[Open-access] [open-science] Open Science Anthology published

Heather Morrison Heather.Morrison at uottawa.ca
Fri Jan 24 14:35:28 UTC 2014

For the purposes of full understanding of the implications of the CC-BY: I argue that RightsLink is perfectly within its legal rights to sell CC-BY licensed articles whether revenues are shared with the publisher or simply kept by RightsLink. This is a commercial use of the work, hence pre-authorized through the use of the CC-BY license. CC-BY does not impose an obligation on a downstream user to direct customers to free versions, merely a negative obligation to not actively prevent use of free versions. Further I argue that while there are many grey areas where there is no consensus on what constitutes commercial use, the RightsLink example - selling CC-BY articles for a profit - is a clearcut, straightforward, obvious commercial use. That is, if you don't want people to take your work and sell it for a profit, don't use CC-BY.

Note that this is not an argument for NC. No CC license requires "free of charge". An argument could be made that RightsLink could provide NC licensed articles, charging for their own service but not royalties for the article per se unless by arrangement with a copyright holder. Similarly if you print out an NC article you likely are paying for the paper and printing; this is not a commercial use of the article itself.


Heather Morrison

On Jan 24, 2014, at 12:38 AM, "Peter Murray-Rust" <pm286 at cam.ac.uk<mailto:pm286 at cam.ac.uk>> wrote:

On Fri, Jan 24, 2014 at 12:41 AM, Mark MacGillivray <mark at cottagelabs.com<mailto:mark at cottagelabs.com>> wrote:
On Thu, Jan 23, 2014 at 11:27 PM, Heather Morrison <Heather.Morrison at uottawa.ca<mailto:Heather.Morrison at uottawa.ca>> wrote:
Thank you very much, Mark ~ just to be sure we are all clear on what you are talking about, a question for you below ~

It sounds to me like you are planning a service that involves charging people to deliver open access articles. This would be similar to RightsLink taking free open access articles and charging people for them. Am I getting this right?



Mark is completely right. RightsLink is a TaxCollecting service for publishers. Nothing more. It adds no value to the author or user - in facts it adds negative value by preventing easy re-use.

Publishers such as BMC and PLOS do not route users to RightsLink. They make is clear in many obvious places that the reader has almost complete rights - except that they have to acknowledge the author (CC-BY).

By contrast many publishers (especially of hybrids) put a prominent "Request Permissions" on the splash page which takes people to RightsLink. If the paper is CC-BY then RightsLink SHOULD display a notice saying "You are free to use and reuse and redistribute this article without charge for whatever purpose - see CC-BY licence". In practice many of them issues charges via RightsLink for CC-BY articles. This is unacceptable and similar to the many companies (as in UK PPI) who offer charged services for content or services that the government make freely / openly available.

The commonest offender is Elsevier where CC-BY papers frequently link to RightsLink and are charged. I have highlighted many examples on my blog (http://blogs.ch.cam.ac.uk/pmr) and Elsevier says it's "technical problems" and "please give them time to fix it". It should never have happened. I have no idea whether they refund money.


Heather Morrison

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Peter Murray-Rust
Reader in Molecular Informatics
Unilever Centre, Dep. Of Chemistry
University of Cambridge
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