Re: Poynder on Digital Rights Management and Open Access

From: Richard Poynder <aotg20_at_DSL.PIPEX.COM>
Date: Tue, 26 Apr 2005 13:51:53 +0100

Stevan Harnad said:

> Is it not merely fanning fears (without foundation) to insist
> that the re-negotiating DRM is necessary because "more and more" of
> the 92% green are back-sliding, when to date only one green publisher
> (Nature) has back-slid, and only from full-green (immediate postscript
> self-archiving) to pale-green (immediate preprint self-archiving plus
> postprint self-archiving 6 months after publication)?

However small the overall impact of Nature's back-pedalling may be in
itself, it teaches us that relying on "permissions" from publishers is an
inherently unstable strategy for the OA movement, since these permissions
can be withdrawn at any point in time. Moreover since publishers do not
create the material that they publish, a more appropriate way of organising
things would be for them to seek permissions from authors, not the other way

> > Of course, most publishers do not object to
> self-archiving. The second
> > issue then is that since evidence suggests that --
> regardless of its
> > legality, regardless of the existence of publisher permission --
> > many researchers appear to believe that copyright *does* prohibit
> > them from self-archiving how can the movement resolve the matter?
> Very simply. And the researchers themselves have told us exactly how:
> Alma Swan's two international, multidisciplinary surveys have reported
> that 79% of authors reply that they do *not* self-archive, and will
> not self-archive, until and unless their employers or funders
> *require* them to do so; but if and when they do require them to do
> so, they reply that they
> *will* self-archive, and will self-archive *willingly*. (Only 4%
> replied that they would not self-archive even if required; I would say
> a 96% resolution counts as a solution, and is vastly preferable to the
> tail wagging -- or holding back -- the dog!)

And as Alma Swan elsewhere says: "The fact is that copyright raises its head
all the time when authors are asked about OA and it is acting as a deterrent
to self-archiving. So it can't be ignored."

Indeed, Alma is not the only person to have made this point. Here are the
words of Stevan Harnad:

"[W]hat really needs changing is journals' copyright policies, which are a
perceived deterrent to self-archiving refereed papers (even though they can
be circumvented completely

Since research funders seem equally unclear about the current rights
situation there appears to be considerable confusion all round.

>Richard! You register first, as with all archives, and then you can do the
keystrokes: Please let me know the timing!

I tried it but had some difficulties. Specifically, I could not establish
whether the article I was trying to post had been accepted by the system.
After 20 minutes trying to work this out I gave up. Perhaps this is because
it is only a demo system, but I think the first thing a researcher would
want to do is check that his paper has indeed been uploaded - by doing a
search to see if it is there. It might also be because I am not as
technology literate as I would wish, but then many researchers might be
similarly handicapped!

> > Most notably one of those recommendations stated: "The issue of
> > copyright is crucial to the success of self-archiving. We
> recommend
> > that, as part of its strategy for the implementation of
> institutional
> > repositories, Government ascertain what impact a UK-based policy
> > of author copyright retention would have on UK authors. Providing
> > that it can be established that such a policy would not have a
> > disproportionately negative impact, Research Councils and other
> > Government funders should mandate their funded
> researchers to retain
> > the copyright on their research articles, licensing it to
> publishers
> > for the purposes of publication. The Government would also need
> > to be active in raising the issue of copyright at an international
> > level. (Paragraph 126)"
> This is actually a very reasonable recommendation, with
> exactly the right priorities. Notice that it does not
> recommend that this further research on the potential impact
> of a potential copyright-retention policy be performed
> *before* or *instead of* or as a *precondition for* the
> recommended self-archiving mandate. It quite sensibly
> recommends this bit of research to be performed in the
> background, in parallel. Nor does it prejudge the outcome; it
> merely says that if the outcome does not prove to be too
> negative, a copy-right retention policy could then be
> mandated too. Who can disagree with that?
> But meanwhile, the priority remains an immediate
> self-archiving mandate.

Absolutely. We are in agreement. More clarity is needed.

> The reality is that 92% of journals have given self-archiving
> their green light, yet 85% of authors are still just parked
> and not moving. Prodding them needlessly and irrelevantly to
> move on retaining copyright when they are not even moving on
> self-archiving just seems to be inviting two forms of
> sluggishness in place of one.
> I know you weren't recommending that the 15% who *are*
> self-archiving should stop and renegotiate DRM instead! But
> the 15% self-archivers are not the problem: the 85%
> non-self-archivers are. And what is needed to set them in
> motion is an institutional keystroke mandate, not yet another
> thing they can stall on (and this time a 92% unnecessary thing)!

And my point was that many in this 85% group of authors are still parked
because the rights situation is uncertain and they don't want a traffic cop
to pull them in when/if they move on to the highway. So let's clarify the
rights and allow the parked authors to move off into the self-archiving fast
lane - so long, of course, as they have been mandated to self-archive by
their funders. Since funders also have it in their power to clarify the
rights situation - by insisting that researchers retain sufficient rights to
self-archive - they can apparently achieve both aims at one fell swoop.

Richard Poynder
Received on Tue Apr 26 2005 - 13:51:53 BST

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