[open-science] Open access, scholarship and business

Puneet Kishor punkish at eidesis.org
Mon Dec 12 18:57:22 UTC 2011

On Dec 12, 2011, at 12:30 PM, Heather Morrison wrote:

> In recent decades, we have seen an encroachment of business (both corporations and processes) into the university.

In recent decades? I believe I had to pay for my education one way or another for as long as I remember it. Education is a business, and unprofitable educators should and do go down the tubes.

> To some extent, this is our environment and we need to work within it. However, this is also a challenge to scholarship, 

Why? Just because you say so? As long as the terms of funding don't influence the findings, what exactly is the challenge to scholarship?

> In my area, data about the revenues scholarly publishers gather from our work as scholars is gathered by a company called Outsell, which charges in the range of about $800 - $1,200 for a report. As a scholar, I can't access this, even through my library, even the dollars counted on based on the work of people like me.

If Outsell simply took your work and started reselling it, sure, you could try stop that practice with an NC clause.

However, if Outsell is actually adding some value to your work, they are well within their rights to charge a premium for that value add. If you believe you deserve a cut of that premium, negotiate with Outsell, which NC allows you to do.

Of course, by putting an NC clause, and opening up the possibility of negotiations, you might discourage Outsell from doing anything with your work. In which case neither Outsell nor you are enriched.

> If business benefits from the public funding in scholarship, shouldn't this be a two-way street?

But it *is* already a two way street. Where businesses see a benefit in paying up, they do. They routinely fund scholarships, construction of buildings, endowed chairs, projects, etc. On the other hand, if they can get certain data for free because it is fundamentally free, then they do so. We have satellite imagery collected with public monies that Google's crawlers would download for free, and as much as you might grudge them that, they are entitled to it. The richest corporation in the world has the same right to free data that the poorest sod has.

> Over the past few decades, businesses and those who benefit from them have successfully lobbied in many of our countries to reduce taxes for corporations and those who profit from them. The taxpayer access to publicly funded research argument works for businesses, too, I would argue - but only if they pay their share of taxes.

Look, licensing can't solve the world's problems. It can't make those who shirk from paying taxes pay their share correctly. It can't figure out who is socially responsible and who is not. It can't prevent work that might potentially be harmful to certain species. Well, maybe your own custom license can, but a generic licensing scheme such as CC that applies to a few billion objects on the internet can't be that specific.

If you have causes you want to espouse, insert clauses for them in your own license and be merry. Of course, your custom licensing will likely lead to potentially less uptake of your work, but caveat licensor and all that.

If NC license works for you -- great. Use it. But for most scholarship results, BY seems to offer fewer barriers for downstream uptake. In fact, I would go a step further and say -- screw it, just put it under CC0. Hey, that is exactly what I have started doing with my work.

What's the point of being the person in the cemetery with the most amount of data hoarded up?

Puneet Kishor http://punkish.org
science http://earth-base.org
advocacy http://creativecommons.org

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