Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Open Access continued....

What I omitted to say the other day when I posted about Peter Suber’s Open Access Overview was that I found it really useful. I learnt a lot, confirmed a lot and am very grateful to Peter for producing it.

I had only two queries about what was written. The first was from the third paragraph which started “The legal basis of OA is either the consent of the copyright holder or the public domain, usually the former.” This went on to say that:

“Because OA uses copyright-holder consent, or the expiration of copyright, it does not require the abolition, reform, or infringement of copyright law.”

Or does it? I agree with Peter to a great extent but I also think we must remember the difficulties that can arise in establishing ownership of copyright whether that is in case of multiple contributors, academic/university produced works, funder requirements or orphan works. In my view reform in this area would be helpful to the OA cause.

What do you think?

The other area was in the paragraph about OA serving the interests of many groups. I was particularly interested in the funding agencies part of this and pleased to see that Peter had identified two benefits for them. The description went as follows:

“Funding agencies: OA increases the return on their investment in research, making the results of the funded research more widely available, more discoverable, more retrievable, and more useful. OA serves public funding agencies in a second way as well, by providing public access to the results of publicly-funded research.”

I’m very possibly missing something but aren’t these two the same thing? I’d be ever so grateful if someone could point out anything I’m missing.


Peter Suber said...

Thanks for your kinds words about my overview. Two quick responses to your two questions:

(1) I agree with you that copyright reforms could help. My point in the overview is that we can achieve both green and gold OA without waiting for those reforms. They are not required.

(2) There's a slight difference between the two benefits. We could achieve the first benefit without the second simply by improving access among professional researchers, rather than the whole public. The second benefit not only extends the first, but also (in the special case of public funding agencies) serves the agency's ultimate constituents and gives something back to the taxpayers who paid for the research.


Mags McGeever said...

Hiya Peter,

Thanks a lot for the clarification. Most appreciated.