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

Chris Rusbridge c.rusbridge at googlemail.com
Mon Dec 12 12:05:02 UTC 2011

Hello, this is a great discussion. I've been reading subsequent posts, but I've returned to this one to make my comment, not because I agree or disagree with Heather, but because it has the pertinent point I want to respond to. This does NOT directly address the narrow niche of scholarly journals, although it does touch on it a bit at the end. I'm afraid my evidence is equivocal in this debate!

I used to be Director of the Digital Curation Centre (http://dcc.ac.uk) before I retired. Very early on we established two things: we wanted to make our work open, and we were required by the terms of our grant to move towards being self-supporting. After some thought we adopted the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial ShareAlike-licence 2.5 Scotland (see http://www.dcc.ac.uk/about-us/terms-use/copyright-use-liability). It seemed right as we needed to reserve the right to charge someone for the work if they were going to make money from it.

I wanted every page to have this licence in a footer as a default. There we hit our first snag; we were often quoting or even republishing the content of others, and this content was often not CC. We couldn't work out how to do this consistently at reasonable cost. Annoying (and a bit of a muddle after a good start), but it does illustrate that unless you take some significant steps early on, there can be problems.

Did it work? Ie, did others feel able to re-use our work on the one hand? And did we earn any revenue on the other?

As far as I can tell, the DCC's work has been widely re-used. We were and the DCC probably still is pretty liberal as to what we considered commercial, so many of the activities that Peter M-R talks about we would have been happy to accept. But you would have had to ask, which rules out automated use.

At one point we employed a consultant, who later wanted to write a text book on digital curation, based partly on work he had done for us, partly on other work we had done, and partly on other work he had done. And of course, he was doing the hard work of writing the book (and clearing the copyrights; what DO publishers do for book authors?). This caused great controversy in the team, with a wide variety of quite strong opinions aired. In the end we negotiated a deal whereby the author would credit the DCC as an important source, retain all of the first part of the royalties, and the DCC would share royalties above that minimum level. By the time I left last year, the DCC had not earned any income from this source, and I was rather sceptical that we ever would.

What's the point of this story? Two that I wanted to make:

- first, a NC licence does not exclude uses of the work that might be classed as commercial. It just means you have to ask and agree the terms. Many content providers will be willing to agree (but clearly not all). Unfortunately this process is not automatable.

- second, locking material away under any kind of licence designed to earn money does not mean that it will actually do so. In other words, CC-NC often does not add much to your financial sustainability.

Over the years I have come to favour the simpler CC-BY licence, and that is what I use on my blog (and hereby apply to this post) and require from my blog commenters. But I do have the luxury of not supporting myself directly from my writing. Authors of most scholarly articles are also in that category in respect of those articles. I'm keen on CC-BY in those cases, too.

But, I have also been the editor of an Open Access journal (IJDC), one which charges zero author fees. I've got a pretty good idea of how much work is required to make a scholarly journal happen. It's non-trivial, and it's difficult to see where the resources would come from if the DCC or UKOLN were not able to provide them.

Chris Rusbridge
Mobile: +44 791 7423828
Email: c.rusbridge at gmail.com
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On 11 Dec 2011, at 17:08, Heather Morrison wrote:

> Some further thoughts on CC licenses and open access:
> Scholars need and want to disseminate their work, and for others to build on it. Open access is awesome for that. However, scholars are also human beings who need food and shelter. Peter Murray-Rust, may I assume  that you have a secure, tenured position and financial security for your retirement? If so, this is great, but you should be aware that this not true for an increasing percentage of scholars today. In the U.S., for example, my understanding is that 75% of courses are now taught by sessionals.
> From the American Association of University Professors FAQ, here are some of measures being taken to address the financial crisis in academia: "hiring and salary freezes, furloughs, salary cuts, layoffs, nonrenewals, reduction and elimination of academic programs and colleges, revision of curricula, changes in academic policy, elimination of tenure, substantial changes in workload"...
> http://www.aaup.org/aaup/financial/mainpage.htm
> As a personal story, lack of financial security is one of the reasons why I use CC-NC. The vast majority of my own work is not funded at all. This is increasingly common in the social sciences and humanities. There could be a point in time where I might have good reason to want to try to sell some of my work, to pay my rent and grocery bills. Not that I personally am that important, but the measures mentioned above indicate that I have plenty of company. Like most scholars and publishers, I am the 99%.
> 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?
> 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.
> 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". 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).
> 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.
> 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 hope this message gets through to the list - my last two messages to the open science list don't seem to have gone through.
> best,
> Heather Morrison, MLIS
> Doctoral Candidate, Simon Fraser University School of Communication
> http://pages.cmns.sfu.ca/heather-morrison/
> The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics
> http://poeticeconomics.blogspot.com
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