[open-science] Academic freedom, work for hire, and who is subsidizing whom?

Heather Morrison heatherm at eln.bc.ca
Tue Dec 13 17:56:58 UTC 2011

While I fully support and advocate for funder open access policies, there are reasons to hesitate about funders insisting on particular licenses.

It should be the author, not the funder and not the publisher, deciding on the terms of the license. That should be the aims of the author's rights movement, and this is the approach that is the best fit with academic freedom - another concept that is in need of support at this point in time.

A limitation of the public funding argument is that in many cases public funding only covers some of the costs. For example, to become a grad student, one must first be a undergrad. There are still places where post-secondary education is fully subsidized, however partial or no subsidies seems to be more common. If a grad student is paying for their undergrad education (or perhaps still carrying debt), as well as paying tuition, while working on a research project, I would argue that it is the grad student who is funding the research. If grad students are to be told how to license their work on the basis that it is "publicly funding", I would advise grad students to say, okay where is the public funding?

If we are saying that the main purpose of this research is to advance commercialization opportunities for the corporate sector, then I would argue that it is the students who are subsidizing the corporate sector.


Heather Morrison, MLIS
Doctoral Candidate, Simon Fraser University School of Communication
The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics

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