Lawrence Lessig lawsuit

Fair use got a win with Lawrence Lessig’s lawsuit against an Australian record label. Lessig used clips of a song by Phoenix in a lecture that was posted on YouTube. Liberation Music, the label representing Phoenix, issued a take-down notice for the lecture and then threatened to sue when Lessig fought back against the notice. The settlement requires Liberation Music to pay Lessig for harm caused and has resulted in a new take-down policy for Liberation Music.

For more information on this lawsuit:

Royal Society launching OA journal

The Royal Society of London will launch a new open access journal this fall, Royal Society Open Science (RSOS). RSOS will operate similarly to PLoS One, meaning it will publish research in all areas of science and mathematics and will base peer review on quality of the research, not novelty of the subject.

For more information about this journal, see this article from The Guardian

Cultural Anthropology Journal goes OA

The Society for Cultural Anthropology (SCA) recently announced that their flagship publication, Cultural Anthropology, would be going open access (OA). Their parent organization, the American Anthropological Association (AAA) had negotiated with Wiley-Blackwell to allow the SCA to become OA even though AAA has a publishing contract with Wiley-Blackwell that runs through 2017.

This is an exciting opportunity for members of SCA and readers of Cultural Anthropology – both current readers and the many future readers who will be able access their material for the first time.

See the announcement from SCA:

Economics of the Scholarly Communication Ecosystem

On January 31st, we had a discussion that was open to all library staff about the Economics of the Scholarly Communication Ecosystem. Those of us in the Open Access Group had been reading about the economics behind open access (OA) publishing, traditional, toll-access publishing, and hybrid publishing. We hoped the discussion would be a forum for us to share what we’d learned and hear from participants about their thoughts on the issue.

Here are some of the highlights of the discussion:

  • While the literature we (OA Group) had read indicated that switching to a system that pays for publishing services (Article Processing Charges, APCs) rather than paying for access would be much cheaper for libraries, some participants said they had read literature indicating that for research universities, the cost would be higher.
  • This brought up the issue of funding agencies paying for some APCs, so that universities and libraries wouldn’t be responsible for paying all APCs for their authors.
  • Of course, these discussions assumed a complete switch to open access publishing, but that isn’t the reality. There was much discussion around how we cope with the current transitional system we are in – most journals still charge a subscription fee (even if they also offer hybrid OA), while some journals are open access (both free and with fees for publishing).
  • We discussed the OA funds that some university libraries are making available to faculty at their institutions. Most of these funds are small in size (less than 100k), are available only to those people who do not have grant funding available to pay APCs, and cannot be used for hybrid-OA.
  • One participant asked if there had been much discussion in the library about which route to OA librarians preferred. We talked briefly about some of the pros and cons of green-OA vs. gold-OA. This is certainly a topic that could use further discussion.
  • There was some frustration expressed with the fact that we’ve been talking about OA for 20+ years now and we still have much the same system as we did in 1994. While there are some very successful OA journals, many of the OA journals that started up during that time have since folded.
  • Some of the collaborative efforts discussed included SCOAP3, the Compact for OA Publishing Equity, and SHARE.
  • One interesting topic brought up was a concern that universities (and the legislatures that fund public universities) do not truly understand what it means to be a public good. This lack of understanding coupled with very high costs for access to information and a transitional scholarly communication environment could lead administrators to pull funding away from the library – similar to what happened with many university presses.

While this was a great opportunity for us all to talk about the issues facing us right now, there is still much we didn’t get a chance to discuss. We hope to have discussions on other topics in the future.

Our reading list is available here.

Omnibus Appropriations Bill improves public access to research

The Omnibus Appropriations Bill that was recently passed by Congress, included a provision that will greatly improve access to taxpayer-funded research. Under the bill, federal agencies (with research budgets more than $100 million per year) within Labor, Health, and Human Services and Education will be required to provide the public with online access to articles funded by that research no later than 12 months after publication.

For more information, see the SPARC announcement:

The Simpsons teach us about copyright

I was getting caught up on my Hulu backlog and found a very funny episode from the Simpsons about movie piracy and copyright infringement. It does a good job of poking fun at the extreme lengths Hollywood (and our government) will go to protect the profits from the movies they make. The Simpsons writers have a good time pointing out the ridiculousness of our copyright system, but don’t go so far as to put a CC license on the episode. Enjoy!

Steal this Episode and if the link becomes inactive, here’s the Wikipedia article about this episode:

Public Domain Day

January 1st of every year is Public Domain Day. This is a day to celebrate the items that have entered the public domain. In the United States, we’ll have nothing to celebrate this year, as nothing will enter the public domain until 2019. That is because the 1976 Copyright Act changed the terms of copyright to 70 years after the author’s death or 95 years after publication for corporate works. This means the items that would have become public domain on January 1st, 2014 under the previous copyright act, won’t enter the public domain until 2053.

Duke University’s, Center for the Study of the Public Domain has a great site on this topic:

SCOAP3 starting January 1st

SCOAP3 will start operations on January 1st, 2014. SCOAP3 is a partnership among libraries, funding agencies, and research centers.  SCOAP3 works with publishers to make key journals in high energy physics open access. Partners of SCOAP3 pay into a central fund that is then used to pay the publishers for the costs involved in publishing, thereby allowing them to make their journals open access.

SCOAP3 website:

Posting articles online

Faculty and researchers have a long practice of sharing their published articles. For a long time this was done through personal requests – via mail, telephone, and email – but for the past ten to fifteen years, faculty have been posting copies of their journal articles on either personal webpages or on sites like

Posting PDF versions of articles online for anyone to access is frequently in violation of the copyright transfer agreements that authors sign when their article is published. While publishers may issue take-down notices in certain situations, there hasn’t been a wholesale effort on the part of publishers to remove “free” versions of published articles.

Recently, Elsevier took issue with the posting of articles from their journals to the site They have started issuing take down notices by the thousands to Scholars affected by this take-down spree have received emails from notifying them of the removal of their work from the site. While this may be a short-term solution to freely accessible copies of articles circulating around the Internet, it may end up backfiring on Elsevier by educating authors about the restrictive copyright transfer agreements authors are asked to sign. Some authors may choose to publish their work elsewhere to maintain more control over the work they created.

For more information, see this recent article in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

OA Button

Two students and a volunteer team of programmers and designers recently unveiled the Open Access Button. The OA Button is a browser-based tool that allows people to report when they’ve run into a paywall while trying to access material online. The OA Button is very easy to use. You simply add it to your browser and then click on it when you hit a paywall. You answer a few questions about the item you were trying to access and your information is added to a map showing paywall problems around the world. The tool will then try to help you find your article using Google Scholar. The OA Button is a great visual representation of the access problem many of us have been talking about for over a decade.

Article in The Guardian about the OA Button:

OA Button: