OA

Colombian student Diego Gomez is going to trial for sharing a research article online

Timothy Vollmer, June 29th, 2015

Last year several organizations highlighted the situation of Colombian graduate student Diego Gomez, who had a criminal complaint filed against him for sharing a research article online. Gomez is a student in conservation and wildlife management, and for the most part has poor access to many of the resources and databases that would help him conduct his research. He shared an academic paper on Scribd so that he and others could access it for their work. If convicted, Diego could face a prison term of 4-8 years. Gomez will appear in court on June 30.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation sums up Diego’s situation well:

He posted the paper online because he was excited that he found it, because he wanted to share that knowledge with others who shared his passion. Copyright should not turn students like Gomez into criminals for reveling in their quest for knowledge nor for helping others to do the same.

As Gomez goes to trial this week, we must ask again: why are we prosecuting students for sharing knowledge? We know that this type of draconian leveraging of copyright law is not uncommon. From suing a student for downloading scholarly journal articles to issuing a takedown of a dancing baby video to pushing through secret international trade agreements that will extend the term of copyright and harm the public and the commons, large rights holders organizations continue to wield copyright law to punish those who attempt to do what comes naturally for them–sharing.

At the same time, with the dedicated work of individuals and organizations advocating for a sensible balance to copyright, there is hope that laws, regulations, and norms can be changed to support users and the public interest. For example, universities are adopting open access policies that preserve and make accessible the research of their faculty. The copyright reform debate in Europe has finally dropped a potentially dangerous provision that would have permitted rights holders to control how linking operates on the web. And WIPO adopted a treaty to increase global access to copyright-protected materials for the blind and visually impaired.

You can read what Diego has to say about his upcoming trial at Fundación Karisma. Fundación Karisma is the Colombian digital rights advocacy organization that is providing legal support to Gomez. And you can take action now to support Diego by signing the global declaration promoting open access to research.

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Image by EFF / CC BY.

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University of California adopts system-wide open access policy

Timothy Vollmer, August 2nd, 2013

Today the University of California (UC) Academic Senate announced the adoption of a system-wide open access policy for future research articles generated by UC faculty. The articles will be made publicly available for free via UC’s eScholarship repository.

According to the press release, the University of California open access policy will cover 8,000 faculty who author approximately 40,000 articles each year. From the UC statement:

By granting a license to the University of California prior to any contractual arrangement with publishers, faculty members can now make their research widely and publicly available, re-use it for various purposes, or modify it for future research publications. Previously, publishers had sole control of the distribution of these articles.

It appears that authors will have the option of depositing their articles under open licenses, such as Creative Commons licenses. The FAQ says,

Uses of the article are governed by the copyright license under which it is distributed, and faculty authors choose which license to use at the point of deposit. Faculty members may choose to restrict commercial re-use by choosing a Creative Commons license with a “Non Commercial” (NC) restriction when they deposit their article; or they may choose to allow it by choosing a license like the “Attribution only” license (CC BY). If no license is specified, a non-commercial license will be used by default.

Faculty are also able to opt-out of the policy on a per-article basis, which may limit the effectiveness of the policy overall if opt-outs become commonplace.

The UC policy builds on existing open access policies in California, such as the one at UCSF. Here’s a link the full text of the policy. Congratulations to UC for passing this policy, and we hope that faculty will embrace sharing research articles under open licenses.

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California Pushes for Public Access to Taxpayer Funded Research

Timothy Vollmer, April 25th, 2013

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As we mentioned last week, California has introduced AB 609, the California Taxpayer Access to Publicly Funded Research Act. The bill, sponsored by Assembly Member Brian Nestande, would require that research articles funded through California tax dollars be made available online for free no later than 12 months after publication in a peer-reviewed journal. A letter from the University of California may have prompted the Assembly to modify the text of the draft bill to extend the embargo to 12 months (instead of six), and to include a provision exempting the University of California and California State University from the state agencies that must comply with the legislation, if enacted.

A group of organizations (including Creative Commons) sent a letter to Assembly Member Nestande thanking him for introducing the bill. The letter urged the Assembly to considering strengthening the proposed law by including reuse rights language, such as through the adoption of open licenses:

We encourage you to consider strengthening this legislation by including a provision to ensure that manuscripts reporting on state-funded research be made fully usable by the public. To fully unlock the value of the information contained in these digital articles, they should be made available in formats and under licensing terms that permit users to read, downloaded, search, compute on, data mine or analyze for any lawful purpose.

It also asked for the original 6 month embargo to be reinstated:

Additionally, while we would strongly prefer that these articles be made available to the public immediately upon publication, we would support the inclusion of an embargo period as originally proposed of no longer than six months.

A hearing in the Committee on Accountability and Administrative Review is scheduled for May 1 in Sacramento.

California residents can support the legislation by sending a message to representatives at the Alliance for Taxpayer Access site. More information on the bill is available on the SPARC website.

California icon by Christopher Scott, from the Noun Project, under CC BY.
Unlock icon by J. Ali, from the Noun Project, Public Domain.

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Clarifications about CC BY in the UK Open Access Policy

Timothy Vollmer, February 8th, 2013

In the UK, the House of Commons has asked for feedback on their Open Access Policy. One provision of that policy requires that articles funded through the Research Councils UK (RCUK) must be released under a CC BY license. Last year, CC submitted a short comment in support.

And just last month, the House of Lords completed a consultation period which has generated some misinformation about how the CC BY license operates. So, in order to clarify some of these misconceptions, Creative Commons and Creative Commons UK submitted a joint response to the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee to set the record straight.

We’ve pulled together some clarifications to some of the uncertainty lobbed at the CC BY license provision in the Open Access Policy. Some of the reasons given that CC BY should not be retained include:

  • it would promote “misuse of research or would cause authors to “lose control of their work”
  • third party rights negotiations for content that authors wish to include within an openly licensed article would prove too difficult
  • open licensing provides less protection against plagiarism
  • CC BY is not widely used in OA publishing
  • authors should choose licensing conditions, not funders

These claims are confusing, misguided, or not backed up by evidence. We offer our responses and support here.

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Celebrate Open Access Week with CC

Elliot Harmon, October 18th, 2012

Next week, Creative Commons will be joining individuals, institutions, and publishers all over the world in celebrating Open Access Week. Find out where you can find Creative Commons and its affiliates during OA Week, and share your own OA events in the comments.

Open Access Week 2012 Kickoff Webcast

On Monday, CC founding board member Michael Carroll will be speaking at the open access week kickoff event hosted by SPARC and the World Bank.

Webinar: Creative Commons and the Future of Open Access

On Tuesday, CC education technology and policy coordinator Greg Grossmeier will be speaking about CC licensing for open access publishing in a webinar hosted by the University of Northern Colorado Center for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning.

Open Data and Open Access Panel

If you’re in Northern California on Wednesday, join CC policy and data manager Timothy Vollmer, UC Davis university librarian and CC Science advisor MacKenzie Smith, and California Digital Library’s Carly Strasser for a discussion on advancements in open access and open data at UC Davis.

CC New Zealand Guest Blog Series

Courtesy of CC Aotearoa New Zealand, here’s a great collection of perspectives from thought leaders on the open access landscape in New Zealand.

Connecting the Dots Between Open Access and Open Educational Resources

Watch an archived discussion hosted by SPARC, with CC director of global learning Cable Green and Student Public Interest Research Groups’ Nicole Allen.

New Open Access Resources

Open Access Wikipedia Challenge
In this new School of Open challenge, learn how to reuse open access content to improve a Wikipedia article.

HowOpenIsIt?
PLOS, SPARC, and OASPA have just released the first iteration of a great reference guide for understanding open access standards. Timothy recently wrote about the guide for the PLOS blog.

Good Practices for University Open-Access Policies
Our friends at the Harvard Open Access Project have written a new guide for universities considering OA policies.

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