After one year, largest initiative to promote the use of open educational resources for degree completion finds robust course development, strong faculty support, and broad-based leadership for OER use. | Achieving the Dream

“Preliminary results from a national effort to expand community college degree programs that use open educational resources (OER) nationwide found high levels of faculty interest and engagement in OER. OER are freely available learning materials that users can download, edit and share.

The study, Launching OER Degree Pathways: An Early Snapshot of Achieving the Dream’s OER Degree Initiative and Emerging Lessons, was released today by Achieving the Dream (ATD). Conducted by SRI International and the rpk GROUP, the report indicates that faculty at colleges participating in ATD’s OER Degree Initiative are changing their teaching and that students are at least as or more engaged using OER courses than students in non-OER classrooms.”

Danes step away from patenting in favour of ‘open science’

Denmark’s top-ranked higher education institution is to shift away from patenting research conducted in partnership with the private sector to pursue an open science model.

Aarhus University’s new initiative, called Open Science, does not allow either the university or the companies involved to patent any discoveries made during the research process and, at the end, the results are disclosed to everyone – even other firms – in what it calls a “patent-free playground”.

Crowd Research: Open and Scalable University Laboratories

“Research experiences today are limited to a privileged few at select universities. Providing open access to research experiences would enable global upward mobility and increased diversity in the scientific workforce. How can we coordinate a crowd of diverse volunteers on open-ended research? How could a PI have enough visibility into each person’s contributions to recommend them for further study? We present Crowd Research, a crowdsourcing technique that coordinates open-ended research through an iterative cycle of open contribution, synchronous collaboration, and peer assessment. To aid upward mobility and recognize contributions in publications, we introduce a decentralized credit system: participants allocate credits to each other, which a graph centrality algorithm translates into a collectively-created author order. Over 1,500 people from 62 countries have participated, 74% from institutions with low access to research. Over two years and three projects, this crowd has produced articles at top-tier Computer Science venues, and participants have gone on to leading graduate programs.”

Copyright and the Harvard Open Access Mandate by Eric Priest :: SSRN

Abstract:  Open access proponents argue that scholars are far more likely to make their articles freely available online if they are required to do so by their university or funding institution. Therefore, if the open access movement is to achieve anything close to its goal of seeing all scholarly articles freely available online, mandates will likely play a significant role. In 2008, the Harvard University Faculty of Arts and Sciences adopted a policy that purports not only to require scholars to deposit their works in open access repositories, but also to grant the university nonexclusive copyright licenses to archive and publicly distribute all faculty-produced scholarly articles. A number of other American universities have since adopted similar policies. The principal aim of this Article is to analyze the legal effect of these Harvard-style open access “permission” mandates.


By invoking copyright law terminology in permission mandates, schools might intend that they have the legal effect of transferring nonexclusive rights to the school, thereby clarifying and fortifying the school’s rights to reproduce and publicly disseminate faculty works. However, the legal effect of these mandates is uncertain for several reasons. First, it is unsettled whether scholars or their university employers are the authors and initial owners of scholarly articles under U.S. copyright law’s work-made-for-hire rules, which vest authorship and copyright ownership in the employer for works created by employees within the scope of employment. Second, the mandates are broad university policies that purport to grant the university nonexclusive copyright licenses in every scholarly article unless a faculty member affirmatively opts out on a per-article basis. Are the policies specific enough to provide the essential terms of the grant? Furthermore, can the mere adoption of a school policy, without some additional affirmative act by the author, effectuate such a grant without unduly encroaching upon the author’s autonomy interests? Lastly, even if the policies effectuate nonexclusive license grants, will the licenses survive after the author transfers copyright ownership to a journal publisher as per common practice? Section 205(e) of the Copyright Act provides that a prior nonexclusive license evidenced in a writing signed by the right holder prevails over a subsequent conflicting transfer of copyright ownership, so the answer appears to turn on whether permission mandates satisfy the requirements of § 205(e).


This Article argues that permission mandates can create legally enforceable, durable nonexclusive licenses. First, it argues that although there are important justifications, including academic freedom concerns, for recognizing the controversial “teacher exception” to the work for hire rules for scholarly articles, such an exception may be unnecessary because a strong argument also exists that much scholarship is produced outside the scope of employment for work for hire purposes. Second, it argues that permission mandates provide sufficient evidence of the grantor’s intent and the rights granted to create effective nonexclusive licenses. Third, permission mandates satisfy the requirements of § 205(e) and establish the license’s priority over the subsequent transfer of copyright ownership largely because they fulfill the underlying purposes of § 205(e) by providing sufficient evidence and notice of the license to potential copyright transferees (typically academic publishers). In reaching these conclusions, this Article emphasizes that Courts should consider the uniformity costs (social costs resulting from applying uniform rules and granting uniform entitlements across diverse conditions) that arise from applying to scholarly articles copyright rules developed to address proprietary models of information production. Applying the relevant copyright rules in a manner sensitive to the nonmarket nature of scholarly production is the most effective way to reduce these social costs, and reinforces the conclusion that mandate licenses are enforceable.


Lastly, the Article considers whether the opt-out nature of permission mandates offends notions of authorial autonomy in copyright. It compares permission mandates with another high profile opt-out licensing regime: the proposed Google Books settlement agreement, which the court rejected partly because of authorial autonomy concerns. Authorial autonomy is far less of a concern for scholarly articles than for the books at issue in the Google Books case, however, due to the nonmarket nature of scholarly article production coupled with academic community norms. Accordingly, it does not substantially interfere with authors’ autonomy interests to find that the opt-out structure of permission mandates creates valid nonexclusive licenses in universities.

Open Access Strategy for a ‘New’ University Press: A View through the Stakeholder Lens | Journal of Scholarly Publishing

“Enabled by technology, brought into being in response to a crisis in scholarly communication, and increasingly driven by governmental regulations, mandates of funding bodies, and universities’ policies, open access (OA) is one of the fundamental issues that need to be considered as part of a publishing strategy and business model at a new university press. By considering the attitudes toward OA among the stakeholders of Australian university presses, I propose that a university press should take a hybrid approach to the OA publishing model to ensure diversified funding and income streams, editorial independence, and sustainability. At the same time, the press needs to maintain rigorous peer review, high-quality editing and production, and effective marketing while developing a focused publishing program in areas that are distinctive to the press and strategically aligned with the goals of its parent university.”


The UK Scholarly Communications Licence – supporting academics with open access | Zenodo

“To address these issues, a group of research organisations in the UK is working to implement a solution that ensures authors can make their work open access, meet funder requirements and always retain the right to reuse their own outputs – but without having to change the publishing process as it currently exists. The initiative is called the UK Scholarly Communications Licence (UK-SCL) and was started by Chris Banks and Torsten Reimer at Imperial College London. At the heart of the UK-SCL is a licence agreement between a research organisation and their staff: authors grant the organisation a non-exclusive licence to make the manuscript of a scholarly article publicly available under a Creative Commons licence that allows non-commercial reuse (CC BY NC). This arrangement pre-dates any contract authors might sign with a publisher, which allows the host organisation to license the rights back to the author after they signed the copyright transfer agreement. This process ensures that academics can retain rights and do not have to negotiate with the publisher. To be legally binding, publishers must be notified – but this is something research institutions working with sector bodies will undertake jointly, so that authors have no additional work….”

Academic Council Affirms Commitment to Open Access Efforts like OA2020

By letter to University of California President Janet Napolitano, the Academic Council has enthusiastically endorsed and affirmed university-wide commitments to make UC research and scholarship as freely and openly available as possible.

The letter of the Academic Council, which advises the UC President on behalf of the Assembly, updates President Napolitano on various campus efforts to fulfill the University’s mission of providing long-term societal benefits through transmitting advanced knowledge. As the Council notes, one way that the University has been working to achieve its mission is through implementation of the 2013 Open Access policy, pursuant to which UC scholars widely disseminate their scholarship by making copies available open access (OA). OA promotes free, immediate access to research articles and the rights to use these articles to advance knowledge worldwide.

Major German Universities Cancel Elsevier Contracts | The Scientist Magazine

“In Germany, the fight for open access and favorable pricing for journals is getting heated. At the end of last month (June 30), four major academic institutions in Berlin announced that they would not renew their subscriptions with the Dutch publishing giant Elsevier once they end this December. Then on July 7, nine universities in Baden-Württemberg, another large German state, also declared their intention to cancel their contracts with the publisher at the end of 2017.

These institutions join around 60 others across the country that allowed their contracts to expire last year.

The decision to cancel subscriptions was made in order to put pressure on Elsevier during ongoing negotiations. “Nobody wants Elsevier to starve—they should be paid fairly for their good service,” says Ursula Flitner, the head of the medical library at Charité–Berlin University of Medicine. “The problem is, we no longer see what their good service is.”

Charité–Berlin University of Medicine is joined by Humboldt University of Berlin, Free University of Berlin, and Technical University of Berlin in letting its Elsevier subscriptions lapse….”

44% of VU and VUmc scientific output is published Open Access in 2016 – [jul-sep] – University Library, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

“44% of all peer-reviewed publications of the VU and the VUmc are published Open Access.

This includes all articles, letters, reviews and books that are available immediately and permanently free for everyone to read and download on the website of the publisher. The policy of the Dutch universities is starting to pay off. During the past two years, universities have made agreements with publishers including Springer, Taylor & Francis and Elsevier about funding Open Access publishing.”