This is a parody of a recent blog post over in Elsevier-land by David Tempest. If you haven’t read it yet, you really should – it’s an interesting insight into the mind of the DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF UNIVERSAL ACCESS (their caps-usage, not mine) at Elsevier.
Here’s my remix tribute post, words in blue are my insertions, and
strikethough words are words I’ve chosen to delete because they don’t represent my opinion.
Copyright in an Open Access World
Copyright plays a significant
vital role in the current world of publishing scientific, medical and technical content. It provides commercial publishers authors with a set of ‘rights‘ to enable them to utilize these their works to generate subscription access profits and to be recognized as the copyright holder creator of the work. Commercial publishers are empowered to act on behalf of their shareholders the author to use copyright transfer or exclusive license to copy, publish, and adapt works, whilst protecting their profit margins integrity. In this way, publishers are empowered to do various things on behalf of the author, for example to ensure that the article is paywalled widely disseminated, that all requests for the rights to re-use content are denied and provision of permissions are answered efficiently, and to ensure that the original is correctly attributed. Each month, Elsevier receives more than 10,000 rights and permissions requests for content – both books and journals – and we have developed sophisticated systems to deny facilitate these requests and make the process as awkward, daunting and untimely simple and timely as possible. We take this role very seriously.
The importance of protecting profit generating content
But what about copyright in an open access world? Does it make a difference that articles are being made available to all and should we be concerned? The answer is…well, yes and no.
To all intents and purposes, the fact that journal articles are being made available to all through open access, is a big threat to our current business model
or to subscribers under the subscription model, should not really affect things. Issues can arise, however, as there is a common misperception  that open access means anyone can do anything with an article – in fact, the rights in the content must still be understood and upheld.
In addition, from an editorial perspective, copyright does not prevent elements such as plagiarism, multiple submission and fraud in journal articles.
and whilst is It does not actually help detect these elements, so it cannot act s as a protective measure to uphold the quality of journals.
Within open access publishing there seems to be no
a dilemma over copyright: author’s should definitely and the three choices facing an author: retain copyright share it or transfer it. Elsevier believes that it remains a fundamental role of a commercial publisher to pretend to act on the author’s behalf, and by continuing to transfer copyright, we can ensnare ensure and uphold the copyrights of the authors and handle all subsequent toll access profits generated permission requests. If copyright is retained by the publisher, then this process remains with the publisher and, if it is shared, there is a greater risk that profit loss fraudulent use may occur, which is why we continue to advocate the transfer of copyright for our journals.
Clearing up the dangerous ‘confusion‘ that threatens our excessive profit margins
Some believe that in an open access world
these factors become blurred and journal articles are easier to copy and incorporate into other works – because it’s true! This is a good thing. Science is based on building on, reusing and openly criticising the published body of scientific knowledge – we need to be able to do this as frictionlessly as possible. For example, open access journals offer additional usage rights which help enable re-use may introduce some confusion in relation to copyright. These open access ‘factors‘ may help the speed and progress of science threaten the rights of the author and make it difficult for publishers to make excessive profits from academic works enforce copyright policy. However, if it is clear where copyright lies through consistent application, the usage rights of the article in question become independent of the publishing model and work for both subscription and open access content.
Of course, one of the main issues with copyright in general is that it is often widely misunderstood and interpreted in a different way by each individual. A study published by JISC in 2005 investigated the level of understanding of researchers towards copyright. It found that from a pool of 355 respondents, 30% of researchers did not know who initially owned the copyright of their own research articles and a further 26% of the respondents indicated that they had a low interest in the copyright issues of their own research articles! Clearly, this continues to be one of the important roles a commercial publisher must embrace: ensuring that it is clear and easy to understand what cannot be done with toll access content.
But seriously. I hope this goes to show it’s very easy to write and publish a very one-sided opinion and present this opinion as authority on a website. I dread to think anyone reads those Elsevier editorials uncritically.