[open-science] SPARC author addendum uses CC-NC licence and now all hybrid publishers have followed

Peter Murray-Rust pm286 at cam.ac.uk
Sun Dec 11 17:58:45 UTC 2011

I think you need to clarify exactly what you are and are not covering. If
you wish, as an academic, to generate income by receiving payment for
academic authorship that is acceptable in some disciplines but is not
expected in others. There is also a strong distinction between journal
articles (where almost all OA discussion applies) and monographs/chapters
which are largely excluded from OA. A large argument for Open Access is
that authors receive no payment for their work. This is universal in
scientific journals.

Your article covers science in some detail and I have replied assuming that
your recommendation was universal and applied equally to science

Data mining is a fine thing to advance science. Allowing commercial
applications means that authors and publishers that have given away their
own work as OA, may not be able to afford the value-added version created
through data mining. If data mining is the leap ahead that I think this is,
this means that the less affluent scholars, libraries and publishers end up
relatively further behind. That is, one step ahead in gaining the
advantages of OA per se, and two steps behind if they cannot afford the
value-add built on their work. For this reason, I strongly recommend that
OA publishers in the third world use CC-NC licenses.

Text-and data mining in science - AND creation of derivative works -  is
only possible with CC-BY articles. Most articles are not OA and ban mining.
If one mines a single CC-NC-SA article then it requires the complete set of
results - even from CC-BY - to become CC-NC-SA. In many cases it is legally
impossible to mix products of different licences.

This argument is similar to - and largely derived from - the copyleft
approach of the GPL software licence. The philosophy behind that is that it
generates a large industry from likeminded software authors. In some
subdisciplines, this has some traction but it effectively cuts out all
commercial use and exploitation. Open source industry uses licences which
map roughly onto CC-BY such as Apache 2.0. Companies who wish to add value
simply avoid GPL and this will be the same in CC-NC (assuming they honour
the licence).

> If I gave away my work and saw that someone else had sold it and kept the
> profits for themselves, I would be MAD. Not only at them - but also at
> anyone who told me that I should give away my work. If I was among those
> who were recently laid off, and I saw someone else profiting off my work, I
> would be REALLY REALLY MAD. Wouldn't you?
> Not at all! I write masses of Open source under BSD-like  licences and
make it available for anyone to use ("give it away"). As a result many
people have re-used it. Some of these are commercial organizations who
incoprate it in their system and sell it. They are meant to credit me and
co-authors - since I do not know who they are I have no way of checking.
They do not make their system available to me - this is consistent with the
philosophy of Open Source. Some are commercial organizations who do make it
availableand I can use their additions.

In Open Source community (and many of those don't have permanent jobs) it's
standard to use BSD-like licences. There is only one group using GPL
(SA-like) and that's because they have inherited it. They hate it and are
actively working to rewrite the whole system.

Publishers also need resources in order to produce work, whether this is
> paid, volunteer, or in-kind. There are some areas where funding is generous
> and full support for OA via article processing fees may well be feasible.
> However, in many scholarly areas funding is much less generous, and
> publishers may NEED to reserve commercial rights. Even with the well-funded
> areas, if publishers develop hybrid revenue streams by reserving commercial
> rights, that might well make it possible to offer more affordable article
> processing fees to academia.
> I agree that there are many people disadvantaged by APC processing charges
(including myself in the future). This is a problem that the community has
to address - how we move from subscription income to author-side income.
It's not going to be easy, but CC-NC-SA has no part in solving it.

> Regarding CC abandoning NC: I am trying to recommend to CC (if I can get
> registered to speak) that they adjust the licenses rather than abandoning
> NC. For example, if there is concern that people are interpreting NC as not
> including educational rights, then add a statement to the NC license along
> the lines of "Education is not commercial".

Please make sure that your read the various critiques of NC very carefully.
"Commercial" includes any act of exchanging goods - like allowing adverts
on the site. Submitting a paper to a journal is an exchange of goods - a
commercial act. The evaluation of what is commercial will be made by a
court by reading the licence and applying the laws of the appropriate
domains. If Mike Carroll who wrote the SPARC author addendum is strongly
arguing against NC then think very carefully.

> Not only would this improve the NC license, in the long term I believe
> that this will add to support for good overall copyright licensing on an
> international level, as education should be understood as noncommercial,
> period. If CC abandons NC, I would have to abandon CC. (I would like to
> note that I am a strong supporter of CC today - I speak out for CC, use the
> licenses, encourage others to do so, and contribute to the annual donation
> campaign).

Almost all education is commercial. Student pay fees - that is a commercial
transaction. Do not confuse "commercial" with "non-profit" or attempt to
read the motivation of the author. The last two are irrelevant in most

A licence is a legal document. The software industry (which is ahead of
publishing) learnt that it is extremely dangerous to try to tweak licences.
huge amounts of effort have gone into licence creation.

> While we are on the topic of CC licensing, some comments about the other
> elements:
> SA: this is necessary to ensure that authors, their publishers and
> institutions, who give away their works have access to derivatives built on
> them. This is not just a third-world problem. I hear that there have been
> severe funding cuts to higher education even in the UK.

My analysis is that SA will primarily act to reduce the size of the
downstream activity, not to return wealth-producing goods and services to
the author.  Derivatives do not return wealth. As for non-SA derivatives
the licence allows anyone to exploit the derivatives - there is no monopoly
for the original author.

> Noderivatives: there are valid scholarly reasons why noderivatives may
> sometimes be a superior license. One example is the area at the boundary of
> pharmacology and toxicology. Here, relying on an imperfect translation
> could kill people. Another is that in some scholarly areas, such as
> literature and art, creative expression is the very heart of the
> scholarship. It strikes me that many scholars would be more likely to share
> their work if they felt comfortable that they had the right to insist on no
> derivatives.

I have sympathy with this, having tried to use licences myself to control
such derivatives and moved away from this approach. Licences are too
imprecise to control downstream use. In the case you mention, certification
is an appropriate mechanism.  A community creates norms of practice and
requires practioners to use particular artifacts.

> I hope this message gets through to the list - my last two messages to the
> open science list don't seem to have gone through.
> It's got through to me!

I understand your position - it may be that for certain disciplines
something can be made to work. The University of Iowa made theses Open
CC-BY and the students in Creative Writing protested as they c/would lose
income. The University reversed its policy - for all disciplines - so that
the science theses are no longer Open.

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