Re: Copyright retention is not a prerequisite for self-archiving

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Sun, 12 Mar 2006 02:26:42 +0000

On Fri, 10 Mar 2006, Charles Oppenheim wrote:

> Sorry, but copyright IS important.

I agree. I didn't say copyright is unimportant. I said:

    Copyright retention is not a prerequisite for self-archiving

> There are debates as to who owns the copyright in research output,
> and some institutions insist they own the copyright, not the individual
> researcher, and in other cases, researchers have (arguably foolishly)
> assigned the copyright to the publisher, and under those circumstances,
> they have no rights to self-archive unless the publisher grants them
> this right back again.

Retaining copyright is one matter, OA self-archiving is another.

For OA self-archiving, 68% of the c. 8800 journals registered in Romeo
(including just about all the principal international journals) have
already given their authors their official blessing to self-archive the
postprint and 25% more for the preprint. So for about 93% of articles,
copyright retention would not only be redundant but an unnecessary further
burden on authors that are mostly still sluggish about self-archiving
at all today. We need to lighten their load, not weigh it down with the
vagaries of the remaining 7%.

With the remaining 7% the author has the choice of (1) using the
Oppenheim/Harnad strategy (remember?) or (2) simply depositing the
postprint (author's final revised, accepted draft) and its metadata, but
setting access privileges for the postprint as "Restricted" instead of
Open Access. For that 7%, (3) the author emailing the eprint individually
to eprint-requesters can fill the gap until either the publisher embargo
expires or the author tires of doing the extra keystrokes, (4) sets the
article's access privileges to OA, and waits to hear if there is ever any
request from the publisher to remove it. The authors of over a quarter
million physics articles have been doing (4) straight away since 1991,
without troubling their heads about other "important" matters, with only
4 removals that even mention copyright in giving the reason:

> There is a lively debate in copyright circles on these matters, and
> they cannot be brushed aside as irrelevant.

Copyright circles are not OA circles, most copyright content is not
OA target content, and most copyright issues concern 3rd party fair
use and re-use (or piracy) issues, not 1st-party (i.e., author) give-away.

And that debate indeed can and should be brushed aside as irrelevant
in this special case: OA self-archiving of authors' own final drafts
of give-away journal articles, published for impact, not for income
(particularly with 93% of journals having already brushed it aside too!).

> I know Stevan gets frustrated when all sorts of (to him trivial)
> objections are raised to his master plans, but in the real world they
> need to be addressed.

The problem with these objections is not so much that they are trivial
(though they are), but that they are systematically irrelevant. And
what is taking so long (though it is undeniably succeeding, if far
too slowly) is to get well-meaning people to realize, at long-last,
that these objections are indeed irrelevant, and that they are being
unwittingly (and sometimes obtusely) imported from where they *are*
relevant (3rd-party fair-use and re-use issues) to where they are not (1st
party -- i.e. author/creator -- giveaways), without ever twigging on the
fundamental difference. I leave it to social historians to sort out why
it took so absurdly long for the token to drop in so many people's minds
about that; I'm far more concerned with getting to 100% OA self-archiving
without any further gratuitous delay -- and employer/funder mandates
are clearly the way.

> "Publishing" in law means making available to the public (whether for a fee
> or not) a copy of the item on demand. Putting an item in an OA archive is
> therefore publishing. It may not be publishing in terms of the publishing
> industry, but it is still publishing!

(1) What is "the item"? The author's unrefereed preprint? Various
corrected updates? The final, refereed corrected draft? or the
publisher's PDF?

(2) So I am publishing my paper every time I give someone a typescript
of it? When I read it aloud? If someone tapes me or takes notes when I
read aloud?

But these are precisely the copyright koans that the self-archiving
give-away author of peer-reviewed research articles need not get
drawn into at all if his publisher has already given self-archiving his
green light (as 93% of journals have done). And the second most sensible
strategy for that remaining 7% of articles is to deposit the full-text and
metadata immediately upon acceptance for publication (the preprint even
sooner) and set full-text access to "Restricted Access" (only metadata
are visible) and simply email eprints to eprint requesters (until the
author tires of the second most sensible strategy and adopts the most
sensible strategy, which is setting access to "Open Access" and waiting
to see whether any publisher ever actually requests removal (and why).

The least sensible strategy is to take the time, trouble (and risk of
refusal) of trying to negotiate copyright retention or the retention
of special self-archiving "rights."

Why am I so opposed to recommending this least sensible strategy? Not
because I think copyright retention (or the adoption of a CC license) is
a bad idea. I think it's a terrific idea. I wish everyone would do it,
successfully. But not as a prerequisite for self-archiving! It's not
necessary, and it is simply giving *bad advice* to advise that it is
necessary -- particularly at a time when we need to be lightening,
not increasing, the perceived and actual load on the 85% of researchers
who are still so sluggish about self-archiving.

Deposit mandates will get their sluggish fingers moving. Access-setting
can be left optional (finessing all talk about copyright) and nature
will take care of the rest. But preaching pre-emptive copyright paranoia
just keeps researchers in their current (Zeno's) paralytic state.

Stevan Harnad

PS Please see my next posting, concerning the DGF self-archiving
mandate, which is so close to being optimal, if only it is divested
of its spurious and self-defeating rights retention rigamarole. You
might rightly ask: If I'm for self-archiving mandates, and a mandater
proposes to mandate self-archiving, but thinks that to do that, he
needs to mandate rights-retention too, why don't I just cheer him on
and support mandating both? The answer is that sluggish researchers can
be induced to do keystrokes in their own interests -- just as they can
be induced to put on seat-belts in their own interests -- but they
will rise in revolt if you propose to tamper with their freedom to
publish in whatever journal they choose (a choice that forcing them to
successfully negotiate copyright retention puts them at risk of losing,
whenever they fail). But most of all, it's unnecessary; because 93% of
journals already endorse self-archiving, and restricted access plus eprint
emailing will take care of the rest until nature takes its natural --
and optimal, and inevitable -- course.

PPS Will you now do a posting to say that authors have to
renegotiate rights in order to email eprints too, because that too is
"publication"? (Is that retroactive for mailing reprints too, in paper
days? Did even oral presentations of one's (published) paper violate
some copyright law we ought to have sorted out in advance? Is there any
end to this cornucopia of copyright koans?)

> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Stevan Harnad" <harnad_at_ECS.SOTON.AC.UK>
> Sent: Friday, March 10, 2006 5:19 PM
> Subject: Copyright retention is not a prerequisite for self-archiving
> > On Fri, 10 Mar 2006, Jeffery, KG (Keith) wrote:
> >
> >> For me there are two very important steps:
> >> (a) the need for mandating (else people have - in their opinion -
> >> better things to do with their precious time)
> >> (b) the need to make deposit as easy / quick / foolproof as possible:
> >> for me this means integrating it into the workflow of an institution /
> >> organisation (which as a by-product favours institutional repositories):
> >
> > So far, so good.
> >
> > But now this:
> >
> >> example - if an organisation is to own the IP in a publication it should
> >> approve of its publication (or even pre-publication/deposit); this
> >> implies a workflow where the author requests permission and once granted
> >> deposit is automatic.
> >
> > Where on earth did this "owning the IP in a publication" come from?
> >
> > We are talking about institutional self-archiving of published research
> > articles, in order to maximise their usage and impact, by supplementing
> > paid journal access to the journal's proprietary PDF or print copy (by
> > those users whose institutions can afford it) with free access to the
> > author's own self-archived final draft (for those would-be users whose
> > institutions cannot afford paid access to the journal's proprietary PDF
> > or print copy).
> >
> > We are not talking about copyright retention or renegotiation. (Nothing
> > wrong with it, but that is *not* what OA self-archiving is about! Nor
> > is it by any means a prerequisite for self-archiving).
> >
> > And authors don't need their institutions "approving" of their
> > publication! Mandating that they publish (or perish) is quite enough.
> >
> > And self-archiving a *published* article is not publishing! It is
> > access-provision. That too should be mandated now -- but no further
> > institutional "permission: or "approval" is needed, or wanted.
> >
> >> I know everyone will scream that this is NOT how it is done today, but
> >> in many cases the author at present signs e.g. copyright agreements
> >> without legal entitlement (the organisation likely owns copyright not
> >> the individual depending on the contract of employment).
> >
> > Copyright/IP negotiation is *not* what OA self-archiving in IRs is
> > about. Please, please let us not hold back and complicate self-archiving
> > yet again by wrapping it in irrelevant, unnecessary speculative baggage.
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >> My point is simple; given mandating and easy-to-use workflows we should
> >> get increased deposit. The deposit location is (for me) a less pressing
> >> topic - harvesting will provide access.
> >
> > Yes, the location does not matter in the OAI-compliant age. But
> > institutions can mandate self-archiving by their own researchers in
> > their own IRs for many internal reasons. Central repositories cannot.
> >
> > And research funders help OA far more by reinforcing institutional
> > self-archiving mandates -- by preferentially mandating self-archiving in
> > the fundee's own institutional IR, and only secondarily in a central
> > one, where necessary.
> >
> > Mandated institutional self-archiving can and will tile all of OA space.
> >
> >> I could go on and on about problems with harvesting and repositories and
> >> the need for (structured) research information context... But I won't!
> >
> > If you mandate self-archiving, the rest of the problems will become
> > trivial and will solve themselves naturally. If you instead pre-emptively
> > posit those hypothetical problems as notional obstacle to self-archiving,
> > and you simply potentiate Zeno's Paralysis.
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > Stevan Harnad
> >
> >> -----Original Message-----
> >> From: American Scientist Open Access Forum
> >> Behalf Of Andy Powell
> >> Sent: 09 March 2006 16:35
> >> Subject: Re: Poynder Again on Point on Institutional Repositories
> >>
> >> > A reasonable question, but I think that you'll find that the answer is
> >>
> >> > not a matter of "simply" anything, because evidence is that (left to
> >> > themselves) researchers don't deposit their articles on the web
> >> > either!
> >>
> >> Sure. I'm happy to concede that "simply" doesn't come into it! :-) And
> >> as you say below, the reason for non-deposit is probably more to do with
> >> the lack of mandate than with a particular technical or operational
> >> approach.
> >>
> >> > In an environmental assessment that Jessie Hey and Pauline Simpson
> >> > undertook for the TARDis project, they discovered that most
> >> > departments in Southampton University had some research papers on the
> >> > web, but that these web pages were on average two years out of date.
> >>
> >> Fair enough. But, in the absence of a mandate, there probably isn't
> >> much reason (your department in Southampton and a few others excepted?)
> >> to assume that the situation will be any different in repositories. The
> >> value-added advantages of repositories that you list below may be
> >> sufficient to ensure that they are kept up to date. On the other hand,
> >> they may not.
> >>
> >> In suggesting that we focus on the issue of "making research papers
> >> available on the Web" I'm not necessarily suggesting that we encourage
> >> an unstructured, free for all type approach - just that we use language
> >> that is readily understood and where the primary aim is clear.
> >>
> >> > The web (of itself) does not encourage more self-deposit of research
> >> > papers or data. And why should it? It can be quite an onerous task to
> >> > keep a web site up-to-date.
> >>
> >> Agreed.
> >>
> >> > So whether a Web Page or a Repository you need a mandate to ensure
> >> > that research output is captured. And given a mandate (and hence
> >> > accessible research), the added benefits of a repository over a
> >> > website seem clear - a repository provides a focus for
> >> > interoperability and services, maintenance of documents/data and for
> >> > monitoring policy and practice.
> >>
> >> One could argue that a content management system might achieve the same
> >> aims? (And, as an aside, there is no reason why a content management
> >> system or even a plain old-fashioned Web site can't be made to support
> >> the OAI-PMH, whether or not we decide to call the resulting thing a
> >> 'repository' or not). In fact, at that stage, all one is doing is
> >> disagreeing about the label ('repository' vs. 'content management
> >> system' vs. 'Web server') that one attaches to a service component on
> >> the network. My, somewhat flippant, point is that we might be better to
> >> focus on an aim that everyone can understand ("making stuff openly
> >> available on the Web") rather than getting hung up on a particular
> >> technical or operational mechanism for achieving the aim ("the
> >> repository").
> >>
> >> > And
> >> > through targeted collection of metadata it should provide the
> >> > opportunity for information reuse for all sorts of academic tasks (CV
> >> > building, bibliography lists, administrative returns, RSS feeds etc)
> >> > to provide immediate help to researchers and managers.
> >>
> >> Agreed.
> >>
> >> Consider two approaches to policy makers in funding bodies and/or
> >> institutions:
> >>
> >> "We want you to mandate that all academics make a copy of their research
> >> output freely available on the Web" and further "we suggest that the
> >> best way to achieve this is through the use of an open access
> >> repository".
> >>
> >> "We want you to mandate that all academics deposit a copy of their
> >> research output in an open access repository".
> >>
> >> Which is clearer? I think that the first is, because it emphasises what
> >> is important in a way that everyone can understand. But, perhaps that's
> >> just me - perhaps my use of 'on the Web' is just as open to
> >> mis-interpretation and confusion as 'in a repository'?
> >>
> >> Andy
> >> --
> >> Head of Development, Eduserv Foundation
> >>
> >>
> >> +44 (0)1225 474319
> >>
> >
Received on Sun Mar 12 2006 - 02:30:34 GMT

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Fri Dec 10 2010 - 19:48:15 GMT