Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy 2012 Open Access Movement! December 31, 2011 Dramatic Growth of Open Access.


There are over 7,000 peer-reviewed fully open access journals as listed in the DOAJ, still growing by 4 titles per day and over 6,000 of these are in English, as listed by Open J-Gate. Electronic Journals Library keeps track of more than 32,000 free journals. There are over 2,000 repositories, linking to more than 30 million items, growing at the rate of 21 thousand items per day, which can be searched through the snazzy new Bielefeld Academic Search Engine search options. PLoS ONE, having become the world's largest journal last year, outdid themselves by doubling the number of articles published this year.  PubMedCentral, arXiv, RePEC, and E-LIS growth was in the 10-15% range for the year. This issue of Dramatic Growth adds a new feature, a first attempt at comparing compliance rates with a few medical funders' open access policies - so far, Wellcome Trust is looking good!

Details and commentary

As eloquently explained by Paul Stacey, 2011 was the year of open, or as Katarina Lovrecic suggests, everything OA seems to be coming up roses. Europeana added its 20 millionth item.  Creative Commons celebrated its 9th birthday, noting that there are now more than 500 million CC licensed items. Congratulations to PLoS ONE on its 5th birthday. It was only a year ago that PLoS ONE became the world's largest journal. In 2011, PLoS ONE topped off this remarkable accomplishment with one that may be even more astounding, having doubled the number of articles published in 2011 over 2010, for a total of just under 14,000 articles published in 2011. No wonder PLoS ONE has inspired at least 9 clones, as detailed by Mike Eisen.

Caroline Sutton and Peter Suber reported on growth in scholarly society open access publishers in the December 2011 SPARC Open Access Newsletter. The Social Sciences Research Network has a great statistics page featuring numbers such as their 1.3 million plus community, more than 50 million downloads, and over 300 thousand full text papers. That's just a few of the macro level indicators of fabulous open access growth that I happened to notice over the past few weeks!

Some highlights of 2011: this was the year to let the competition begin! and begin to address some of the challenges of success.  PMC growth is now about one free fulltext per minute. 

Following are a few figures for the year. To download the full data, go to the DGOA Dataverse
For earlier issues of The Dramatic Growth of Open Access and occasional updates, see the DGOA series post

Just added to the dataverse: a first attempt at comparing % of free fulltext indexed in PubMed by research funder. The method involves searching PubMed for Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural [pt] OR Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural [pt], first with no date limiter, then 3 years, etc. Similar approaches were used with the search terms Research Support, Canadian Institutes of Health Research and Research Support, Wellcome Trust. Comments on the method are welcome, please send an email to hgmorris at sfu dot ca. I wonder if this search approach could be used to compare countries on their relative contributions to medical research in the future? CIHR's total contributions indexed (not just fulltext) were about 85% of what our contribution would be relative to NIH adjusted for population (Canada has about 1/10 the population of the U.S.).  IF this method is sound, we're not quite pulling our weight when it comes to medical research in Canada, although we're not as far behind as I thought we might be.

Based on this method, it appears that Wellcome Trust is having the greatest success at compliance with its open access policy, having the highest percentage (62%) at the 3-year mark. Full data can be found in the DGOA Dataverse (Dec. 31, 2011 full data, 3rd tab).

% of free fulltext by research funder and date of publication
any date 3 yrs 2 yrs 1 yr 180 days 60 days 30  days
NIH 56% 59% 49% 20% 14% 9% 8%
CIHR 35% 33% 32% 19% 16% 9% 0%
Wellcome Trust 47% 62% 59% 49% 39% 33% 17%

The Directory of Open Access Journals now has over 7,000 titles, having added a net total of 1,436, for a growth rate of 4 titles per day. Even more remarkable is the growth rate in journals and articles searchable at article level. At growth rates of over 40% in the past year, this illustrates that DOAJ titles are growing in functionality as well as numbers.

Directory of Open Access Journals

December 31, 2011 2011 growth (numeric) 2011 growth (percentage)
# journals 7,372 1,436 24%
# journals searchable at article level 3,527 1,033 41%
# articles searchable at article level 721,271 230,860 47%

Open J-Gate  provides a listing and search service specific to English-language journals. Open J-Gate now has close to 10,000 journals, of which 6,500 are peer-reviewed. In 2011, Open J-Gate added titles at a rate of over 4 per day.

Open J-Gate

December 31, 2011 2011 growth (numeric) 2011 growth (percentage)
# journals (total) 9,710 1,605 20%
# peer-reviewed 6,508 1,631 33%

The Electronic Journals Library tracks free journals regardless of peer-reviewed / immediate open access status. Electronic Journals Library now has more than 32,000 journals, having added over 5,000 in 2011 at a rate of 15 titles per day

Electronic Journals Library - # journals
December 31, 2011 2011 growth (numeric) 2011 growth (percentage)
32,384 5,354 20%

There are now more than 2,100 repositories listed in the vetted OpenDOAR, which added new repositories at the rate of 1 per day in 2011. The Registry of Open Access Repositories added about 2 new repositories per day in 2011.

 # repositories

December 31, 2011 2011 growth (numeric) 2011 growth (percentage)
OpenDOAR 2,164 347 19%
ROAR 2,610 520 25%

Kudos to the Bielefeld Academic Search Engine for a snazzy new search service for the more than 33 million items available through over 2,000 repositories. A BASE search looks at more than 8 million documents more than a year ago, for a growth rate of 21 thousand documents per day.

BASE:  Bielefeld Academic Search Engine

December 31, 2011 2011 growth (numeric) 2011 growth (percentage)
# documents 33,598,612 8,082,061 32%
# service providers 2,072 345 20%

Growth rates at four established disciplinary repositories, PubMedCentral, arXiv, RePEC, and E-LIS, ranged from 10-15% for 2011. 

December 31, 2011 2011 growth (numeric) 2011 growth (percentage)
PubMedCentral 2,300,000 301,387 15%
arXiv 725,963 76,570 12%
RePEC 1,135,000 150,000 15%
E-LIS 12,577 1,157 10%
This post is part of the Dramatic Growth of Open Access series.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Selling out feminism: 100 photocopies for $3,607

Would you like your students to read  Selling (out) Feminism: Sustainability of ideology – viability tensions in a competitive marketplace by Suzy D'Enbeau & Patrice M. Buzzanell? Communication Monographs 2011, 78:1, p. 27-52.

The cost for rights to photocopy 100 copies for library reserve is $3,607, according to the Copyright Clearance Centre. This photocopy right does not get you the article itself to copy.

In contrast, here are three options for full open access that cost more than two thirds less than this publisher wishes to charge for another photocopies for a hundred students:

Printing copies for library reserve is likely of limited relevance nowadays, but good luck trying to research the costs for other re-use rights. I have tried a number of Quick Price options from the Copyright Clearance Centre, and here is the typical response that I get:
Pricing for this request requires the approval of Taylor & Francis Permissions Representative. You will be notified of the price before order confirmation. The processing period may take up to fifteen business days.
Communication Monographs is published on behalf of the National Communication Association by multinational conglomerate informa.plc through its traditional-sounding brand Routledge / Taylor & Francis.


Edgar, B. D., & Willinsky, J. (2010) (In press). A survey of the scholarly journals using open journal systems. Scholarly and Research Communication, Retrieved August  27, 2011 from

Let's raise the floor: a proposal for Creative Commons - fair copyright, CC-free to use, rewrite noncommercial and add public domain perpetual

This post is intended as a contribution to the Creative Commons (CC) 4.0 public discussion. Please submit any comments to the appropriate CC discussion list.


This post suggests raising the floor by creating a new CC-fair copyright for works that are not freely available. This will be counter-intuitive to many a commonser, but note that this would give consumers a great way to exert pressure for fair copyright. A new CC-free to use / all rights reserves licenses is suggested, reflecting CC Version 4.0 discussions suggesting the possibility of breaking noncommercial into a stronger and a weaker license - this would be the more restricted version. Wording is suggested for noncommercial per se to clarify that educational use is not commercial, therefore permitted, and asks whether public domain should be redefined as CC-Sharelike (preferably in perpetuity). A question is raised about advertising - is this really a commercial issue, or in part a matter of creators' moral rights?


Creative Commons - fair copyright
The idea is to create a new license for use with works that are not free at all, to indicate that the licensor supports and agrees to what we would like to see with copyright, including a broad set of fair use / fair dealing guidelines and a commitment to place works in the public domain in a reasonable time frame. By this I mean not current national or international law, but rather the best practices for fair use / fair dealing that we would all like to see as a minimum. Suggestions as to what this would be would be most welcome - perhaps an advocacy group for fair copyright has guidelines that would suit?


Strengths of this approach include:
  • This would give consumers - from individuals to large organizations like school districts - an opportunity to apply market pressure towards more fair copyright practices. As a librarian involved in coordinating purchase of information resources, I can see this being high on the list of desirable (or even required) criteria for purchase.
  • This more inclusive approach would broaden the commons, and help to bridge what I see as an "us versus them" divide. My understanding is that the experiences with free / open source software and creative commons to date have shown that people tend to start with more restrictive licensing, then move to less restrictive licensing over time. It would be psychologically a smaller leap, as a reader, listener, etc., to move from cc-fair copyright to cc-sharealike than to move from outside to inside the commons.
Weakness: proponents of a strong commons may not like this idea.

Creative Commons - free to read / all rights reserved
This is very similar to CC-fair copyright, except that the work is free to read online. With robust fair use / fair dealing, of course such uses as downloading, format-shifting, etc., for personal research and that sort of thing would be included.
Rationale: The "all rights reserved" is meant to address one suggestion that has come up in the CC Version 4.0 discussion, of dividing noncommercial into a two licenses, one with stronger and one with weaker restrictions. This would be the strong version. Sharelike might be an option with this license.

Creative Commons Noncommercial - suggested wording change
The current wording under Section 4 b - restrictions reads:
You may not exercise any of the rights granted to You in Section 3 above in any manner that is primarily intended for or directed toward commercial advantage or private monetary compensation. The exchange of the Work for other copyrighted works by means of digital file-sharing or otherwise shall not be considered to be intended for or directed toward commercial advantage or private monetary compensation, provided there is no payment of any monetary compensation in connection with the exchange of copyrighted works.
 Suggested change to:
You may not sell the content of the work for private gain. For the avoidance of doubt, educational use is not considered commercial for the purposes of this license, and is therefore permitted. Including the work in a package designed for sales to educational institutions for the purpose of private gain is commercial use and is prohibited. Providing services that facilitate uses of the work included in this license, such as copying services, are permitted provided that any fees charged are for the copying service alone and not for content provision. 
 Question about advertising: 
Would it make sense to include: use of the work or parts thereof in advertising products or services sold primarily for public gain is considered a commercial use, and hence prohibited. The reason for why question is, I wonder if advertising conducted in such a way as to imply that the creator endorsed a product is a violation of creators' moral rights which should be reflected in all CC licenses (for those jurisdictions where this is not already covered by copyright law, and to educate those who use CC-licensed work).
Rationale: I think that this may be close to what most ordinary creators mean by noncommercial, that is, don't sell my work or create a new version and sell that. It's pretty close to why I use noncommercial. Clarifying that educational uses are allowed would be a huge benefit to everyone, everywhere. Knowledge benefits us all!

Creative Commons - public domain suggestion
Based on a recent commons on the cc-licenses list that public domain is problematic, I wonder if it makes sense to redefine public as CC-Sharealike? Ideally, this should be perpetual, or at least give the creator an opportunity to say that they think this license should be perpetual.

My four bits for today, for what they are worth! Many thanks to Creative Commons and all of the cc-licenses and cc-community participants who have helped to shape my thinking about these matters. Apologies for any conceptual errors, real or imagined. This post is part of the Articulating the Commons series

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Open access to save costs for teaching and learning

Did you know that the cost to put an electronic copy of a single article on reserve for just two semesters can cost more than it would have cost to pay a professional publisher to make the article fully open access in the first place?

Over at the Copyright Clearance Center, I just looked up the cost for an article published in a Sage journal for reuse in a coursepack / library reserve for 300 students over 2 semesters as an institutional non-subscriber. The cost was $1,638 U.S. As the Copyright Clearance Center site points out, this is just re-use rights; this does not get me the actual article. Re-use for institutional subscribers apparently is free.

If my institution could not afford to subscribe to this journal, it would have been better to have paid for the article to be published as open access at PLoS ONE at $1,350 U.S. - even if the authors had nothing at all to do with the institution. Over 2 semesters, the  savings would have been $288. If we needed the article for a second year, with the current system we'd need to pay Sage yet again through the Copyright Clearance Centre - if we had paid for OA through PLoS ONE instead, our total savings would now start to accumulate at $1,638 for every year the article is needed.

The article in question:
Information Seeking Related to Clinical Trial Enrollment.  Z. Janet Yang, Katherine A. McComas, Geri Gay, John P. Leonard, Andrew J. Dannenberg, Hildy Dillon. Communication Research. December 2011.

Suggestion for a research project: look up authors of articles in this situation, and survey or interview them to find out whether they had any idea their work would be sold in this manner.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Is the OJS simple statement of open access the best approach, or should we do away with academic copyright altogether?

Two more thoughts on scholarly communication, copyright and creative commons:

Is the Open Journal Systems default open access policy statement all that is needed for an open access journal? Following is the statement, copied from the SFU Communications Grad Students Journal, Stream. With a statement like this, is any kind of Creative Commons licensing really necessary? Perhaps it is the majority of journals in the DOAJ that do not use CC licensing at all who have this right.

Open Access Policy

This journal provides immediate open access to its content on the principle that making research freely available to the public supports a greater global exchange of knowledge.
Glyn Moody on Techdirt asks the question, Do we really need copyright for academic publishing?  Copyright does not protect the kinds of things that really are important to academics, such as getting credit for ideas, but rather things that don't matter all that much to most of us, such as precisely how the ideas are expressed. This is a good question! If a researcher solves an important problem, such as finding a cure for a particular kind of cancer, what do they want - recognition, promotion, a Nobel prize - or a legal right to sue anyone who copies the precise wording used in the article describing the research that led to these results?

Just two more thoughts towards Articulating the Commons.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Why require attribution? A Creative Commons license discussion item

When you choose a Creative Commons license, attribution is a given. Why?

One might argue that the notion of the individual author or creator is an invention of the Enlightenment, and one that may be beginning to fall by the wayside as the potential of the web for social creativity is starting to emerge. For example, Wikipedia uses the Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike license. How does this make sense for a collaboratively produced encyclopedia where individual articles are not signed by authors?

Sometimes we want attribution; other times, however, attribution would slow down the spread of great ideas. The "Occupy" movement advanced so rapidly precisely through such sharing, and the Occupy leaderful approach would not fit well at all with a focus on individual attribution.

In my own area of scholarly communication, attribution through citing is a long-standing tradition, one that makes sense as citations are important to the career as a scholar, and (more importantly) citations are necessary so that the reader can review the cited sources. However, these practices have been in place for centuries without need of legal licensing, so why would this be required through a license now?

In order to have a way of checking for further permissions, a means of contacting the licensor is necessary. This is not the same as attribution.

Noncommercial means noncommercial (creative commons discussion)

To state the obvious, noncommercial means noncommercial. When people choose a noncommercial creative commons license, that's all that this tells us. It is important to understand that "noncommercial" does not necessarily mean reserving commercial rights for oneself (or one's organization). For example, a number of open access scholarly journals require authors to use a creative commons license, often one which stipulates noncommercial. It is the journal or the publisher who requires the license,  but it is the authors who retain commercial rights, as I have written about in more detail here.

Another interpretation of "noncommercial" is a statement that the creator does not consider the work to belong to the domain of what can be considered commercial. My understanding is that noncommercial is the most popular element in the Creative Commons suite. Perhaps this is one way for many people to say collectively that we would like to see the sphere of what cannot be considered commercial grow.

Following is one example of how I think "noncommercial", while seemingly a restriction, if broadly used has the power to grow the commons. 

If medical funders were to require that the published results of the work that they fund be made available for re-use in derivatives works, for example through the CC Attribution-only, Attribution-Sharealike, or Attribution-Noncommercial-Sharealike license, then derivative works could be made from large sets of medical research articles. Examples of derivatives could include value-added products designed to facilitate further research, or point-of-care tools for physicians. The problem with Attribution-only in this situation is that the value-added tools could be sold in locked-down, commercial versions. The authors, medical research funders, and those for whom the research is funded, for example the tax-paying public, might not be able to afford to purchase the value-added versions. For example, if a medical research funding organization funded research in the developing world, with CC-BY value-added tools could be created that would for practical reasons be exclusively available to the wealthy in the developed world. The sharealike provision would make sure that such products were available to all. However, if all, or a substantial portion, of these research results were available only on a noncommercial basis, this would mean that developing value-added tools would have to be done on a noncommercial basis. This step would tend to help to bring medicine from the sphere of private gain into the realm of the public good. I would argue that the society of the commons of the future that is worth striving for features a strong public health care system, and that "noncommercial" results of scholarly research therefore help to build a stronger commons.  Added Dec. 26: Casey Bergman's explanation of why he left Faculty 1000 is an illustration of this issue - a toll access service built on top of open access journals.

This is a part of what I tend to mean when I use the term noncommercial, or by using the "not for sale" picture that I generally use as my Facebook picture. It would be more accurate to say that what I usually mean by noncommercial is something like "this work is not for the commercial sphere, but in the event that I need money, I wish to reserve commercial rights for myself". That is the reason why The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics is licensed as noncommercial.

Research would be needed to understand what exactly people think that a commons is, might or should be. This is not as simple as conducting a survey, from my perspective, because first of all we need to think this through.  That's why I recommend Articulating the Commons.

Journals with good creative commons models


As reported by Suber & Sutton in the December 2011 SPARC Open Access Newsletter, only a small minority (15%) of society-owned fully open access journals use Creative Commons licenses, and as Shieber found in 2009, of all the journals listed in DOAJ, only 24% use CC licensing. To encourage more journals to use CC licenses, this post presents 4 journals or publishers, some from the scholarly society community and others from the commercial community, with what I consider to be good Creative Commons models. Note that I am not covering the CC Attribution only license (CC-BY), as I assume that this license is commonly understood to represent good practice for open access. In brief, in all cases the Creative Commons license is that of the author, not the journal or publisher. Cellular Therapy and Transplantation allows authors the full range of CC license choices; this model, from my perspective, is the best fit with my vision of Articulating the Commons. Co-Action Publishing and Bone & Joint Research both insist on libre open access with a CC Attribution-Noncommercial (CC-BY-NC) license which allows for re-use; both have interesting indications or clarifications on their website telling us a bit about what is meant by reserving commercial rights. Nature's Scientific Reports offers authors two choices of license, CC-BY-NC-ND (noderivatives) or CC-BY-NC-SA (sharealike), and shows responsibility by committing to donate to Creative Commons at a rate of $20 per article.


Cellular Therapy and Transplantation: author choice

Thanks to Claudia Klotzenburg of Cellular Therapy and Transplantation for pointing to CTT's policies on the open science list. CTT practices what I consider to be the optimal policy for an open access journal for CC licensing, requiring authors to use a CC license, but leaving copyright with the authors and allowing the author to select the CC license of their choice from among the full set of CC license options.  This is a policy that fits best with my vision of a project of involving as many of us around the planet, for years to come, in a conversation on Articulating the Commons.

The CTT Copyright Notice says (from the CTT Author Guidelines page) says:

E. Copyright Notice for Authors and Sponsors

With CTT, Authors retain the copyright of their contributions. This means that Author(s) are free to decide what they wish to do with their contribution. CTT Authors choose a Creative Commons Licence for their contribution so that every reader can see what rights are going along with this specific article. 

If an article is published in CTT, the Authors of an article have granted CTT the right to publish it. By agreeing to have the final version published, Authors declare that, in their contribution, rights of third parties have not been infringed on anywhere in the document, including tables and graphics. If Authors wish to republish the article, they are kindly asked to mention CTT as the place of first publication. 

Sponsors who wish to solve copyright issues concerning a CTT article: please talk to the Authors since it is them who are the copyright holders of their contributions.
Co-Action Publishing: noncommercial libre open access, author retains copyright

Integrity: Under a Creative Commons license authors retain the full non-commercial copyright on their work, allowing you control over how you wish to you use the work in the future.
This model leaves copyright with the author, but does not provide the full range of CC license options. The Co-Action commercial page gives us some clues as to why Co-Action would want to restrict commercial rights. One of Co-Action's services to publishing partners is providing print copies of journals. Another is selling advertising, both online and in print. If Co-Action were to use the CC Attribution online license (CC-BY), this would mean that another company could offer exactly the same services with the material Co-Action has worked on - without having to contribute a penny to the actual work of producing the journal. This is a good model reflecting libre open access (re-use allowed), while restricting rights that are likely necessary to sustain the publisher. A healthy open access scholarly communication system for the future needs open access publishers like Co-Action!

One suggestion for improvement: Co-Action could make it a little bit clearer as to which rights are being retained through the use of noncommercial. Here is where a statement along the lines of Education is a public good, not a commercial activity would be helpful. Or a statement along these lines: these materials are free for you to read, download, and print; however you may not sell print or other value-added copies of the journal or sell advertising on a copy of the journal that you create. For these rights, please contact Co-Action Publishing and/or the author of a specific article. 

Bone & Joint Research: libre open access, noncommercial, good definition of noncommercial

Authors retain the copyright of their material when publishing in Bone & Joint Research. If the paper is accepted for publication the content is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial License. This permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is noncommercial and is otherwise in compliance with the license. The licence can be found at

Definition of noncommercial: You may not exercise any of the rights granted to You in Section 3 above in any manner that is primarily intended for or directed toward commercial advantage or private monetary compensation. The exchange of the Work for other copyrighted works by means of digital file-sharing or otherwise shall not be considered to be intended for or directed toward commercial advantage or private monetary compensation, provided there is no payment of any monetary compensation in connection with the exchange of copyrighted works.
Nature Publishing Group offers authors two options for CC licenses: CC-Attribution-Noncommerical-Noderivatives (CC-BY-NC-ND) and CC-Attribution-Noncommerical-Sharealike (CC-BY-NC-SA). In either case, it is clear that the CC license is the author's, not Nature's; in other words, Nature Publishing Group is not retaining any commercial rights to articles in this journal, but rather vesting them in the author. From my perspective, this is wise as it provides some important protection for the journal (no competitor can take the contents wholesale and use them for commercial purposes that could compete with Nature), while keeping limitations on rights to a minimum. Giving authors two choices is a better fit with my vision of articulating the commons discussed above, albeit less of a full invitation to participate than offering the full range of options. While allowing for the creation of derivatives offers some clear benefits to scholarship, from my perspective no one at present has completely thought out whether or not the benefits outweigh potential disadvantages of allowing derivatives, such as misunderstandings that could come from poor translations. Providing the option allows for a natural type of experiment, in that over time we will see which option is preferred by authors. Nature is unique in this group for offering financial support to Creative Commons, at $20 per license used. From my perspective, this is very responsible on the part of Nature, and does not appear to come with any expectations of control over Creative Commons (which would be a matter of concern), but rather is a straightforward donation.

Who retains copyright of the open-access articles?
Content that an author has decided to make open access can be licensed under one of two Creative Commons licenses. The author can choose to opt for the Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivs 3.0 Unported License. The author will thereby permit dissemination and reuse of the article, and so will enable the sharing and reuse of scientific material. It does not, however, permit commercial exploitation or the creation of derivative works without specific permission. To view a copy of this license visit
The other choice is the Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial Share Alike 3.0 Unported License, which allows readers to alter, transform, or build upon the article and then distribute the resulting work under the same or similar license to this one. The work must be attributed back to the original author and commercial use is not permitted. To view a copy of this license visit
Why does NPG give money to Creative Commons and can I decide not to give a donation?
Creative Commons is a nonprofit corporation dedicated to making it easier for people to share and build upon the work of others, consistent with the rules of copyright. To support their efforts, and hence the open access community, Nature Publishing Group will make a donation to Creative Commons. This is not a portion of an individual APC, rather the donation is proportional to the total number of research papers published using the creative commons licences.
This post is a part of the Articulating the Commons and Transitioning to Open Access series, and is intended to inform the Creative Commons Version 4.0 discussion.

Update January 20, 2012. Note that Nature Publishing Group has clarified that NPG does not support SOPA, PIPA, or the anti-OA lobbying effort called the Research Works Act. On January 2nd, I had retracted my recommendation of NPG's license on the understanding that a subsidiary of the parent company was listed as a supporter of SOPA. Thanks to the clarification from NPG, I am delighted to retract my retraction, or to in the positive, to wholeheartedly support the CC license used by NPG's Scientific Reports.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Three pictures, one small gift to everyone, with love

This holiday season dedicated to peace and joy, I wish to share with everyone around the world one very small gift, of three of my prettiest pictures, dedicated to everyone with love, under the public domain. There are strings attached, but these are the bonds of love, the glue that binds together families and communities, not the bonds of law.

This is my first attempt to use a Creative Commons public domain license, something that I asked for from Creative Commons Canada many years ago. Note that while this one post on IJPE is licensed under the CC public domain license, the overall blog license is CC Attribution-Noncommercial-Sharealike.

Even when I desire to waive my rights under copyright laws, it is not easy! This set of photos began as a flickr set however in flickr the photos are licensed as Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike, because public domain is not an option, and I prefer CC-BY-SA over CC-BY.

Creative Commons Canada does give me the tools to create a public domain license, and Google's blogger has the flexibility so that I can add license to this particular post. However, I had to do some manipulating of the CC Canada public domain text as the default copy-and-paste resulted in a warning! html broken message, and some rather funny-looking text on my blog. This is cleaned up now, but perhaps only to an extent.

Also the Creative Commons Canada Public Domain license did not give me a chance to add a "more permissions" URL, which is a little bit less than optimal,  because I wrote the post to everyone, with love especially for this purpose.

This small critique is also intended with love, in the hopes of helping those who are helping us to build the commons through such means as Creative Commons licensing, and free tools for all to use (thanks, google and flickr).

Best wishes to everyone for a wonderful holiday season and great New Year. One of the 7 billion humans on this planet at this time, Heather Morrison

This post is written as part of a small project I am working on at the moment, Articulating the Commons. All are welcome to join in this project, over the next many, many years.


To the extent possible under law, Heather Morrison has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to this one blogpost, Three pictures, one small gift, noting that the overall creative commons license for The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics remain Creative Commons - Attribution - Noncommercial - Sharealike,  This work is published from:
Three Pictures One Small Gift.  Public domain, Creative Commons Canada.

To everyone, with love

This work is hereby dedicated to the public domain, with love. You are free to reuse the work as you will. Attribution, link-backs and thank yous are all appreciated, but not legally required. You are bound, not by law by the ties of love and the sense of ethics, fairness, moral or spiritual duty that bind us all to use this work with love, respect and care for all of humankind and all of the living creature that are part of the world that we all share.

This post is intended to create a more permissions URL to use with Creative Commons licenses. It is a part of a small project that I am working on which I call Articulating the Commons. Everyone - the whole world - is invited to join me in this project, over the next many, many years.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Scholarly communication for the 1%

Outsell just published a report about how much they figure the STM industry is making off the backs of academia, but at U.S. $1,295 for a 22-page report, I can't afford to read it! This is definitely scholarly communication for the 1%.

Any scholarly publisher that is making money from the works of academics, from my perspective, has an obligation to make their financial information freely available to all.


Creative Commons, noncommercial and formats

Following is a contribution of mine to the Creative Commons 4.0 discussion.  For more of the discussion, see the cc-licenses list.

Maciej Pendolski's point about differing rights depending on the format is an important one. This is not simply a matter of physical formats, but could also have applications in the digital world.

For example, the Journal of Medical Internet Research has a model where the html copy is free, but there is a charge to download the PDF.

Flatworldknowledge has an innovative approach to textbooks. All books can be read free online, while specific formats are available for purchase. This includes print (in either black and white or colour), audiobooks, PDF to print it yourself, or ebooks (for ebook readers - the web-based version is free). Details at:

There are likely many permutations of what types of formats might be available for free and which ones the creators wish to reserve rights for, and this is likely to continue to evolve over the next few years.  For this reason, I think that it may not be possible to write this into a standard license.

This, to me, is another good reason to provide a larger text box for "more permissions", so that people can write what they mean by using a particular license. Perhaps CC could provide a link to some sample language for common types of extra permissions language that people might wish to include?

Another thought is that as the commons evolves, our thoughts about what can be permitted may well evolve, too. What I am hearing is that there is a tendency for people to start out granting more limited rights, then move to greater permissions over time. For this reason, I think it would be optimal to provide a means for people to revisit or update their licenses. I don't know what is involved technically, so thoughts on this are appreciated.


Heather Morrison, MLIS
Doctoral Candidate, Simon Fraser University School of Communication
The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Wiley Annual Report 2011: costs down, profits up

The John Wiley and Sons 2011 Annual Report is now available. From the Overview, in brief, revenue from Wiley's Scientific, Technical, Medical and Scholarly division (STMS) increased slightly to just under a billion U.S., while direct contribution to profit rose from 5 to 9% (for a direct contribution to profit of $425 million, or 42.5%) - from the Detailed Financials, p. 22.

From the Overview: Revenue growth and margin improvement due to outsourcing journal production were partially offset by higher operating costs from business growth.

Another way to express this: in 2011, John Wiley & Sons decreased their costs by outsourcing journal production. This decrease in costs was sufficient to pay for increase in growth (taking over more society journals) and to reduce their net debt, and still increase profit their profits by 5 to 9%.

Update December 21: note that the Wiley profit rate of 42.5% is an understatement of the total profit from Wiley journal subscription revenue. This is because close to half of Wiley journals are published on behalf of scholarly societies. These societies also make a profit from Wiley revenues, which is subtracted as a cost before calculating Wiley's net contribution to profit from journal subscriptions. The actual percentage of Wiley revenue that goes to profit for both Wiley and the societies is somewhere between the 42.5% and the Wiley Gross Profit Rate of 73.1% (see page 22 of the Detailed Financials. That's not a typo - this is a gross profit rate of seventy three point one percent).

Articulating the commons: a leaderful approach

Apologies for duplication - I think this belongs on both cc-licenses and the cc-community list. I expect that I will only write a very few messages where this makes sense.

Rather than having a few of us decide on what the commons is or should be, why not invite everyone to participate in the discussion (open source it), over at least the next few years? This would be a leaderful approach (acknowledging the inspiration of Occupy).

From a technical standpoint, what I mean is that the box that says "more permissions URL" should be expanded and renamed to something like "more detail". Actively invite anyone who licenses material to tell more about what this act means to them - kind of like a will. Ideally, there needs to be a way to bring these comments together, perhaps through data mining, and occasionally sharing some of what people have come up with.

Some reasons to consider this approach:

1.    Opening the conversation in this way may open up new understandings about what sharing means, or could mean.  Some examples of things that people might want to say:
-    free for the 99%
-    free for anyone aiming for social and environmental justice
-    free to anyone not lobbying for restrictive copyright laws
-    free to anyone who has never sued a customer
-    free to use with respect

These kinds of things may or may not fit specific legal requirements, but I would suggest that building a commons is much more a cultural shift than a legal one.

My vision here is that Creative Commons is a great start towards a commons, but we all still have a great deal to learn. One reason is that before we settle on what the commons is, I think we (meaning all of humans around the world) need to consider other types of knowledge, such as traditional knowledges. The purpose this is  not just to respect the traditions (important though that is). We need to learn about these knowledges not just to respect traditional peoples, but to address a gap in our own knowledge. That there is a gap is our wisdom, I would submit, is substantiated by the fact that all of our science and technology has brought us to global financial crisis and impending environmental disaster through climate change. To address this, we need to consider different ways of thinking. One example is a traditional concept that knowledge / wisdom belongs to its environment, not to us. . In Western science, we may like to take things out of their environment and study them separately, but without the ecosystem, the lifeforms we study would not exist.

2.    It seems reasonable to assume that a commons that is collectively built and protected by the largest possible number of people will be much stronger than a smaller commons designed by a few experts. I think the best way to do this is a welcoming, inclusive approach. When we can commit things straight away to the public domain, that's great! But let's not forget that free reading onscreen with absolutely no either rights or privileges is still a lot better than no access at all, or no access with paying a lot of money.

3.    There are many different types of materials that can be shared through the Internet, and communities who interact with these materials in different ways. Even within scholarly communication, there are the scholarly journal articles that scholars have traditionally given away, books which cost much more to produce and generally earn royalties for the writer, creative works which for some academics generate real income, and research data. Data would be close to useful if shared but not for re-use, while derivatives of the writers of a top scholar would almost certainly be less valuable than the original. In other words, the best and most useful openness in scholarship might well be a strong imperative to allow derivatives in some cases, and ND in other cases.

To take a non-scholarly example, I understand that some of the CC legal cases have involved music in bars. Right now the options are to allow commercial uses, or not. I wonder if it might make sense to musicians and bar-owners to have another option, noncommercial - except in bars, under the condition that the bar-owner provides patrons with a way of purchasing the musician's CDs - perhaps by distributing a flyer highlighting the night's music with websites for the musicians featured? To figure out how to do things like this, we need to facilitate conversations. This is what I mean to propose, a leaderful approach to articulating the commons.


Heather Morrison, MLIS
Doctoral Candidate, Simon Fraser University School of Communication
The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics

Join the discussion! See the Creative Commons Version 4.0 discussion launch message, and join the cc-licenses list and/or the fairly high volume cc-community list. (or view the lists' archives from these links).

Further posts on this topic:
To everyone, with love (intended as a more permissions URL for CC licenses)
Three pictures, one small gift to everyone, with love (attempt to dedicate 3 pictures to the public domain)
Creative Commons, noncommercial and formats
Creative Commons and noncommercial - CC version 4.0 discussion
Education is a public good - not a commercial activity
- more permissions URL

Update December 31, 2011 - a similar suggestion from Paul Stacey from his post 2011 the year of open:

I’ve also been thinking of the potential to go “beyond permissions to intentions”. Let me explain. Creative Commons licenses do a great job of complementing copyright by providing a mechanism for creators to express permissions they accord others in terms of use of their work. However, what is missing is any expression of creators intentions. Are they giving permissions and don’t really care how its used? Would the creator like to see derivatives of their work that others create? Is the creator really interested in finding others who want to collaborate with them on the continuous improvement of the work? This latter intention is in my view critical to the long term success of OER. All open initiatives succeed over the long term based on the size and vibrancy of the open community that gets built up around it. I really wish there was some means of expressing creator intentions so that others reusing the work can do so in ways that fulfill creator aspirations.

Creative Commons and Noncommercial: CC Version 4.0 discussion

As posted to the cc-licenses list December 20, 2011

A few thoughts towards the version 4.0 discussions, focusing on noncommercial:

Noncommercial, to me, is NOT the most restrictive of the CC license elements, except in a technical sense. This is because noncommercial - the public sphere - is the very essence of the commons. As a long-term open access advocate, my considered opinion is that the strongest license for open access to scholarly works is CC-BY-NC-SA, as this is the license that most protects open access downstream.  As we move towards the development of a global commons, we need to keep in mind the society that we live in at present. The kind of license that may be ideal in the society many of us are striving for can be a danger to the commons in the interim. For that matter, in a society where sharing is the default, we should question whether licenses will still be necessary. Even at present, while CC licenses are most helpful in an open access context, I would argue that licensing should not be necessary; what is more important for the longer term is developing and articulating a culture of

 sharing. CC licenses is only one of many approaches.

I understand that there is some genuine confusion about what constitutes commercial use, and that this may differ by region. For this reason, it may be helpful to further refine the license terms, and perhaps include two different types of noncommercial. Some thoughts towards this end:

-    Is selling the actual conten the common element understood by anyone who uses noncommercial? If so, is this clearly spelled out in the NC license?

-    Education - learning and teaching - should not be considered commercial. Here is a post with my attempt to articulate this:

-    Providing commercial services that support education is a genuine gray area, and one where there may be good reason to have two different licenses. Organizations that rely to some extent on print-on-demand services should be able to say no to this, while many creators who have no interest in bothering with this might want to say sure, go ahead. I strongly advocate for understanding the need for creators to make a living, and including those who share as much as they can while reserving some rights so that they can make a living in the commons. For this reason, I do not support efforts to remove those who choose noncommercial from CC.

-    Advertising is another gray area. Here, I am wondering whether a key issue is not so much advertising per se, as the extent, and whether reciprocal services are offered. For example, an internet search service that leads users to CC licensed content and in the process uses very limited amounts of content is a very different situation from a commercial outfit creating a mirror site of a whole journal, publishers' offerings, or scholar's blog, and selling advertising on the mirror site, or a pharmaceutical company printing off thousands of reprints for their salespeople to take to doctors' offices. In the former case, I wonder if there are fair use / fair dealing arguments, at least in some jurisdictions. If not, would this give the corporate sector reason to argue for fair use / fair dealing exemptions? In the latter case, I think many creators do actually wish to prevent such commercial use, which may impact the moral integrity of the creator as well as potential economic impact.

Many thanks to CC for great work advancing the commons over the past few years, and for the opportunity to participate in discussions towards the next round.

Heather Morrison, MLIS
Doctoral Candidate, Simon Fraser University School of Communication
The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Education is a public good - not a commercial activity!

The purpose of this post is to clarify that the NC (noncommercial) element in the IJPE Creative Commons license is NOT intended to inhibit educational use. Learners and educators at any level, anywhere, are free to use this blog in teaching and learning.

The reason that I am posting about this is that it has come to my attention that there are jurisdictions where education is viewed as a commercial activity. From my perspective, this should be corrected and I hope it will in time, but in the meantime I am looking for the best way to say what my intentions are with respect to sharing of my work.

On a related note, again I think this should be obvious and not need to be stated, if I have posted something for access by anyone on the web and not taken any action to restrict crawlers, etc., of course I am allowing crawling and data mining. Whether taking actual content from my blog to post elsewhere and sell ads that make it appear as I approve the ads is a different story. If you know anyone who is doing this and selling ads to companies with practices to society or the environment, let me know so that I can take action to stop them. But if you are working hard for the social good or the environment and wish to do this, go for it!

If I am okay with educational uses and crawling, one might ask, why the NC? What I am trying to get at is that if you are a student or teacher, I am happy to share my work with you with very minimal restrictions. But if you are a for-profit business selling packages of services to schools, you do not have permission to include my work for free, so please get in touch with me to discuss appropriate royalties.