OA is not about copyright abolition or author reprint royalties

From: Stevan Harnad <harnad_at_ecs.soton.ac.uk>
Date: Sat, 14 Jan 2006 14:02:24 +0000

> From: R. Raveendran, Chief Editor, Indian Journal of Pharmacology
> To: Discussion Group for Open Access Workshop India
> Sent: Thursday, January 12, 2006 1:12 PM
> Subject: [oa-india] Sharing reprint revenue, OA and FA
> I am not a great enthusiast of OA mainly because of its 'copyright
>abolition clause'. I have already expressed my concern on this forum that
>copyright abolition will benefit only the commercial organisations not
>the researchers and academics. In my opinion, Free Access will be more
>beneficial to researchers if only journals are willing to change their
>policies. One such policy and its benefits to the researchers is evident
>from the announcement given below. Journals can retain the copyright
>and use it to make money for themselves and the researchers. At the
>same time journals should not restrict any legitimate, non-commercial
>use of its contents by academics and researchers. Can't this be achieved
>by Free Access? Why do we need OA which is likely to kill many journals
>if not all?
> ===============================================================
> IJP starts sharing reprint revenue with authors
> Starting 2005, IJP took a policy decision, to reward authors for their
> contributions which bring in reprint revenue for the journal. Sale of
> reprints adds to the financial stability of the journal, while propagating
> knowledge transmitted by its contributors. Sharing of the reprint revenue
> by the journal is expected to motivate authors for better quality inputs
> to the IJP. This practice will be more rewarding for the journal as well
> as the authors
> In 2005, IJP sold reprints for more than one lakh rupees. A German
> company, bought reprint rights of the paper "Ginger as an antiemetic in
> nausea and vomiting induced by chemotherapy: a randomized, crossover,
> double blind study " which was contributed by Smita Sontakke, Vijay
> Thawani and Meena Naik from Government Medical College, Nagpur (IJP,
> Feb 2003, 35: 32-36). The chief editor gave away 10% of the reprint
> revenue to the authors by presenting them with a cheque for Rs 12,000
> during the Annual Conference of the IPS at Chennai in December 2005.
> The IJP congratulates the first recipients of the "reprint share scheme"
> and hopes they would utilize this amount for academic pursuit.
> =======================================================
> Thanks & Regards
> R.Raveendran
> Chief Editor
> Indian Journal of Pharmacology
> JIPMER, Pondicherry - 605 006
> Ph: 0413-2271969
> Visit www.ijp-online.com Dgroups is a joint initiative of Bellanet,
> DFID, Hivos, ICA, IICD, OneWorld, UNAIDS and World Bank

I hope Subbiah Arunacalam can re-post the following reply also to the
oa-india list.

Dr. Raveendran (Chief Editor, Indian Journal of Pharmacology, an OA
["gold"] Journal)


but he seems to be mistaken about what Open Access (OA) means: He seems
to think OA is about "abolishing copyright"! That is certainly not what
OA means, or advocates. I am puzzled as to where that erroneous idea
came from (and offer 3 hypotheses below), but first, the meaning of OA
needs to be made clear straight away (I. DEFINITION OF OA, below).

Dr. Raveendran also recommends the journals pay author reprint
royalties. I discuss this in the second part of this posting (II. AUTHOR


            I. DEFINITION OF OA

OA (Open Access) is about making the full-texts of all published,
peer-reviewed research journal articles accessible online toll-free for
all would-be users, webwide, in order to maximise their research usage
and impact.

There are two ways to provide OA. One ("OA Green") is for the author to
publish the article in a traditional journal (with the usual copyright
agreements) but also to make his own final draft freely accessible online
by self-archiving it in on the web, free for all (usually in his own
institution's repository).


Of the nearly 9000 journals published by the 128 publishers processed
by SHERPA/Romeo so far (including virtually all of the top international
journals), 93% have already endorsed author self-archiving:


The second way to provide OA ("OA Gold") is for the journal in which the
article is published to make the published version freely accessible
online. (Some, but not all, OA journals charge $500-$3000 per article
to the author-institution for this service.) The total number of OA
journals is currently 2000 (and Dr. Raveendra's IJP is one of them):


As should now be clear, neither form of OA involves the abolition
of copyright. Both forms continue to depend on it. OA green retains
conventional copyright or licensing agreements; OA gold sometimes adopts
a Creative Commons copyright license, sometimes not:


The only three ways I can even imagine that Dr. Raveendran arrived at
his mistaken idea that OA is about abolishing copyright are (1) from the
minority of well-intentioned people who are unfamiliar with OA and have
been (needlessly) urging researchers to *retain* copyright (or negotiate
a Creative Commons License) rather than to transfer it to the journal in
which they publish. There is nothing wrong with doing this, but it is
neither OA nor necessary for OA (and implying that it is either OA or a
necessary prerequisite of OA, is actually a disservice to OA, needlessly
delaying it still longer, when it is already long overdue).

The second possibility is that Dr. Raveendran heard the recommendations
(2) from an even tinier number of well-meaning but misinformed individuals
who have been urging authors to make their work "public domain." e.g.,
the ill-fated US Sabo Bill (2003):

    "Public Access to Science Act (Sabo Bill, H.R. 2613)"

That 2003 Bill was not well thought out, and has already failed.
It has been replaced in the US by the (pending) 2005 CURES Act:

    "Mandated OA for publicly-funded medical research in the US"

and in the UK by the UK Government Science and Technology Committee
2004 recommendation:


which is soon (we hope) to be implemented as the 2006 RCUK self-archiving


My third and last hypothesis as to how Dr. Raveendran might have arrived
at his mistaken impression of OA is that it was somehow a result of some
early, unfortunate internal squabbling in the OA movement about so-called
"Free Access" (FA) vs. "Open Access" (OA).

That squabbling arose from two sources: the first was (i) an unnecessarily
exacting initial "definition" of OA, defining it, needlessly, as not only
the free online webwide access that it really is, but as also including
the retention by the author of certain re-publishing/re-use rights,
which the author then gives to all users.

This over-exacting initial definition of OA (since replaced in practice by
the more natural, simpler, and more realistic one: "free online access")
had itself been inspired by what had at first glance appeared to be valid
analogies between the OA movement and (a) the Open Source Initiative,
(b) the Creative Commons movement and (c) the data-sharing of the Human
Genome Project.

Ultimately, however, all three analogies proved to be misleading
and invalid, and the extra requirements they would have entailed
(including author copyright retention/renegotiation and the granting
of blanket re-use and re-publication rights to all users) proved to be
both unnecessary and a retardant to OA, for the simple reason that for
article *texts* (unlike software, data, and other kinds of content), all
requisite and legitimate research uses *already come with the territory*
when the full-texts are made immediately and permanently accessible for
free for all online, webwide.

(The second source of the squabbling was (ii) a green/gold dispute about
whether green OA is "true" OA. This has, I think, now been settled
affirmatively, and so we can forget about it.)

    "Free Access vs. Open Access" (2003)

    "On the Deep Disanalogy Between Text and Software and
    Between Text and Data Insofar as Free/Open Access is Concerned"
    "Apercus of WOS Meeting:
    Making Ends Meet in the Creative Commons" (2004)

    "Open Access Does Not require Republishing and Reprinting Rights"

    "Proposed update of BOAI definition of OA:
    Immediate and Permanent (2005)



The idea of peer-reviewed research journals offering to pay their authors
"royalty" revenue from reprint sales is based on a misunderstanding
of why researchers publish in peer-reviewed journals. It is in order
to maximise the usage and impact of their findings, not in order to
make pennies from their sales! (That is why researchers, as authors,
give away their texts to their publishers as well as to all would-be
users, and that is why researchers, as peer-reviewers, give away their
refereeing services to publishers and authors for free.)

    "Authors 'Victorious' in UnCover Copyright Suit" (2000)

Indeed, in the paper era, authors used to take upon themselves the
time and expense of providing free reprints to all would-be users who
mailed them a reprint request (based, often, on scanning ISI's
weekly "Current Contents") -- so eager were authors to maximise the
usage and impact of their work. Today the OA movement's main motivation
is to end all access-denial to would-be users who cannot afford the
access-tolls, thereby ending authors' needless impact loss.

    Harnad, S. (2006) Publish or Perish - Self-Archive to Flourish:
    The Green Route to Open Access. ERCIM News (January 2006)

    Maximising the Return on UK's Public Investment in Research

    Maximising the Return on Australia's Public Investment in Research

    Making the case for web-based self-archiving [Canada]

Indeed it was Thomas Walker's proposal that authors should pay
journals for OA eprints (a precursor of OA gold) that launched the
American Scientist Open Access Forum in 1998!

    Walker, T.J. (1998) Free Internet Access to Traditional Journals.
    American Scientist 86(5)

I doubt, though, that reinforcing access-blocking tolls is what Dr.
Raveendra had in mind, given that his is an OA (gold) journal! If I
might make a suggestion, a better use of any journal reprint-sale revenue
would to be to use it to cover the journal's own costs, to ensure that
it remains a viable OA journal in the long term! If there is a surplus,
why not use it to reduce the journal's paper subscription costs, or
reprint costs themselves, thereby increasing access still more, rather
than simply offering the author a share in the access-blocking tolls?

Stevan Harnad
Moderator, American Scientist Open Access Forum

Chaire de recherche du Canada
Centre de neuroscience de la cognition (CNC)
Université du Québec à Montréal
Montréal, Québec, Canada H3C 3P8

Intelligence, Agents and Multimedia
Department of Electronics and Computer Science
University of Southampton
Highfield, Southampton
Received on Sat Jan 14 2006 - 14:12:28 GMT

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