright and self-archiving policies, see Publisher Copyright Policies & Self-Archiving.

By the way, DigitalKoans doesn’t provide legal advice and the author is not a lawyer.

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