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

Heather Morrison Heather.Morrison at uottawa.ca
Sun Jan 26 21:30:41 UTC 2014

On 2014-01-26, at 4:01 PM, Bjoern Brembs wrote:

On Friday, January 24, 2014, 9:44:17 PM, you wrote:

Also please note that CC-BY is not as simple as people
think. Scholars use CC-BY and are shocked when they see
people selling their work, even though they have authorized this.

No, it's not 'their' work. It's the taxpayers work.
How many taxpayers can you list that are shocked that their tax dollars benefit the economy?


There are some problems with your argument:

1.	If the work of scholars is not their work, but rather the taxpayers' work, then scholars have no rights to grant copyright to publishers, period, no rights to obtain patents or to work with commercial companies or universities to help them to achieve patents. I think a good argument could be made that this is how things should work, but in reality this is not how the system works now. FYI, this would be an argument AGAINST CC-BY, as CC licenses are a partial waiver of copyright, and from this perspective scholars have no copyright to grant. If you would like to advocate for this position I very much encourage you to do so!

2.	If the work of scholars is 100% paid for by taxpayers where you work and live, what an excellent model - please write about how this works! Where I come from, even at a public university the share of the budget that comes from public funding is far from 100% and tending to shrink. Universities here are funded by a combination of public funding, student tuition, endowments and other private donations. If we think that funding = copyright ownership, then a split between all of these parties would make more sense. However, copyright does not depend on who funded a work, but rather who created it. For example, would you propose that taxpayers should claim copyright? 

3.	If the base funding of universities is far less than 100% taxpayer funded, this where I live is very true of research funding as well. Currently the success rate for applicants to Canada's Social Sciences and Humanities Research Councils' main grant process is about 20%. This has led SSHRC to create a separate fund with dedicated funding for emerging scholars (who were otherwise almost entirely shut out), the Insight Development Grants. Here, my understanding is that the approval rate is about 60-65% but only about 30% of projects actually get funded (due to lack of funds). In this environment, many scholars simply don't bother to apply. What this means is that a very large percentage of research is conducted without taxpayer funding.

4.	A lot of research is conducted by students who in North America are net payers into the system, often by a substantial amount. A few lucky students receive scholarships or support for their work, and occasionally some research funding. However, overall, I would say that it is students who subsidize the system including the taxpayer, not the other way round. I would submit that this is a completely separate issue but a very important one for our society and one that should be a priority to address. 

5. 	Research often involves other parties besides funders and researchers. An argument can be made that research on First Nations groups properly belongs to them (in Canada, some of our First Nations groups do make such claims). Businesses, medical subjects, organizations that help to facilitate the research - many people participate in research projects. This illustrates an issue with the "funder copyright" scenario - if rich people are able to fund research conducted on poor people does this mean that rich people should own the results? I would argue no, that others who have contributed to works have rights as well.


Heather Morrison

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