We are in a golden age of illegal sports streaming and it’s showing us how copyright infringement can result in better content

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The longer Elsevier refuses to make their citations open, the clearer it becomes that their high profit model makes them anti-open

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Why does Elsevier require an exclusive rights transfer to publish Open Access?

There’s been an ongoing push by those in the open access movement to convince authors and publishers that a copyright transfer is not needed to publish scholarly works. The default in the system still seems to be that authors need to transfer their copyright to publishers and then publishers will grant some ‘author rights’ back to the author so that they can still make use of their works.

Typically publishers will justify this copyright transfer with the following reasons:

  • To protect the copyright of the article. (e.g. Wiley)
  • For a wide dissemination of the article (e.g. Springer)
  • To increase the financial income of the publisher as a trade-off for the services they provided freely to the author. (e.g. Canadian Veterinary Journal)

The issue with these reasons is that all the above could still be accomplished via a license agreement. The author doesn’t need to transfer ownership of their work – their copyright – in order for a publisher to protect it, widely disseminate it, or make a profit off of it. They just need to give the publisher the right to do all these things. With a license agreement authors’ retain copyright, but grant rights to the publisher to use the article in these ways. Continue reading

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Moving from Open Access ‘Centralism’ to Open Access Radicalism

An interesting thought experiment is comparing the Open Access (OA) movement to other current social movements for progressive change, e.g. Black Lives Matter and #MeToo. Like these movements, OA recognizes an injustice in the system and is fighting to make it more inclusive.

Of course, Black Lives Matter and #MeToo are the much more important fights. They are fighting for a specific end result; better lives for discriminated groups, while OA is fighting for a means to an end; OA so that research is better and better research so that people have better lives.

You can see advocacy strategies used within the OA movement have grown out of strategies used by social justice movements. Things like developing more creative ethical (and practical) arguments that can be used to convince others. Advocating for strategic policy changes. Solidarity and community building. Intersectionality. Continue reading

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Let’s all get angry about the Serials Crisis again

Something I’ve noticed lately in scholcomm and open access discussions on social media is a misunderstanding of the Serials Crisis. Typically when it gets referred to it is often interpreted that the ‘crisis’ is the high prices of scholarly publishers. The oligopoly they have and the 30% profit margins they make. This is a piece of the Serial Crisis, but what the Serial Crisis is really about is not the high costs, the dominance of a small number of publishers, or the high profit margins, it is about the rate by which scholarly publishers have increased their prices. I think this is an important distinction and I am going to try and explain why.

The price of serials usually goes up 5% – 6% per year while the rate of inflation is only around 2.5% per year (in the US). This essentially means that while the cost of everything else goes up 2.5% per year, the cost of serials goes up about double that.

This doesn’t seem like that big of deal though right? 2.5% and 5.5% are small percentages. An increase of a couple percentage like this is essentially just a rounding error, right? Continue reading

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Where is the Green in Open Access Big Deals?

Open Access ‘Big Deals’ (also called ‘Read-and-Publish’ agreements) have been a big topic of discussion in the last couple years.

Richard Poynder defines the term nicely:

Here agreements are signed with legacy publishers that combine bulk journal subscription fees (as with traditional Big Deals) plus bulk OA publishing fees so that authors can publish without personally having to pay APCs.

While all the rage in Europe (e.g. Netherlands, Germany, Finland), it’s yet to fully catch on in North America. Most North American Research Libraries are still experimenting with some-sort of APC discount agreement with publishers and so far only one academic institution, MIT Libraries, has attempted the full ‘all-inclusive’ OA Big Deal where authors do not need to pay any APC at all. Continue reading

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The Institutionalized Racism of Scholarly Publishing

In 2002 the African scholarly publisher, Academic Journals, began publishing  peer reviewed journals. By 2011 they had grown to be a considerably sized publisher, publishing 107 journals with more than 220 employees, and having become an important publishing platform for African researchers.

Then disaster struck. They were added to Jeffery Beall’s list of “Potential, possible, or probable predatory scholarly open-access publishers”.

(Beall’s list was taken down in early 2017. You can find an archived version of it via the Internet Archive’s Web Archive)

The impact was immediate. From the About Us section of their website:

Several editors resigned from the various editorial board. The number of manuscript submission declined, including several withdrawals.  This decline was steep and fast, and impacted on our ability to support our team. At the end of the year, under this very difficult condition, Academic journals was forced to downsize the number of employees. Almost half of all members of the team was affected by the downsizing. Over a hundred and twenty employees lost their jobs.

Academic Journals submitted a formal appeal to Beall. He admitted it may have been a bit harsh to add them to his list, but refused to remove them. Academic Journals had no choice but to struggle on. Quoting their website again:

Academic Journals doubts the sincerity of the Jeffrey Beall’s list. We perceive that the list is deliberately biased towards open access journals. In addition, we consider Jeffrey Beall’s methods questionable and lacking in rigor in a matter as important as the evaluation of academic publishing. We welcome a fair, transparent and rigorous evaluation of all our activities.

How crazy is it that you can build a substantial publishing infrastructure on your home continent and then see it decimated by a single man across the ocean who decides to add you to his blacklist? Continue reading

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