Monday, August 31, 2009

Canadian copyright consultation

Here is my response to the Canadian copyright consultation. Canadians, take note of the Sunday, September 13, 2009 deadline for submissions.

Questions and my Responses

  1. How do Canada’s copyright laws affect you? How should existing laws be modernized?


    As an academic, prolific writer and scholar of scholarly communication: Canada's copyright laws do not fit academia. Most scholarly research is supported by research grants (in turn supported by public funding) and/or academic salaries. Our need is to publish as widely as possible, for maximum impact of our work and to advance our careers. The optimum dissemination approach for academia is open access to scholarly peer-reviewed journal articles. Canadian academics need strong support for copyright laws that facilitate sharing, for example by strengthening fair dealing provisions, eliminating Crown copyright, eliminating automatic copyright registration, and shortening the timeline before copyrighted work enters the public domain. It is important to ensure that any copyright provisions designed for other sectors not hinder advances in scholarly knowledge.

    Digital rights management and technological prevention measures, and anti-circumvention laws, are of great concern to me. Although I share my own work freely, I do not control the Internet, and so it is entirely possible that others could impose DRM or TPM without my knowledge or permission on my works. If Canadian copyright law is to address DRM / TPM, it is essential to include provisions outlawing imposition of DRM / TPM on material shared freely, as well as to allow circumvention for any lawful uses of a work.

    As a creator - writer, photographer, interested in both free sharing and potentially commercial uses of my work, my view here also is that Canada should strongly support free sharing of information. The Internet and Creative Commons licensing have expanded opportunities for creativity and collaboration, with unprecedented potential for developing and enhancing culture and community. CC licensing should be encouraged and supported.

  2. Based on Canadian values and interests, how should copyright changes be made in order to withstand the test of time


    AVOID notice and takedown / 3 strikes and you are out types of provisions. Canadian democracy is built on trust, assumption of innocence until one is proven guilty, rehabilitation. Notice and notice fits Canadian values.

  3. What sorts of copyright changes do you believe would best foster innovation and creativity in Canada?


    Enhance and expand: fair dealing to reflect "fair use" style provisions. For example, teachers in the U.S. can hand out materials to students in class under fair use, while Canadian teachers cannot. Creative commons licensing.

    Eliminate: Crown copyright (have taxpayer-support research enter directly into public domain, as in the U.S.), automatic copyright protection.

    Reduce lengthy copyright terms, or require re-registry. 14 years is lots. This would bring lots of orphan works quickly into the public domain.

    Avoid: anti-circumvention measures. These are completely unnecessary. If circumvention is done for illegal purposes, the illegal purpose is already covered. Notice and takedown. 3 strikes and you are out.

  4. What sorts of copyright changes do you believe would best foster competition and investment in Canada? and 5. What kinds of changes would best position Canada as a leader in the global, digital economy?


    Encourage and support free sharing of information, such as through Creative Commons licensing, through the means mentioned above. For example, if Crown copyright is eliminated, then anyone can read lots of research funded by taxpayers for the Canadian public interest. Businesses throughout the country, and the world, would have helpful information that could lead to new business ideas which would benefit Canadians (i.e., solve the problems that inspired the government to fund the research). Creative Commons is a means for Canadian artists to expand their reach and audience around the globe.

    Thank you for the opportunity to participate in this consultation.

    Heather Morrison, MLIS

    Please note that I will post a copy of this response to my scholarly blog, The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Michael Smith Foundation adopts strong OA policy

As reported by Jim Till on Be Openly Accessible or Be Obscure, the Michael Smith Foundation, a medical research funding agency funded by the British Columbia government, has adopted an open access policy - and a strong one, that I hope will be a model for other funding agencies.

Excerpt from Jim Till's blog:

On July 6, 2009, the Board of Directors of the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research (MSFHR), adopted an Open Access to Research Outputs Policy [see 2-page PDF]. The MSFHR is the provincial support agency for health research in British Columbia (BC, Canada) and is funded by the Government of BC. A pivotal paragraph of the policy statement is also available at Managing Your Award [from the MSFHR]:

All MSFHR Award Recipients who receive an award or an award renewal after July 7, 2009 must ensure that all final peer-reviewed journal manuscripts that arise from research supported by that award (in whole or in part) are made freely accessible through either the Publisher’s website or an online repository within six months of publication.

This post is part of the Canadian Leadership in the Open Access Movement series. Now that the Open Access Tracking Project is up and running, there is a much easier for us all to track progress in Canada - simply sign up for a free Connotea account, and tag any news with and oa.canada.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

SCOAP3: a key library leadership opportunity in the transition to open access

Preprint. Serials Review 35, 2009, Balance Point. Full-text available in the SFU D-Space.


The SCOAP3 consortium aims to transition the whole of High Energy Physics (HEP) publishing from a subscription to an open access basis. SCOAP3 currently has commitments for more than 63% of the projected 10 million Euros per year budget, from partners in more than 21 countries, including more than 50 libraries and consortia in the U.S. Full participation from the U.S., a leader in HEP research, is both essential and particularly challenging, as the U.S. does not have a national coordinating body that can make one commitment for the country, as many other countries do. While the work to undertake this commitment for the library should not be underestimated - figuring out subscription costs when journals are part of a big deal, often through a consortium - neither should the benefits be underestimated. In brief, the benefits are the optimum access that comes with open access - full open access to the publisher's PDF for everyone, everywhere; a model for transitioning to open access that involves no financial risk, as commitments are capped at current subscriptions expenditures, and SCOAP3 is addressing the issue of unbundling successful journals from big deals and reducing costs accordingly; future financial benefits as a transparent, production-based pricing model for scholarly communication introduces competition into a market where it has been lacking; gaining publisher acceptance of library advocacy efforts for open access by addressing a key concern of publishers (financing the journals in an open access environment) and perhaps most importantly, establishing a leadership role for libraries in a future for scholarly communication that will be largely open access. As Douglas (2009) explains, "To move forward in achieving open access, U.S. libraries that subscribe to any of the five journals that are considered 100 percent convertible to SCOAP3 (European Physical Journal C, Journal of High Energy Physics, Nuclear Physics B, Physical Review D, and Physics Letters B) need to participate". If this describes your library, please go to the SCOAP3 website, now, to learn more and participate in this innovative global collaboration that can be a model, not only for transitioning to open access, but also for how humankind can work cooperatively across borders to accomplish a great good that will benefit all of us.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Open Access Journals Support in Canada: new research project in planning

This is a report of a new research project just getting started, detailed description for linking from the Open Access Directory Research in Progress section.

Project Title: Open Access Journals Support in Canada
Status: early planning stages (August 5, 2009)

Investigators: Don Taylor, Simon Fraser University, Kumiko Vezina, Concordia University Library, Heather Morrison, Simon Fraser University

Background: there are several key opportunities where research appears highly desirable to move things forward. The cross-country Synergies project is helping many Canadian society publishers in the Social Sciences and Humanities to go online. When the original funding runs out in a few years, there will be a need to sustain support for these journals, and identifying an avenue for open access support can help to spur movement towards open access. The SSHRC Aid to Open Access Journals fund is relatively new, and potentially scalable to include more journals or disciplines, should libraries be able to commit to funding for OA rather than subscriptions. The SCOAP3 initiative, which Canadian libraries have committed to through CRKN, provides a model. That is, would Canadian academic libraries be willing to commit their current subscriptions monies towards an open access scholarly publishing system? The CRKN Alternative Publishing Models also provides something that we can build on.


Survey Canadian academic libraries and university presses (CRKN members plus any that wish to self-identify as active in this area) to determine current levels of university support for journal hosting and support services in Canada in general, and open access journals in particular. The Survey may be supplemented with additional research / follow-up, e.g. viewing journal sites to determine copyright of Cdn publishers (note PKP presentation from student at Telequam on this topic).

Basic questions:
  • What is happening already in this area?
  • What might universities be willing to commit to? (e.g., would Cdn libraries go for a SCOAP3-like model for Cdn academic publishers if such were proposed)?
  • Identify barriers (e.g., in the U.S., in some states it is against the law to pay for anything that you can get for free. Is this the case here, and if so, how can such barriers be overcome?)

Saturday, August 01, 2009

The benefits of open collaboration from the start!

About a year ago, I posted about works-in-progress, including a research study Don Taylor & I were planning, a research study on supports for open access among Canadian libraries. The post was spotted by our UBC colleague Devon Greyson, who contacted us about similar interests at UBC. Since then, the study grew to a pan-Canadian survey on research supports by Canadian university libraries and research administration offices, by a team consisting of UBC's Dr. Charlyn Black (health policy expert and member of the committee that developed the CIHR policy), and Devon Greyson, myself & Don Taylor, and Concordia University's open access coordinator Kumiko Vezina, with lots of help from many people at several institutions. Preliminary results were presented at the 2nd International PKP Conference in Vancouver last month; see the blogpost. The team has just submitted the paper for peer-review; watch for more details on results in formal publication and further presentations. This post will not address the results of this study pe se, but rather is a recommendation: if you are planning a research study, let people know! You just might find yourself part of a larger study, with more people to share the work so that a larger study can be done with reasonable efforts by all. Many thanks to everyone on the team for this experience.

One way to share your research-in-progress, if it is about open access, is to post to the Open Access Directory's Research in Progress page. There are some interesting studies already underway listed there!