Monday, February 20, 2012

Darkroom and open disclosure: two library solutions for dealing with copyright extremists

Elsevier, the scholarly publisher currently being boycotted by close to 7,000 researchers, does not appear on the exclusions list of the copyright extremist group Access Copyright. To me, this raises the question: are Elsevier and ilk receiving monies from Access Copyright in addition to the substantial fees paid by libraries for subscriptions, and if so, is this a breach of the typical "entire agreement" clause in a library license? Since Access Copyright does not tell us who they are giving money to, why not ask when we purchase? We could call this an "open disclosure" policy. Whenever libraries are purchasing or subscribing to resources, let's ask - IS this really the entire agreement, or are you looking for money from copyright collectives, too?

Of course, open disclosure would be most effective if it were practiced by Access Copyright. If people knew who they are representing (rather than who is excluded), then we could take appropriate actions. Such actions could include:
  • not buying their stuff
  • buying their stuff if we must, but putting it away in the most dark, remote corner we can find, in a separate room covered with stern warnings like: "These materials are covered by Access Copyright". Don't even THINK about copying!
  • set up a bank of computers that people pass by on their way to the dark room featuring open access resources
Another thought: if Access Copyright and those represented by Access Copyright don't want to participate in open disclosure, then let's start by encouraging those who aren't members of Access Copyright to openly proclaim their non-membership. This could be a selling point! Come of think of it, I wonder if anyone is using that Access Copyright exclusions list as an acquisitions tool?


  1. Heather, what are your opinions on The Research Works act, which has drawn the ire of the online open access community over the past few months?


  2. hi Michael,

    My views on the Research Works Act and those who support it are the same as my views on SOPA and those who support it, as I expressed on January 2 in this post, Elsevier wants to shut down the free web. Scholars and librarians - time to shut down Elsevier instead?

    I was delighted to see the Elsevier boycott, which I have signed and am glad to see that signatories are now over 7,000:
    More choice words for Elsevier here:

    Comments on Scholarly Kitchen pro-RWA rant:

    Question about the tax status of not-for-profits signing the RWA claiming to be private publishers:

    Wake-up call for Cengage Learning (member of AAP support RWA and SOPA)

    In lieu of flowers: an open letter to the American Association of Cancer Researchers (calling on the association to disavow AAP because of the RWA)

    Praise for Nature Publishing Group for clarifying that they do not support the Research Works Act, SOPA or PIPA:

    I support Gary Hall's call for a broader boycott of publishers supporting the Research Works Act, and have called on colleagues in my discipline to support this, pointing to the publishers involved:

    To sum, I am OPPOSED to the Research Works Act and in favor of putting any publisher that continues to support the RWA out of business.

    I see that you yourself have presented a very clear summary of the Act per se and the harm that it will cause - good to see:

    As a U.S. political issue, it is appropriate that Americans take the lead on fighting the Research Works Act in a political sense, with the rest of us focusing on other strategies such as the boycotts.


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