Can Fair Dealing/Use Rights be Signed Away?

I’ve started negotiating contracts/licenses for journals subscriptions and ebooks with vendors over the last couple years and it’s been pretty fascinating in a very frustrating way. Vendors really do try and stifle Fair Dealing/Use whenever they can. They place restrictive limits how individual articles can be shared, on text and data mining capabilities, on the ability to download sections from eBooks, and restrictions when it comes to inter-library loan  (ILL) provisions (Some vendors still limit ILL capabilities so that article requests from other libraries can only be fulfilled via fax or only for libraries that are located in your country. So much for a digital, interconnected world).

Worst part about these restrictions on Fair Dealing/Use (FD) is that that vendors squeeze them in via legal jargon wherever they can in the license. Some larger academic libraries have lawyers who can navigate this jargon, but most research libraries don’t have this option. The Library Community has attempted to solve this problem by designing model licences that other libraries can use. e.g. LibLicense,  CRKN.  These licenses have jargon that allows for expansive FD but, more importantly, they often have a statement that makes it explicitly clear that nothing in the license trumps the FD rights given by a countries’ Copyright Act.Continue reading “Can Fair Dealing/Use Rights be Signed Away?”

Open Access and MEDLINE

MEDLINE is likely the most important scholarly  abstract and indexing database of journals we have. It is a collection of critical evaluated and rigorously cataloged medical journals maintained by the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM). The high-level journals within it are indexed with the NLM’s Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) and widely used when creating health policies or making key medical decisions.

MEDLINE is available for free via the larger database, PubMed, but it’s important to note that MEDLINE ≠ PubMed. In the last couple weeks, there have been some important discussions about questionable journals getting indexed in PubMed. MEDLINE has been free of these concerns because of the rigorous evaluation it’s journals must go through. It is one of the better Whitelists for authors trying to avoid publishing in predatory journals.

If you’re a medical/health researcher and you want your research to have an impact – to truly make science and healthcare better – publishing in a Open Access MEDLINE Journal is one of the best ways to do this. Unfortunately, there is no way to find which of your prospective journals are Open Access and indexed MEDLINE without going through them one by one.

This seemed like a relatively easy problem to solve. Below is my attempt.Continue reading “Open Access and MEDLINE”

Bronze and Delayed Open Access: What can we do about these?

If you haven’t yet taken a look at this recent PeerJ Preprint entitled “The State of OA: A large-scale analysis of the prevalence and impact of Open Access articles” it is worth a read.

Among the more interesting findings was that for 2015 the percentage of open access papers is now at 45%. A pretty shocking percentage that will have some important implications for librarians and library budgets. In the words of advice to librarians by of one of the paper’s authors, Heather Piwowar: “Use this data to negotiate with publishers: Half the literature is free. Don’t pay full price for it.”Continue reading “Bronze and Delayed Open Access: What can we do about these?”

Access vs York: Fair Dealing is for everybody

The recent Canadian Federal Court ruling against York University and for Access Copyright has frustrated universities, librarians, and students while delighting publishers and authors. As a member of the former group, I am also annoyed and confused by this ruling that appears to directly contradict previous rulings by the Supreme Court (see Di Valentino and others).

I don’t want to dive into the exact problems with the ruling. Smarter people than me have done that it the last link. What I want to talk about is why this divide between users (universities, librarians, students) and creators (publishers, authors) has formed around fair dealing.Continue reading “Access vs York: Fair Dealing is for everybody”

The problem with using cost-per use analysis to justify journal subscriptions

There have been two widely shared articles lately that have had some interesting statements about journal usage numbers being misleading.

From The Scholarly Kitchen –  When the Wolf Finally Arrives: Big Deal Cancelations in North American Libraries

Many libraries seem to have found that demand for the content included in their Big Deals — even what they thought was “core” content — was not nearly as robust as they had believed it to be based on usage data that had been provided by the publishers.

This Nature News article on the ongoing licence struggle between Elsevier and German Universities – German scientists regain access to Elsevier journals

The loss of access to Elsevier content didn’t overly disturb academic routines, researchers say, because they found other ways to get papers they needed, or because Elsevier journals happened not to be of prime importance in their fields

In a number of cases now, subscriptions to scholarly journals that appear to be well used turn out not to be unnecessary subscriptions. What is going on here? Librarians have the usage data for these journals. The numbers! The undeniable evidence that there was a use or view! How can these be misleading? Continue reading “The problem with using cost-per use analysis to justify journal subscriptions”

DVD fee a barrier for library users at the Winnipeg Public Library

The following article I wrote was published by the Winnipeg Free Press on May 17th, 2017. 

When I mention to my friends it’s frustrating the Winnipeg Public Library (WPL) charges a fee for DVD loans, I’m always surprised by the response: “Wait, you mean other public libraries don’t charge for DVD Loans?”

Unfortunately, Winnipeg is a glaring exception to the practices of similar libraries. A look through the policies of other public libraries shows it is the only major library system in Canada that charges for borrowing regular material. In fact, most provincial Public Library Acts forbid their public libraries from charging patrons for borrowing material.Continue reading “DVD fee a barrier for library users at the Winnipeg Public Library”

What is going on with the number of Open Access Journals indexed in Elsevier’s Scopus?

Here is a table of the minimum number full/gold open access journals that Scopus has claimed to index for each month in the last year. This is taken right from the archived Scopus Content page from the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine. (Missing months are because the page wasn’t archived that month).

Date (Based on Web Archived Dates) Minimum OA Journals Indexed
January 21, 2016 3,800
From February 15, 2016 to January 3, 2017 4,200
February 1, 2017 4,470
February 19, 2017[Most recent archived page] 3,476
May 5, 2017 [Date of this blog post] 3,476

From these numbers it looks like Scopus added around 400 open access journals after January 2016, then another 270 after January 2017, and finally removed around 1,000 after February 1st, 2017.

Removing around 1,000 open access journals is big deal. That’s almost a quarter of all the open access journals Scopus has in their collection. Why didn’t we hear anything about this mass removal of open access journals? Why didn’t Scopus put out a press release? Removing this many open access journals from one of the top research tools should not be treated lightly.Continue reading “What is going on with the number of Open Access Journals indexed in Elsevier’s Scopus?”

How to talk about “Predatory” Publishing: Reclaiming the Narrative

A few weeks ago someone urgently shared on the Summon ListServ that a keyword search for the word “Transgender” on Summon produced a obscene and pseudo-science article as the first search result. The community immediately echoed this frustration when many of them discovered they got the same result.

Summon, echoing the community’s outrage,  immediately scrambled to get this article removed from their search results and reached out to the Vendor hosting this article to see if they could remove it from their end as well (Summon aggregates its search results from a knowledge base of resources hosted by third-parties). This Vendor quickly responded that they were shocked how this Predatory Journal managed to get through their indexing process and that they would remove it from their database completely.

Algorithmic bias and its affect on search terms is a serious issue. It’s frustrating how these incidents keep happening with our search tools and terrifying to think about the affect these kind of findings have on our users.

There is a lot happening in this situation that would benefit from a critical analysis (e.g. Who is more responsible here? The librarians who activated it this resource? The search tool provider? The Vendor? The Journal?), but I just want to focus on one particular bit for this blog post. Namely, that the Vendor immediately responded to this problem by calling the journal predatory.

You see, I don’t think this journal is predatory. Yes, this article and others published by this journal are mostly offensive, incorrect, and non-scientific. However, this is because this is a bad publisher, not a predatory one.

Continue reading “How to talk about “Predatory” Publishing: Reclaiming the Narrative”

Protect Fair Dealing – Canada’s Upcoming Copyright Act Review

I’m starting to get a little worried. The Canadian Government is set to review the Copyright Act at the end of 2017 and it looks like – despite a large number of evidence-based court rulings supporting it – that there is a chance that the user right of fair dealing might be severely limited.

Most recently we’ve seen a column in the Globe and Mail arguing that Fair Dealing encourages piracy and takes revenue away from writers. Before this there was a Public Policy Report, Shattered Mirror, about we can help news media survive in the digital age. This report recommended tightening fair dealing provisions in favour of creators. Before that there was an Open Letter to Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly from the who’s who of Canadian writers, artists, and publishers, who (rightful) ask for more funding and support from the Government. While they don’t make any direct claims about how this support can be provided, they do strongly hint that the Copyright Act Review can be used to change the act to “divert the flow of revenue back to the hands of the idea generators”. The Copyright Act is a balance between users and creators. Money money to creators will be at the expense of user rights like Fair Dealing.

Continue reading “Protect Fair Dealing – Canada’s Upcoming Copyright Act Review”