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The (unofficial) blog of the BCLA Information Policy Committee
In celebration of Open Access Week 2013, BCLA’s Information Policy Committee is bringing back the IPC salon. Our salons are informal gatherings where interested people come together learn more about important (or just exciting!) issues around information policy. Fun, debate, and discussion are enthusiastically encouraged.
The IPC is very excited to welcome Brian Owen for our first salon; Brian will be speaking about “challenges of funding and sustaining open access initiatives”, with a discussion to follow.
When: Wednesday, October 23rd, 7pm
Where: Heartwood Community Cafe (formerly Rhizome – fully licensed, food available for purchase), 317 E. Broadway, Vancouver, BC
Who: Brian Owen is the Associate University Librarian for Technology Services and Special Collections at the SFU Library. He is also the Managing Director for the Public Knowledge Project (PKP), which, among other things, is responsible for the development and support of Open Journal Systems (OJS), an open source software publishing platform used by thousands of scholarly journals. He is an Associate with SFU’s Canadian Centre for Studies in Publishing and SFU’s Master of Publishing Program. In 2012 he chaired the joint CARL/CRKN Open Access Working Group.
Please join us (and join us in thanking Allison Trumble for the work she’s been putting in as the IPC Salon Coordinator)!
We’ve had a week of responses to the Access Copyright (AC) lawsuit against York University, and predictably they haven’t been very supportive of AC’s decision to defend what the Canadian Federation of Students calls “obsolete licensing agreements” and “archaic models.” Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) President Thomas Hickerson said in CARL’s statement,
Access Copyright’s action seems to question rather clear copyright law and jurisprudence, and feels very much like an attempt to intimidate universities into buying their blanket licence.
But why would AC need to be intimidating institutions into using its services? A big answer to that question comes from the Supreme Court’s 2012 decisions supporting Fair Dealing for education. It was these rulings that undermined AC’s business model by supporting a more open approach to copyright in educational matters. In those rulings, as Howard Knopf pointed out at the time:
- Collectives cannot assume that they will be entitled to an additional “layer” of remunerated rights every time there is a new method of delivery. Technological neutrality matters.
- The Court said what it meant and meant what is said in CCH v. LSUC in 2004 and will move forward from there – not be pushed backwards. Users have rights that must be given a “large and liberal interpretation”. Copyright doesn’t exist solely for collectives.
- Educators are in a “symbiotic” relationship with students and the Copyright Act serves the goal of education, which includes access to essential material. “Instruction and research/private study are, in the school context, tautological.”
There’s much more at that link highlighting the kinds of things that in this lawsuit Access Copyright seems to be pretending the court did not say.
Last summer Michael Geist also took a closer look at what those Supreme Court cases meant:
Led by Justice Abella, the court has reaffirmed that fair dealing is a user’s right that must be interpreted in a broad and liberal manner. In fact, the court provides further guidance on interpreting fair dealing with an emphasis on the need for a flexible, technology-neutral approach. In reading the decisions in the Access Copyright and song previews cases, it is hard to imagine a bigger victory for education, Internet users, and innovative companies.
That victory for Fair Dealing and education in general was last year though, and maybe we’ve seen a huge amount of terrible activity at York University since then to justify lawsuits? Nope. As AC’s statement says, its “legal actions signal to institutions that we continue to strongly disagree with their interpretation of the law.” This is not a case of specific infringement, but a policy disagreement that is leading AC to spend the money it makes from its members litigating educational institutions.
The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) issued a letter to Access Copyright noting that AC’s lawsuit is not in the service of education:
As we have explained, the availability of new contractual models (specifically site licenses directly between content providers and academic institutions), modes of scholarly communication (Open Access publishing), and user rights (the CCH and Alberta decisions and Bill C-11) has had a profound impact on the utility of Access’s services in the post-secondary education sector. It is now clear that Access Copyright’s only plan is to try to hang on to the past. This serves no one well.
And that’s really the problem with this whole thing. Suing people/educational institutions to protect a business model is not a way to help students and scholars. In CARL’s statement Brent Roe said,
[Fair dealing] unlocks knowledge for generations of students, who are the future of innovative research. Education as fair dealing must be protected against predatory lawsuits.
That is a position that we totally support.
CIHR, the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, has been a national (and, in some regards, international) leader in the development and promotion of open access (OA) to research outputs, including peer-reviewed articles. However, the future of CIHR’s leadership in the area of public access to publicly-funded research is in question. After forging new ground with a research access policy requiring OA within 6 months of publication of research results, the CIHR had a strange kerfuffle in 2011 in which they rolled out and then rolled back an open data policy (see this and subsequent blog posts for more info).
In this week’s CIHR funding news, they have renamed the “Policy on Access to Research Outputs” the “Open Access Policy” and extended the embargo period from 6 months to the NIH-standard 12 months. While I understand that the NIH, being the largest biomedical research funder in the world, effectively set the industry standard at 12 months with their own policy (rolled out after the CIHR policy), the CIHR requiring 6 months gave researchers a leg to stand on when negotiating a shorter embargo period with publishers. While standard journal publishing contracts in biomedicine allow public archiving after 1 year, the argument that a contract must be modified because “my federal funder requires this after 6 months” was rarely denied (<–statement based on anecdata, but I do not know of any higher form of evidence regarding this question; if you do let me know).
Not only has CIHR removed this leverage to provide more timely public access to Canadian researchers’ outputs, they have failed to couple it with the strength of the NIH policy — a requirement for immediate deposit (with optional delayed public access) in PubMed Central. Without this requirement for immediate (upon acceptance for publication) deposit, few researchers will remember to go back and deposit their article draft a year later when the OA requirement goes into effect. There is still no known process for auditing compliance with this policy, nearly 5 years after it originally went into effect.
This is another disappointing development from a tri-council funder that used to be a clear leader in OA. If anyone has any further information on the process of revising this policy, I’d love to hear about it.
(Disclosure: I and many of my colleagues are and have previously been funded by CIHR. I am currently a CIHR Vanier Scholar.)
Actual CIHR “Funding news” snippet follows:
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3) Application and Funding Policies
a) Update to the CIHR Open Access Policy
Starting January 2013, CIHR-funded researchers will be required to make their peer-reviewed publications freely accessible within 12 months of publication – at the latest. Amendments to the CIHR Open Access Policy, formerly known as the Policy on Access to Research Outputs, modify current requirements to provide the public with freely accessible research articles while aligning with other major funding agencies, such as the US National Institutes of Health. Researchers can comply with the green open access policy by depositing the articles in an archive, such as PubMed Central Canada or an institutional repository, and/or by publishing results in an open access journal.
While the CIHR Open Access Policy provides researchers with clear guidance on CIHR’s minimum expectation, in the spirit of public benefits of research, CIHR continues to encourage researchers to make their publications accessible for free as soon as possible after publication. Compliance with the policy will continue to be monitored through end of grant reporting.
The revised Open Access Policy is available online:
For further information, please contact email@example.com.