ALLEA Response to Plan S

“ALLEA [All European Academies] supports open access as a major step towards realising the universality of science and welcomes the ambition of Plan S in this regard. Implementation will however require extensive consultation and dialogue with all parties, in particular the research performing communities represented through ALLEA and other scientific stakeholders….

In summary, ALLEA broadly welcomes Plan S but with major caveats. The time scale envisaged for such a complex transformation is clearly unrealistic if the preconditions identified by ALLEA in its earlier statements are to be implemented prior to Plan S becoming operational; the funding agencies have to provide the necessary funds in their budgets for paying the publications fees, resolve the question of promotion of early career researchers, consider the special circumstances of minority disciplines, address the IP issues, and the like. To do this it will be essential to engage the full spectrum of affected parties and policy makers. Scholarly communication is the life-blood of research and it is in all our interest to make this as reliable, efficient, sustainable, trustworthy and open as possible. In particular, critical peer review and community evaluation is crucial and must be properly incentivised, enabled and rewarded. ALLEA looks forward to working with the initiators of Plan S, endorsing organisations, as well as other stakeholders in facilitating this necessary transformation of not just academic publishing, but the whole system of research evaluation, accreditation and validation. We note also that the universality of science requires that this be a global transformation of the research ecosystem, but one which can be initiated and led by Europe.”

The fight to keep ideas open to all – Open Voices

The internet has dramatically lowered the cost of copying, including illicit copying. When the web was first weaved in the 1990s, intellectual-property owners found their property had, involuntarily, been turned into a common. Strong new copyright rules and draconian enforcement seemed to be necessary to tame the rebellious digital commoners and reclaim the level of control that had existed in an analogue world. 

These arguments found a receptive audience among policymakers worldwide, and copyright’s scope, duration and penalties were dramatically expanded.  Over the past two decades new legal rights have allowed “digital fences” to be used to surround copyrighted works, even if those fences interfered with people’s rights, such as to freely use snippets of content (the legal doctrine of “fair dealing,” known as “fair use” in America). Copyright’s restrictions were also misused to curtail competition, block research on cryptography and produce new online monopolies. Again, the “solution” to the tragedy of the commons—property rights—came with hefty costs.

You could consider the growing restrictions around intellectual property as “the second enclosure movement”. The first enclosures were the centuries-long waves of expropriation of English and Scottish common lands, turning them over to a handful of landowners….

Yet just as Hardin’s argument met with pushback from Ostrom and others in the physical context, there has also been powerful intellectual resistance to the second enclosure movement.  Most notably, some of the problems of the terrestrial commons do not apply to the intangible versions: it is hard to overfish an idea….

Consider open-source software. It is precisely because the licence guarantees that the commons will remain open, and that each new contribution will be shared under the same terms, that people can commit to using it. Imagine trying to get phone manufacturers to use the Android operating system if Google could take it private at any time….

Furthermore, the proliferation of property rights has its costs. The American legal scholars Michael Heller and Rebecca Eisenberg call it the “anti-commons”: the idea that innovation withers because of too many property rights, patent thickets, exhaustive and exhausting copyright licensing procedures and the like. To take one example, the smartphone in your pocket is covered by between 5,000 and 15,000 patents, and potentially by as many as 250,000 when all related patents are counted. …”

Free software/free science | Kelty | First Monday

Over the last few years, as the Open Source/Free Software movement has become a constant in the business and technology press, generating conferences, spawning academic investigations and business ventures alike, one single question seems to have beguiled nearly everyone: “how do you make money with free software?”

If the question isn’t answered with a business plan, it is inevitably directed towards some notion of “reputation”. The answer goes: Free Software programmers do what they love, for whatever reason, and if they do it well enough they gain a reputation for being a good coder, or at least a loud one. Throughout the discussions, reputation functions as a kind of metaphorical substitute for money – it can spill over into real economies, be converted via better jobs or consulting gigs, or be used to make decisions about software projects or influence other coders. Like money, it is a form of remuneration for work done, where the work done is measured solely by the individual, each person his or her own price for creating something. Unlike money, however, it is also often seen as a kind of property. Reputation is communicated by naming, and the names that count are those of software projects and the people who contribute to them. This sits uneasily beside the knowledge that free software is in fact a kind of real (or legal) property (i.e. copyrighted intellectual property). The existence of free software relies on intellectual property and licensing law (Kelty, forthcoming; Lessig, 1999).

In considering the issue, most commentators seem to have been led rather directly to similar questions about the sciences. After all, this economy of reputation sounds extraordinairily familiar to most participants [1]. In particular two claims are often made: 1) That free software is somehow ‘like’ science, and therefore good; and, 2) That free software is – like science – a well-functioning ‘gift economy’ (a form of meta-market with its own currency) and that the currency of payment in this economy is reputation. These claims usually serve the purpose of countering the assumption that nothing good can come of system where individuals are not paid to produce. The assumption it hides is that science is naturally and essentially an open process – one in which truth always prevails.

The balance of this paper examines these claims, first through a brief tour of some works in the history and social study of science that have encountered remarkably similar problems, and second by comparing the two realms with respect to their “currencies” and “intellectual property” both metaphorical and actual….”

What is the Price to Pay for Sci-Hub’s “Free” Articles

Costs can include those associated with building and maintaining a Web-based system that lets authors submit their papers at any time, Zappulla notes. There are also content management systems that keep track of articles as they’re submitted, peer-reviewed, and revised to provide critical feedback to authors and further the scholarly publishing process. Copy editing, text formatting, and graphics processing take place before a manuscript is finally published and uploaded to a digital library.

“Whether they are on the Web or in print, authors still want their articles to be easily discovered and read and to look good,” Zappulla says. “None of that is without cost.”

And for IEEE there’s the cost of keeping its platform, the IEEE Xplore Digital Library, running at the state of the art.

Added to those investments is the cost of archiving the material to “ensure the content will be available for posterity, no matter what happens,” Guida says. “The costs of continuing to create and develop the outstanding scholarly journals that IEEE and other STM publishers have introduced over the years must be covered.” Revenue from traditional subscriptions pays for those services, Zappulla says….”

Guest Post: Think Sci-Hub is Just Downloading PDFs? Think Again – The Scholarly Kitchen

Let me be clear: Sci-Hub is not just stealing PDFs. They’re phishing, they’re spamming, they’re hacking, they’re password-cracking, and basically doing anything to find personal credentials to get into academic institutions. While illegal access to published content is the most obvious target, this is just the tip of an iceberg concealing underlying efforts to steal multiple streams of personal and research data from the world’s academic institutions….”

Jonathan Band and Sean Flynn, SECTION-BY-SECTION ANALYSIS A TREATY ON COPYRIGHT EXCEPTIONS AND LIMITATIONS FOR EDUCATIONAL AND RESEARCH ACTIVITIES (TERA)

“The disparity in exceptions between countries creates barriers to cross-border sharing of educational and research materials. A compilation or reading or research materials that is lawfully produced in one country may not be lawfully consumed in another because of the different exceptions environments. This fact creates a particular barrier for the international dissemination of open educational resources. Open educational resources are created with the intention of allowing free use and adaptation by users, which makes them a perfect way to facilitate harmonization of educational standards while permitting tailoring to local language, culture and context. But open educational resources rely on copyright exceptions for the quotation or other use of copyrighted works within them and thus can face copyright problems when shared between jurisdictions….”

Sci-Hub blocked in Russia following ruling by Moscow court | News | Chemistry World

Sci-Hub, the popular pirate site that bypasses paywalls to illicitly host millions of pay-to-read scientific papers, is being blocked in Russia after a court in the country ruled against the site.

Last month, the Moscow City Court ruled that Sci-Hub should be blocked in the country following complaints from the academic publishers Elsevier and Springer Nature, who alleged intellectual property infringement. As a result, Russia’s state media regulator Roskomnadzor (RKN) has blocked Sci-Hub and related mirror sites. It is believed that Alexandra Elbakyan, who founded Sci-Hub in 2011, operates the site out of Russia. Elbakyan did not respond to a request for comment….”

Confused about copyright? Assessing Researchers’ Comprehension of Copyright Transfer Agreements

Abstract. Academic authors’ confusion about copyright and publisher policy is often cited as a challenge to their effective sharing of their own published research, from having a chilling effect on self-archiving in institutional and subject repositories, to leading to the posting of versions of articles on social networking sites in contravention of publisher policy and beyond. This study seeks to determine the extent to which authors understand the terms of these policies as expressed in publishers’ copyright transfer agreements (CTAs), taking into account such factors as the authors’ disciplines and publishing experience, as well as the wording and structure of these agreements. METHODS We distributed an online survey experiment to corresponding authors of academic research articles indexed in the Scopus database. Participants were randomly assigned to read one of two copyright transfer agreements and were subsequently asked to answer a series of questions about these agreements to determine their level of comprehension. The survey was sent to 3,154 participants, with 122 responding, representing a 4% response rate. Basic demographic information as well as information about participants’ previous publishing experience was also collected. We analyzed the survey data using Ordinary Least Squared (OLS) regressions and probit regressions. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION Participants demonstrated a low rate of understanding of the terms of the CTAs they were asked to read. Participants averaged a score of 33% on the survey, indicating a low comprehension level of author rights. This figure did not vary significantly, regardless of the respondents’ discipline, time in academia, level of experience with publishing, or whether or not they had published previously with the publisher whose CTA they were administered. Results also indicated that participants did equally poorly on the survey regardless of which of the two CTAs they received. However, academic authors do appear to have a greater chance of understanding a CTA when a specific activity is explicitly outlined in the text of the agreement.