Creative Mix and Match Re-Use Is Not What Open Access Is About

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Wed, 21 Nov 2007 15:46:25 +0000

    Hyperlinked version of this posting:

In Newsweek, Brian Braiker discusses some interesting and important
copyright, licensing and re-use issues -- about books re-using
wikipedia material without attribution, about blogs posting published
journal figures, about the re-use of free-culture text, photographs
and music -- but it is important to understand that these are not Open
Access (OA) issues.

OA primarily concerns the very special case of research articles
published in peer-reviewed journals (about 2.5 million articles a
year, in about 25,000 journals). All those articles, without
exception, are (and always have been) author give-aways, written
exclusively for maximal research usage and impact, not for royalty
revenue. OA means making them freely accessible online to all would-be
users webwide (for reading, downloading, storing, printing-off,
data-crunching, using the findings in further research, building upon
them, citing them -- but not necessarily for verbatim re-publication
or re-posting of the text or figures -- beyond quoting limited
verbatim text excerpts, with attribution, under "Fair Use": more than
that still requires the author's permission).

OA does not require adopting a special CC attribution/re-use license
(although if desired by the author and accepted by the publisher, such
a license is always welcome). Nor does OA require the kinds of blanket
mix-and-match re-use rights that teenagers might like to have for
making and posting their own creative re-mixes out of commercial music
or movies. That is a problem, but not an OA problem.

It is not even clear whether a blanket right to mix-and-match
scientific content (even with attribution) would be a good thing.
(Figures need not be re-posted, for example; the OA version can be
linked; HTML even allows pinpoint linking to the specific figure
rather than to the document as a whole.)

What sets OA's primary target apart is that it is an exception-free
give-away corpus, wanting only to be read and used (but not
necessarily re-published). It should not be conflated with or
constrained by the needs of the much larger and more complicated and
exception-ridden body of creative digital work of which it is merely a
small, special subset.

Stevan Harnad

If you have adopted or plan to adopt a policy of providing Open Access
to your own research article output, please describe your policy at:

    BOAI-1 ("Green"): Publish your article in a suitable toll-access journal
    BOAI-2 ("Gold"): Publish your article in an open-access journal if/when
    a suitable one exists.
    in BOTH cases self-archive a supplementary version of your article
    in your own institutional repository.
Received on Wed Nov 21 2007 - 15:52:27 GMT

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