What happens when books enter the public domain? Testing copyright’s underuse hypothesis across Australia, New Zealand, the United States and Canada by Rebecca Giblin :: SSRN

Abstract:  The United States (‘US’) extended most copyright terms by 20 years in 1998, and has since exported that extension via ‘free trade’ agreements to countries including Australia and Canada. A key justification for the longer term was the claim that exclusive rights are necessary to encourage publishers to invest in making older works available — and that, unless such rights were granted, they would go underused. This study empirically tests this ‘underuse hypothesis’ by investigating the relative availability of ebooks to public libraries across Australia, New Zealand, the US and Canada. We find that books are actually less available where they are under copyright than where they are in the public domain, and that commercial publishers seem undeterred from investing in works even where others are competing to supply the same titles. We also find that exclusive rights do not appear to trigger investment in works that have low commercial demand, with books from 59% of the ‘culturally valuable’ authors we sampled unavailable in any jurisdiction, regardless of copyright status. This provides new evidence of how even the shortest copyright terms can outlast works’ commercial value, even where cultural value remains. Further, we find that works are priced much higher where they are under copyright than where they in the public domain, and these differences typically far exceed what would be paid to authors or their heirs. Thus, one effect of extending copyrights from life + 50 to life + 70 is that libraries are obliged to pay higher prices in exchange for worse access.

This is the first published study to test the underuse hypothesis outside the US, and the first to analyse comparative availability of identical works across jurisdictions where their copyright status differs. It adds to the evidence that the underuse hypothesis is not borne out by real world practice. Nonetheless, countries are still being obliged to enact extended terms as a cost of trade access. We argue that such nations should explore alternative ways of dividing up those rights to better achieve copyright’s fundamental aims of rewarding authors and promoting widespread access to knowledge and culture.

Exploring factors impacting student engagement in open access courses: Open Learning: The Journal of Open, Distance and e-Learning: Vol 34, No 2

Abstract:  Studies on student engagement in learning have mainly focused on undergraduate degree courses. Limited attempts have been made to examine student engagement on open access enabling courses, which is targeted to underrepresented students in higher education. Students on open access enabling courses are at high risk due to a low academic achievement in high school, the gap between schooling, work and post-secondary education, and different kinds of personal and academic barriers. This paper reports on a pilot quantitative study using a survey method undertaken at an Australian university. The study examined a range of issues related to student engagement, including learning barriers, engagement and experience in learning, skills attained, motivation to complete study, career pathway, and key reasons for selecting a particular pathway. The study found that online students are less engaged in learning and, therefore, efforts need to be made to improve their sense of belonging to the university. The findings of the study are critical due to high attrition on open access enabling courses and it argues the need to improve the engagement, retention, and success of students on such courses.

Developing a strategic approach to open scholarship in Australia: Joint CAUL-AOASG Election Statement – Australasian Open Access Strategy Group

In its 2018 inquiry into the Australian Government Funding Arrangements for non-NHMRC Research, the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Employment, Education and Training recommended “that the Australian Government develop a more strategic approach to Australia’s open scholarship environment”. CAUL and AOASG supported this recommendation[4].

It is now time to implement that approach through the establishment of a cross-sectoral body charged with developing and implementing, within three years, a national action plan for open scholarship – a plan that would include recommendations on changes to the policy and funding framework for Australian higher education. Open scholarship should also be included in the terms of reference for any post-election reviews or inquiries on Australian higher education and research.

Achieving fair and open access to Australian research outputs would be a realistic and significant accomplishment for a new or re-appointed Minister after the election, and a priority for government. CAUL and the AOASG are ready to offer their experience, expertise and knowledge to the goal of open scholarship….”

Repository requirements a deal-breaker for Plan S Down Under | Times Higher Education (THE)

Research funding agencies in Australia and New Zealand will not be able to support Europe’s Plan S unless rules around repositories are watered down, according to open access advocates in both countries.

A joint submission says that repository provisions in the Plan S implementation strategy are overly prescriptive and would be cripplingly expensive – and in some cases technically impossible – to implement….”

Australian funders urged to join Plan S open access drive | Times Higher Education (THE)

:Australian and New Zealand research funders are under growing pressure to join Plan S, the European-led push to require academics to make publicly funded research freely accessible at the point of publication.

The initiative is due to be implemented at the start of next year by the 13 European national research funders that have backed it so far, alongside the European Commission and three charitable funders, including the Wellcome Trust and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

However, the project’s backers acknowledge that, to achieve the “big flip” towards open access, they need to build a global coalition, and efforts have been made to persuade North American, Asian and African funders to sign up….”

Scholarly Communication Practices in Humanities and Social Sciences: A Study of Researchers’ Attitudes and Awareness of Open Access : Open Information Science

Abstract:  This paper examines issues relating to the perceptions and adoption of open access (OA) and institutional repositories. Using a survey research design, we collected data from academics and other researchers in the humanities, arts and social sciences (HASS) at a university in Australia. We looked at factors influencing choice of publishers and journal outlets, as well as the use of social media and nontraditional channels for scholarly communication. We used an online questionnaire to collect data and used descriptive statistics to analyse the data. Our findings suggest that researchers are highly influenced by traditional measures of quality, such as journal impact factor, and are less concerned with making their work more findable and promoting it through social media. This highlights a disconnect between researchers’ desired outcomes and the efforts that they put in toward the same. Our findings also suggest that institutional policies have the potential to increase OA awareness and adoption. This study contributes to the growing literature on scholarly communication by offering evidence from the HASS field, where limited studies have been conducted. Based on the findings, we recommend that academic librarians engage with faculty through outreach and workshops to change perceptions of OA and the institutional repository. 

A Very Long Embargo: Journal Choice Reveals Active Non-Compliance with Funder Open Access Policies by Australian and Canadian Neuroscientists

Abstract:  Research funders around the world have implemented open access policies that require funded research to be made open access, usually by self-archiving, within 12 months of publication. Elsevier is unique among major science publishers because it produces several journals with non-compliant self-archiving embargoes of more than 12 months. We used Elsevier’s Scopus database to study the rate at which Australian and Canadian neuroscientists publish in Elsevier’s non-compliant (embargoes > 12 months) and compliant journals (embargoes ? 12 months). We also examined publications in immediate open access neuroscience journals that had the DOAJ Seal and neuroscience publications in open access mega-journals. We found that the implementation of Australian and Canadian funder open access policies in 2012/2013 and 2015 did not reduce the number of publications in non-compliant journals. Instead, scientific output in all publication types increased with the greatest growth in immediate open access journals. This data suggests that funder open access policies that are similar to the Australian and Canadian policies are likely to have little effect beyond an association with a general cultural trend towards open access.

“Free is not fair” won’t make authors richer, but fixing publishers’ contracts will / Boing Boing

“Australia is about to radically expand its copyright and the publishing industry has forged an unholy alliance with authors’ groups to rail against fair use being formalised in Australia, rallying under the banner of “Free is not fair.”

Rebecca Giblin (previously), one of Australia’s leading copyright scholars and the founder of a project to examine the way that authors’ interests diverge from their publishers’ interests.

She points out that giving Australian authors more copyright won’t do them any good if the highly concentrated publishing industry simply demands that all that copyright be transferred to corporate balance sheets as part of their standard contracts. It’s like giving your bullied kid extra lunch money: the bullies will simply mug them for the extra money you’ve handed over….”

APO | Analysis and Policy Observatory

“Analysis & Policy Observatory (APO) is an award-winning, open access knowledge hub and information service providing easy access to policy and practice research and resources. 

APO makes policy research visible, discoverable and usable. 

Established in 2002 at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, APO is a not-for-profit collaborative knowledge infrastructure and web platform working with partners from universities and organisations across Australia, New Zealand and beyond.”