“Talk given to the Radical Open Access 2 Conference in Coventry, 27 June 2018 as part of a panel on the commons and care. The talk was published as part of a pamphlet alongside pieces by Joe Deville and Tahani Nadim: https://hcommons.org/deposits/item/hc:19817/
The commons’ is a term routinely employed by advocates of open access publishing to describe the ideal scholarly publishing ecosystem, one comprised entirely of freely available journal articles, books, data and code. Usually undefined, advocates invoke the commons as a good-in-itself, governed by the scholarly community and publicly accessible to all. The term itself is not associated with an identifiable politico-economic ideology, nor does it entail any particular form of organisation or practice. Without further justification, the term ‘commons’ has little meaning beyond referring to the various degrees of community control and/or accessibility associated with certain resources. This paper will illustrate some of the uses (and abuses) of the commons in scholarly publishing, aiming to highlight both the ambiguity of the term and some of the drawbacks of treating the commons as fixed and static entity focused on the production and management of shared resources, as many do. While it certainly relates to resources and their governance, I want to reposition the commons – or ‘commoning’ specifically – as a practice of cultivating and caring for the relationships that exist around the production of shared resources. In reorienting the commons in this way, I will show how an attitude of commoning extends beyond the commons site itself and into the relationships present in other forms of organisation also. This allows us to reposition the commons towards a shared, emancipatory horizon while maintaining the need for a plurality of commons-based practices in publishing and beyond. A progressive and emancipatory commons, I argue, is therefore a space of ‘care-full commoning’….”
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“The three great potentials of open access are a) the de-monopolisation of publishing, b) the de-commodification of academia so that knowledge and not profit are the primary aspect of academic publishing, and c) overcoming the knowledge divide that excludes poor regions and universities from access. But for achieving these aims, we need the right kind of open access models that I call diamond open access. It cannot be denied that there is a significant amount of fake open access that puts profit over knowledge. Publishing is one of the most highly concentrated and monopolised capitalist industries. Elsevier, Springer & Co. are destroying independent academic publishers just like Amazon is destroying your local bookshop. Academia and knowledge ought to be a public service and common good. We do not need green and gold open access, but something much better and precious, namely diamond open access….”
“David Lewis recently proposed (see https://scholarworks.iupui.edu/handle/1805/14063 ) that libraries devote 2.5% of their total budget to support the common infrastructure needed to create the open scholarly commons….
In the early stages of exploring this idea, we want to come to some agreement about what would count as such an investment, and then build a registry that would allow libraries to record their investments in this area, track their investments over time, and compare their investments with like institutions. The registry would also serve as a guide for those looking for ideas for how to make the best investments for their institution, providing a listing of all ‘approved’ ways to invest in open, and as a place for those seeking investment to be discovered. As a first step towards building such a thing, we are crowdsourcing the creation of the inventory of ways to invest. Below you’ll find, organized by Lewis’ categories, a wide range of investments that many of us already make….”
“Welcome! This is the modest home page for our immodest effort to reclaim the system of scholarly communication by encouraging investment in open technologies and open content, and through collective action, create the infrastructure, policies, and practices needed to effect this change….”
“David Lewis has recently proposed that libraries devote 2.5% of its total budget to support the common infrastructure needed to create the open scholarly commons….In the early stages of exploring this idea, we want to come to some level agreement about what would in fact count as such an investment, and then build a registry that would allow libraries to record their investments in this area, track their investments over time, and compare their investments with like institutions. The registry would also serve as a guide for those looking for ideas for how to make the best investments for their institution, providing a listing of all ‘approved’ ways to invest in open, and as a place for those seeking investment to be discovered. As a first step towards building such a thing, we are crowdsourcing the creation of the inventory of ways to invest….”
“In most discussions of the digital divide, the emphasis is on assisting developing nations by facilitating the flow of information resources from the developed countries to the developing – a North-South flow. The South-North flow of information receives less attention. A number of moral questions arise from the current state of South-North information flow, six forms of which are analysed in this paper with particular reference to Africa. The discussion is approached from an ethical perspective based on a specific moral framework based on three moral claims: (1) there exist universal information-related human rights – the right of freedom of access to information, the right of freedom of expression, and the right of individuals and groups to control the information they have generated; (2) the notion of a common good, predicated on a moral community which shares certain values, imposes an obligation to share information; and (3) justice is the main normative tool that can be used to regulate the flow of information….”
“It is not enough to encourage researchers in the Tripuras and Thai Nguyens of the world today to share their research data and outputs in the public domain. The national, institutional and collegial environments in developing countries put excessive pressure on researchers to focus on publishing – and getting published is not easy. So it’s not surprising that scholarly commons principles – such as maximizing the transparency and accessibility of research data – are not primary concerns.
It is essential, therefore, to make a case at the level of national university commissions or at least institutions, where academic structures and guidelines are put in place. It is also essential to influence policymakers and research funders to promulgate new approaches to research communication.
Making Scholarly Commons a global academic norm is not an easy journey and the going will be slow. But to begin with, it is imperative that we start convening and listening in diverse places around the world if we believe that research communication should be an open, well-connected artifact of humankind that helps us all progress.”
“The movement against restrictive digital copyright protection arose largely in response to the excesses of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) of 1998. In The Digital Rights Movement, Hector Postigo shows that what began as an assertion of consumer rights to digital content has become something broader: a movement concerned not just with consumers and gadgets but with cultural ownership. Increasingly stringent laws and technological measures are more than incoveniences; they lock up access to our “cultural commons.”
Postigo describes the legislative history of the DMCA and how policy “blind spots” produced a law at odds with existing and emerging consumer practices. Yet the DMCA established a political and legal rationale brought to bear on digital media, the Internet, and other new technologies. Drawing on social movement theory and science and technology studies, Postigo presents case studies of resistance to increased control over digital media, describing a host of tactics that range from hacking to lobbying.
Postigo discusses the movement’s new, user-centered conception of “fair use” that seeks to legitimize noncommercial personal and creative uses such as copying legitimately purchased content and remixing music and video tracks. He introduces the concept of technological resistance—when hackers and users design and deploy technologies that allows access to digital content despite technological protection mechanisms—as the flip side to the technological enforcement represented by digital copy protection and a crucial tactic for the movement.
This is an open access title from MIT Press (2012)….”
“With regards to policies on knowledge management, the EU puts great emphasis on what one could call the ‘enclosure of knowledge’. This enclosure happens through the expansion of intellectual property protection, both within and outside of Europe by means of trade policies. Aside from potentially spurring innovation and helping European industries, this also results in, for instance, long patent monopolies on medicines and long copyright terms. The copyright reform discussed in 2016 is of crucial importance to the online information commons. It will determine the boundaries of innovative social value-creation through sharing and collaboration online. Sufficient exceptions and limitations to copyright are essential. For example, allowing for text and data mining would support scientific and academic research. Moreover, assuring the right to link information from one web to another is one of the key characteristics of sharing online. On the global level, through the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the World Health Organisation (WHO), and the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), the EU tends to defend the enclosure of knowledge, promoting further expansion of intellectual property rights of all kinds, from medicines and broadcast signals, to education materials and climate technologies. To allow for a collaborative knowledge sharing economy, the EU will have to be more open to socially inclusive and flexible business models that are more compatible with both the digital era and the urgent needs of people, in both the North and South. The EU continues to allow the centralised infrastructures of giant telecom operators and monopolistic internet companies to control and commodify people’s online lives. The European Commission has made some efforts that recognise the need to share knowledge and embrace the possibilities of the digital age. This is for example reflected in commitments on open access publishing mandate in the context of Research and Development funding, open data in some of its policies, and the exploration of open science. Recently, Members States called for a review of monopoly-extending rules on biomedical knowledge in the area of pharmaceuticals due to concerns over increasingly high medicines prices. However, these moves towards knowledge sharing remain timid and are not at the centre of EU policy strategies as it remains mostly conformist to the interests of the cultural industries, the pharmaceutical industry, or agribusiness….”