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

Heather Morrison Heather.Morrison at uottawa.ca
Tue Jan 28 15:37:41 UTC 2014

This is intended to be a summary post - this is a good discussion but I'd rather it didn't get too repetitive and I respect that some of my colleagues will continue to remain firmly convinced that open access needs CC-BY regardless of what I say. 

Many of these arguments made by these colleagues are exactly the same arguments that I have made as an open access advocate over the years: free access to everyone, minimal or no copyright restrictions, taxpayer access, OA is good for business as well as the public / social good. However, I remain firmly opposed to equating open access with the CC-BY license, because:

1.	The resemblance between CC-BY and the BOAI definition is superficial in nature. It is particularly important for open access advocates to be aware that CC licenses, including CC-BY, do not mean that works must be made available free of charge. CC-BY policy has a huge, potentially systemic loophole: the possibility of re-enclosure. What is given freely today with a CC-BY license could easily be available solely through sale from Elsevier or services like RightsLink down the road. 

2.	Attempting to force CC-BY through policy results in further loopholes, for example through creative twists on licensing such as the CC-BY / exclusive license to publish of Elsevier and the Royal Society.

3.	There are downsides to permitting commercial re-use that could result in a backlash by researchers. The more that researchers equate OA with CC-BY, the greater the probability that the backlash will be against OA rather than against CC-BY. Recent concerns expressed by scholars about people selling works they have licensed CC-BY should be taken as a reason for caution. While there are many grey areas, people granting blanket commercial rights to their works should be aware (or made aware by publishers or funders requiring this license) that the most obvious commercial use of a copyrighted work is selling the work per se.

4.	After ten years of use of CC-BY licenses by a number of authors and publishers, there is as yet no clear example illustrating such a compelling use of derivatives as to require all scholars to grant derivative rights on a blanket basis.

5.	There are valid scholarly reasons for hesitating to grant derivative rights, such as the potential for incorrect or harmful derivatives. This is a good reason for tolerance, to allow scholars to decide whether the risks of allowing derivatives justify potential benefits. 

6.	The UK BIS committee examined this issue and suggested that more research is needed on the question of licensing.

Conclusion: open access overlaps but does not exactly match Creative Commons licenses. There are pro-open-access arguments and pro-scholarship arguments against attempting to force CC licenses as a default for open access. I do not expect everyone, or even anyone, to agree with my perspective on this matter. What I am hoping is that as many open access advocates as possible will appreciate that there are diverse views on the topic within the OA community itself. It is possible to be an open access activist but opposed to attempts to force CC-BY as default for OA. 


Heather Morrison
The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics
Creative Commons and Open Access Critique Series

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