Author Archives: Erika Wilson

NAFTA Negotiations: Authors Alliance Joins Public Interest Groups in Support of Transparency and Balanced Copyright Policy

Posted August 18, 2017
Photo of open sign

Photo by James Sutton | CC0

Today, Authors Alliance joins with other public interest advocates such as Creative Commons, SPARC, Internet Archive, OpenMedia, and Public Knowledge to sign on to a statement in support of transparency and balanced copyright policy in the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The statement was sent to the trade ministries of Mexico, the U.S. and Canada, urging all three countries to make trade negotiation processes more transparent, inclusive, and accountable.

Closed-door trade agreements are not the right forum to create intellectual property policy, particularly when negotiations lack transparency. It is critically important that drafts of international agreements that address intellectual property issues be publicly available for comment so that authors and other stakeholders can weigh in on the proposed rules that will bind all member states. Moreover, such agreements are not flexible enough to account for rapid changes in technology.

Authors Alliance is particularly concerned that by shoehorning intellectual property issues in trade agreements without broad consultation, the resulting rules tend to favor longer copyright terms, increased enforcement measures, and harsh infringement penalties—without corresponding attention focused on appropriate limitations, such as robust fair use rights and other reasonable exceptions.

This imbalance does not serve the interest of authors and is out of step with our founding statement on Principles & Proposals for Copyright Reform. As both creators and users of content, authors depend upon balanced copyright policy that provides reasonable protection while not getting in the way of onward distribution and creation. Long copyright terms, for example, make it more likely that authors’ works will become unavailable or orphans. Lack of robust fair use exceptions, combined with harsh penalties, similarly make it more likely that authors’ works will go unused in subsequent works, limiting the original author’s reach and impeding the advancement of knowledge and culture. What’s more, users’ rights are authors’ rights. For example, authors rely on fair use in every phase of the creative process, and may need to circumvent digital rights management to create new works.

For these reasons, if NAFTA addresses intellectual property rights, “there must be active and enforceable mechanisms to protect exceptions and limitations regimes, fair use/fair dealing and the public domain, parties should resist extensions in copyright terms that punish new artists and creators, and there should be no increased criminalization for digital rights management circumvention.”

Further details can be found in the full text of the statement. Hover over the document below to view the statement in your browser, or download here.

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Spotlight on Open Access and Academic Publishing:
A Q&A With Eric von Hippel

Posted August 15, 2017

headshot of Eric von Hippel

Just in time for the 2017 back-to-school season, we’re featuring a series of posts on alternatives to traditional publishing models. Earlier this year, Authors Alliance advisory board member and MIT professor Eric von Hippel released his book Free Innovation under a Creative Commons license—the newest addition to his online collection of freely available works. We asked him about his experiences with rights reversion, open access, and how academic authors and publishers can help to make books openly available.

Authors Alliance: You successfully regained the rights to your 1988 book The Sources of Innovation from Oxford University Press (OUP). How did you secure a reversion of rights? What have you been able to do with your book since reversion?

Eric von Hippel: When I contracted with OUP for my first book in the 1980s, I was not aware of open access as a possibility, so I simply signed a standard contract giving all rights to OUP. About 20 years later, I had become very interested in open access. I therefore asked OUP to allow me to conduct an experiment. OUP would allow me to post a free electronic version on my MIT website. If hard copy sales declined in the next period, I would pay OUP $1,000 as compensation for lost sales. If they went up, OUP would keep the profits and allow me to keep posting the free version. OUP agreed to these terms. Happily, sales of printed copies went up, so I was able to keep posting the free version from then on.

With respect to actually getting back the copyright for Sources of Innovation so I could go fully open access: About 5 years ago, my excellent activist OA colleagues (thanks especially to Ellen Finnie Duranceau of MIT) told me that I had a window of time in which I could get the copyright returned to me. That window was fast-approaching in the case of my 1988 book, so I simply wrote to my editor at OUP, asking him to give me back the copyright without my having to go through the formal process as dictated by the law. Sales were low at that point, so he simply said “fine,” and wrote me a letter transferring all rights back to me.

AuAll: We’ve written previously about MIT Press’ pioneering approach to open access. To date, you’ve published two books with MIT: Democratizing Innovation and Free Innovation. Your publication contract with MIT gave you the right to post free ebooks from the very beginning, ensuring that both books were “born open access.” Based on your experience, can you offer some advice to other authors—and publishers—who want to embrace this model?

EvH: In response to your question, I talked to my editor at MIT Press to see if they had by now evolved a standard set of OA practices. Turns out they have not. They are still experimenting. Sometimes, depending on specifics of a book—for example, is it a textbook?—their experiments result in negative financial consequences for the Press relative to their sales projections. Sometimes the consequences are financially quite acceptable. Things are also changing quite rapidly in terms of book-reading behaviors. Specifically with respect to my own books with MIT Press, the 2005 book had very acceptable print sales despite the availability of a free eBook version. The jury is still out on my new 2017 book.

Frankly, these days authors have to insist on an open access eBook option if they are to have a hope of getting a publisher to agree. And, they very well might be turned down even if they do insist. As we know, academic presses are not hugely profitable, and they cannot afford to take big risks. I have a feeling that a standard OA option that may emerge in the end will be something like the model now increasingly offered by publishers of academic articles: If authors want open access, they may increasingly have to agree to pay a fee to compensate publishers for (possibly) lower print copy sales.

AuAll: How did you select which Creative Commons license to apply to these books?

EvH: I really did not know which one to use—I just sort of chose the license others seemed to be using without really understanding the pros and cons. I will be able to make a more informed choice using information supplied by Authors Alliance by the time decision-making for my next book comes around. [Chapter Four of Authors Alliance’s guide to Understanding Open Access has additional information about selecting an open access license.]

AuAll: What results do you see from publishing your books openly? What do you see as the pros and cons of embracing this model?

Like most academic authors, I write books to have them read, not to earn royalties. The increase in readership I have experienced by going OA is really worth it to me—it makes me very happy. Evidence to date is that about 10 times more eBooks are downloaded than print copies are sold, so I guesstimate that I am reaching about 10 times more people with the ideas I find exciting than I could have done in the pre-OA era. It especially makes me happy that now teachers can assign even a single chapter of one of my books in a class in a developing country if they wish, without worrying about burdening students with any purchase costs.

Personally, I don’t see any negatives with respect to going OA—only positives. I actually feel very proud that I can contribute to my colleagues and to scholarship in this enhanced way. I am very grateful to the Authors Alliance for making it easier for me and many others to accomplish an Open Access outcome.

AuAll: Do you have any other suggestions for authors on how they can make their works available in the ways that they want?

EvH: Open Access is a wonderful goal—but as a young academic, please don’t feel guilt or failure if you cannot negotiate open access agreements right from the start. At the beginning of an academic career, very few of us have much leverage with publishers to negotiate for open access. Certainly, in the case of my first book I was at the start of my academic work and had zero leverage. In fact I was just very happy to get published by a good academic press like OUP, and would have signed pretty much any “standard terms” they asked for.

If this is your case too, I would urge you not to feel badly if you have to sign a traditional contract assigning all rights to your publisher. Better to survive the academic rites of passage. You will have a long academic career, and will have increasing abilities to demand and negotiate open access for your work as your reputation grows.

AuAll: We are honored to count you among the advisory board members of Authors Alliance. Thank you for sharing your experiences with our readers!

EvH: I am totally proud to serve on the Advisory Board. Pam Samuelson, as we all know, was a crucial founding member of Authors Alliance. She was the one who asked me to join. In my experience, Pam has wonderful instincts about what will help scholars and scholarship with respect to openness, and I signed on to support both her and this wonderful idea.

(As a side story in closing—I should mention that I tend to regard Pam Samuelson as akin to an unstoppable force of nature when she gets behind something she believes in. I still remember hearing about and worrying about the (ultimately defeated) proposed settlement between Google and commercial publishers a few years back. At a certain point, Google felt the agreement was in the bag. They then began sending lawyers around around the country to inform academic authors and others about how we could expect to function in the new world they envisioned. Indeed, they said, they were sure we would learn to love that new world over time. In fact, many academics were strongly against that proposed settlement for very good reasons, but things looked very bleak for the resistance at that time.

Then one day I heard that Pam had taken up the cause and was working hard against it with a few others. To the inexperienced eye, Pam and her colleagues were a small and lonely academic crew against mighty Google legal phalanxes that extended to the horizon like an endless sea of Orcs. However, as soon as I heard Pam was in the fight I immediately relaxed. Indeed, I remember thinking as I listened to a talk at the Boston Public Library by the very confident Google lawyers: Can’t they see what is coming next? Don’t they know they are now the walking (actually, limousine-riding) dead—about to experience the equivalent of the Lord of the Rings Ghost Army?)

So, in sum: Right on Pam, and right on, Authors Alliance! Keep it up! We are proud to be in this battle for Open Access with you!

Eric von Hippel is T. Wilson Professor of Innovation Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and is also Professor of Engineering Systems at MIT.  von Hippel graduated from Harvard College (BA), MIT (MS), and Carnegie Mellon University.  He is the recipient of three honorary doctorates, and numerous honors and academic prizes, such as the Humboldt Foundation Research Prize (2013), and the EU “Innovation Luminary” Award in 2015. 

von Hippel is known for his research into the sources of and economics of innovation. He has written three books on these topics, and also has published many articles in innovation management, ranging from the theoretical to the very practical.  Digital copies of all his books can be downloaded for free online from his MIT website at https://evhippel.mit.edu/books/

Authors Alliance Welcomes Advisory Board Members
Amy Brand and Alison Mudditt

Posted August 10, 2017

We are very pleased to welcome the two newest members of the Authors Alliance Advisory Board: Amy Brand and Alison Mudditt. They join a distinguished group of advisors who contribute valuable expertise and perspectives on academia, authorship, scholarly communication, legal matters, and publishing. In their roles at MIT Press and PLOS, respectively, Brand and Mudditt bring extensive knowledge of open science, scholarship, and innovative publishing models. We look forward to working with them and our other advisory board members to create, refine, and improve the tools and services we offer to authors in the digital age.


Amy Brand headshot

Amy Brand, Director of the MIT Press

Amy Brand was named Director of the MIT Press in July 2015. Previously, she served as VP Academic and Research Relations and VP North America at Digital Science. Brand serves on the DuraSpace Board of Directors, the Board on Research Data and Information of the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, and was a founding member of the ORCID Board, and regularly advises on key community initiatives in digital scholarship. She holds a B.A. in linguistics from Barnard College and a PhD in cognitive science from MIT.


Headshot of Alison Mudditt

Alison Mudditt, CEO of PLOS

Alison Mudditt is Chief Executive Officer of PLOS, a global leader in the transformation of scientific communication. Previously, she was Director of the University of California Press and has also held senior positions with SAGE Publications, Taylor & Francis, and Blackwell Publishers. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers and has served on the Scientific Publications Committee and the Open Science Committee of the American Heart Association; the Dean’s Leadership Council at California State University Channel Islands; and the Executive Council of the Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division of the American Association of Publishers, as well as a number of other volunteer boards. She holds an MBA in addition to a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Bath.

Authors Alliance Petitions to Renew Multimedia E-Book Exemption to Section 1201 of the DMCA

Posted August 1, 2017
photo of CD with padlock

photo by 422737 | CC0

While copyright law generally provides for exceptions like fair use that maintain our ability to criticize, comment on, and transform copyrighted works, some courts have held that these exceptions do not apply to the anti-circumvention provisions of Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), for the most part, do not recognize these kinds of exceptions. Evading digital rights management (DRM), even when done for otherwise lawful purposes—such as education and criticism—may be prohibited by law. However, every three years, the Librarian of Congress is empowered to approve discrete, temporary exemptions from the law in order to carve out space for non-infringing uses caught up in the DMCA’s broad sweep.

In February 2015, in response to the U.S. Copyright Office’s sixth triennial rulemaking session, Authors Alliance joined with author Bobette Buster, the American Association of University Professors, and counsel from legal clinics at the UC Irvine and the University of Colorado, Boulder to submit comments in support of exemptions that would allow authors to make use of DRM-protected multimedia content in e-books. That spring, our team attended hearings in Washington, DC to make a case for the exemptions, and in October 2015 the Copyright Office released its final rule, which includes an exemption for multimedia e-books offering film analysis.

That exemption allows e-book authors to circumvent digital locks on Blu-rays, DVD, and digitally transmitted video such as downloads and streaming for purposes of film analysis. The rule gives authors access to a wealth of high definition content—particularly, from Blu-ray—that they need in order to make fair uses in multimedia e-books.

Now, as we approach the seventh triennial rulemaking session in 2018, our team has submitted a petition to renew these exemptions. (Further details can be found in the full text of our petition. Hover over the document below to view the petition in your browser, or download here.) Authors Alliance believes that multimedia e-books are an important form of authorship and wants to see authors empowered to fully realize their promise. The freedom to author e-books that incorporate film for the purpose of analysis, consistent with the core tenets of the First Amendment and academic freedom, remains significant and important. We will continue to track the progress of the 2017-2018 rulemaking and provide updates as they become available.

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Rights Reversion: Restoring Knowledge and Culture, One Book at a Time

Posted July 25, 2017

ALA District Dispatch LogoThe following post originally appeared on the American Library Association‘s District Dispatch blog on July 18. Thanks to Carrie Russell, Director of the Program on Public Access to Information at the ALA, for helping us to share information about Authors Alliance and rights reversion with the library community!

For many of us, it’s an all-too-familiar scenario: We’re searching for a book that’s fallen out of print and is unavailable to read or purchase online. Maybe it’s an academic text, with volumes held in only a few research library collections and all but inaccessible to the public. Or maybe it’s one of the many 20th-century books whose initial commercial life has ended, and whose copyright status means they have disappeared. Most of these books were published long before the advent of the Internet, or of e-books. Finding and accessing these volumes can be frustrating and time-consuming, even with the benefit of interlibrary loan. There’s all this valuable knowledge and culture out there, but we can’t get to it!

Wouldn’t it be great if there were some mechanism to give new life to the many books that have been “locked away,” to make them newly available, and to share them with new audiences?

Thanks to rights reversion, there is a way! Reversion enables authors to regain the rights to their previously published books, so that they can make them newly available in the ways they want. Some authors may want to bring their out-of-print books back into print, while others may want to deposit their books in open access online repositories. Still others might want to update their works, create e-book versions with multimedia resources, or commission translations.

A “right of reversion” is a contractual provision that permits authors to work with their publishers to regain some or all of the rights in their books when certain conditions are met. But authors may also be able to revert rights even if they have not met the triggering conditions in their contract, or if their contracts do not have a reversion clause at all! Reversion can be a powerful tool for authors, but many authors do not know where to start.

That’s where Authors Alliance comes in. We’re a non-profit education and advocacy organization whose mission is to facilitate widespread access to works of authorship by assisting authors who want to share knowledge and products of the imagination broadly. We provide information and tools designed to help authors better understand and manage key legal, technological, and institutional aspects of authorship in the digital age.

Our Guide to Understanding Rights Reversion was written to help authors navigate the reversion process. (Check out the rights reversion portal on our website to download or buy the guide, and for more resources including letter templates for use in contacting publishers about reversion). Since we released the guide two years ago, we’ve featured a number of reversion success stories. For example, Robert Darnton (professor emeritus at Harvard and a founding member of Authors Alliance) worked with his publisher to regain rights to two of his books about the French Enlightenment, and he has made them freely available to all via HathiTrust and the Authors Alliance collection page at the Internet Archive. Novelist and Authors Alliance member Tracee Garner successfully leveraged reversion to regain the rights to two of her previously published books. She’s currently working on a third volume, and she plans to release all three as a new trilogy.

Rights reversion has a great deal of potential to help authors and the public, and librarians are in an excellent position to help spread the word about reversion. Many senior academics have decades’ worth of scholarly books, many of which may be out of print and locked away in inaccessible library stacks. None of them are available online. Rights reversion can be a way to help authors ensure their intellectual legacy, while also bring their works to new audiences.

Reversion is good for authors, good for publishers, and good for the public interest. You can learn more by visiting our website, where we invite you to become a member of Authors Alliance! Basic membership is free, and our members are the first to hear of new resources, such as our forthcoming guide to fair use and our guide to publication contracts. We also feature news on copyright policy and advocacy.

If you have questions about rights reversion, we can be reached at reversions@authorsalliance.org. We’d also love to hear about your experiences with assisting authors with these issues—who knows, maybe yours could be the next rights reversion success story!

 

Authors Alliance Submits Comments in Support of Modernization Efforts at the U.S. Copyright Office

Posted July 17, 2017

Today, Authors Alliance submitted comments in response to the United States Copyright Office’s recent Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for Modernizing Copyright Recordation. By reducing the barriers to recording transfers of copyright ownership and submitting notices of termination, the proposed rules lay the foundation for improved copyright ownership records and make it easier for authors to exercise their termination rights.

We fully support these goals, which would not only help authors help authors increase the compensation for and dissemination of their own works, but also make it easier for others to find accurate information about the rights in a given work and therefore reduce the number of works likely to become “orphans.” We also suggested that the Office consider:

  • providing better incentives for rights holders to record transfers of copyright ownership;
  • providing incentives to record transfers by operation of law;
  • strengthening incentives to keep ownership contact information accurate and up to date;
  • providing a mechanism to record diligent search data for orphan works;
  • reducing fees for electronic submission of documents; and
  • hiring technologists and economists to support modernization efforts.

Further details can be found in the full text of our comment. Hover over the document below to view the comment in your browser, or download here.

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Internet Archive’s Open Libraries Project:
A Treasure Trove for Readers and Authors

Posted July 11, 2017
Photo of book and Open LIbrary card

Photograph courtesy of the Internet Archive

In February of this year, the Internet Archive was chosen as one of eight semi-finalists in the MacArthur Foundation’s 100&Change grant competition, which will award the winner with $100 million to address an urgent problem of worldwide importance. The Internet Archive’s Open Libraries proposal is a bold and ambitious plan which would digitize over 4 million books and put them in the hands of readers around the world, many of whom face significant barriers to accessing knowledge. Making works available on this unprecedented scale would clearly be a tremendous benefit not only for students, scholars, researchers, and the general public—but also for authors.

As an organization dedicated to widespread access to information for the public good, many of our members have firsthand knowledge of the issues the Open Libraries project aims to solve. The Internet has made information and creative works available in ways unimaginable just a generation ago, but its potential in this regard is still largely unrealized. Authors face a host of technical, legal, and financial barriers that prevent them from sharing their works that are out of print, un-digitized, and/or subject to copyrights signed away long before the digital age. Rights reversion and terminations of transfers may be an option for some authors to regain rights (as the Authors Alliance collection of books in the Internet Archive can attest), but the fact remains that millions of books—especially those that have fallen out of print—are, for all intents and purposes, unavailable.

For many readers around the world, digitized books are not merely a more convenient means to access works—they may be the only way to do so. Even if a book happens to be available in a local library, there are many readers who are nonetheless unable to access it due to infirmity or a print disability. Readers in the developing world are hungry for knowledge, but their access to it is often severely limited. Online books may well be their only route to an education and its lifelong benefits. Many authors care deeply about making sure their works are available to these readers, and worry that gaps in digital availability prevent these readers from accessing their books.

Digital libraries also create new opportunities for authors from under-represented communities to reach readers. Communities of color, the disabled, students, seniors, the incarcerated, LGBTQI people, and religious minorities are just some of the voices that have historically been at the margins of mainstream publishing. By proactively identifying and including vast numbers of works that may be largely unavailable via traditional channels, the Internet Archive would dramatically increase the diversity of knowledge available online, and put it in the hands of those who would otherwise have limited or no access.

A new round of finalists for the 100&Change grant will be announced in September. We at Authors Alliance wish the Internet Archive success as the competition moves forward throughout this summer and fall!

Digitizing the MIT Press Backlist: A Q&A With Amy Brand

Posted June 27, 2017

Headshot of Amy Brand, Director of the MIT Press

Earlier this year, the MIT Press and Internet Archive announced a partnership to digitize books from the Press’ backlist and make them available online. We caught up with Amy Brand, Director of the Press, to ask about the collaboration and how publishers can help to make books openly available.

AUTHORS ALLIANCE: We’re thrilled to hear that MIT Press is making some of its backlist openly accessible.  Can you tell us about the project?

AMY BRAND: Sure thing. We’re partnering with the Internet Archive, with funding support from Arcadia, to digitize hundreds of deep backlist MIT Press books where we have the rights to do so, and to enable open access where legal and practical as well. At a minimum, the digitized books will be available for free one-at-a-time lending through openlibrary.org and through libraries that participate in the broader OpenLibraries project, which is intended to enable libraries that own the physical books to lend digital copies to their patrons.

AuAll: What motivated MIT Press to undertake this project?

AB: When I started as Director of the MIT Press a couple of years ago, one of my top ambitions was to make sure that everything we’ve published and have the rights to digitize be made accessible, searchable, and discoverable, now and in perpetuity. When I connected with Brewster Kahle at the Internet Archive, we realized that partnering to achieve this made great sense for both parties. Brewster is looking to bring as many print-only books online as possible, and working directly with publishers is a key part of his strategy. For the MIT Press, the relationship means we get back digital files for our own use. That’s a significant cost savings, considering we were planning to digitize all these works on our own. In addition to making older works newly available and to growing our open access program, I also see this effort as one way to get out in front of widespread circulation of unauthorized digital files for these works.

AuAll: What can you tell us about the collection that will be included?  Are there any titles or authors you are particularly excited to see newly available to readers?

AB: We’re just at the start of this effort, targeting older and out of print books, reaching out to authors and their estates to make them aware of the project and to give them the opportunity to opt out (so far, no one has). There are so many gems on the list, but one that jumped out at me was a 1973 re-issue of a 19th-century work by Frederick Law Olmsted that tells the story of his plans for New York City’s Central Park. If you search online for this book today, you’ll find it sells for about $500 in the used book market.

AuAll: What were the biggest hurdles to realizing this project, and how did you overcome these obstacles?

AB: It took us several months to agree on contractual terms that both the Press and the Internet Archive felt comfortable with. In particular, the Press wanted an agreement that allowed us to designate some works in the program as completely open access and others for lending only, and that’s where we landed. I hope that this negotiation process and resulting agreement will serve as a model for other publishers who grasp the many benefits of this opportunity.

AuAll: Do you have any words of wisdom for other publishers who want to follow MIT Press’ example?

AB: We’re all in the knowledge dissemination business, so take every opportunity make the content in your authors’ books, past and present, available and useful. What I also sometimes point out to other university presses is that there is so much unauthorized copying and sharing of our publications that we’re fooling ourselves to think that we can lock them down. Our business models need to take that into consideration. Even for new books, digital open access plus paid print can be the right model for certain academic authors. And, where feasible, we can take the wind out of the pirate sails by putting into circulation files that the publisher authorizes and that include explicit information about the authors’ intended use of the content.


For more information about regaining rights to previously published work, and about open access publishing, please see the Authors Alliance Resources page. We will continue to follow the MIT Press project and provide updates on books as they become newly available online.


Amy Brand was named Director of the MIT Press in July 2015. Previously, she served as VP Academic and Research Relations and VP North America at Digital Science. Brand serves on the DuraSpace Board of Directors, the Board on Research Data and Information of the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, and, was a founding member of the ORCID Board, and regularly advises on key community initiatives in digital scholarship. She holds a B.A. in linguistics from Barnard College and a PhD in cognitive science from MIT.

DMCA Takedown Notices: Know Your Rights

Posted June 22, 2017

Last week, the American Psychological Association (APA) issued Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown notices targeting APA articles on 80 university websites in an attempt to restrict unauthorized use of submissions to APA journals. In some cases, this resulted in the removal of academic authors’ articles from personal websites and university repositories. In response to the outcry from authors, the APA altered its pilot program to focus on removing articles from piracy sites rather than also targeting individual authors. APA also reiterated that authors may post their pre-print submissions (not the final version as published by an APA journal), as per their publication agreements with the APA.

This is not the first time that a journal publisher has targeted academic articles on university websites with DMCA takedown notices. In 2013, Elsevier, publisher of nearly 2,000 research journals, began sending takedown notices to individual researchers and universities targeting articles posted on university-hosted pages. Like the APA, Elsevier distinguished between authors posting the final versions of articles from those posting earlier versions.

Although these publishers may have acted within their rights to send these takedown notices, for authors looking to share work broadly, it is hard to imagine a situation more frustrating than not being being able to share their own works. In the face of the possibility that DMCA takedown notices targeting institutional repositories may increase, what can authors do?

  • Review the terms of your publishing agreement: Many journal publishing agreements allow for journal authors to self-archive pre-print versions of their articles on personal websites, university repositories, and author networking sites (sometimes with an embargo period). Check the terms of your agreement to see whether this is permitted, and, if so, replace your article with an allowed version.
  • Review your institution’s open access policy: If your institution has an open access policy, it may allow you to deposit a copy of your work in your institutional repository without infringing on your publisher’s rights. If in doubt, check with your institution’s Copyright or Scholarly Communications Office.
  • Retain the rights you need to make future works available in the ways you want: When presented with a publishing contract, review the terms of the contract and don’t be shy about negotiating for terms that allow you to share your work on personal websites, university repositories, and author networking sites. For more information on how to negotiate with your publisher to allow you to share your work, see Chapter 6 of our guide to Understanding Open Access. You can also review journal publishers’ standard policies regarding self-archiving on the SHERPA/RoMEO database and opt to submit your work to journals that give you more control of your work.
  • Reach out to your institution’s Copyright or Scholarly Communications Office:  Copyright and scholarly communications staff can help you understand what rights you retained in your publication agreement, whether any version of your work can be posted online, and whether a copy can be uploaded to your institution’s repository. They can also help you understand your publishing contract before you sign.

For more information, check out our FAQ on copyright, which outlines some of the ways that authors can manage their copyrights in innovative ways, including with regard to academic journals. And our guide to Understanding Open Access provides even more detail about OA publication strategies.

Summer Reading List: Copyright Edition!

Posted June 13, 2017

Summer is here, and it’s the perfect time to relax with a good book. There are all kinds of reading lists out there—from fun reads for the beach, to prize-winning books you might have missed, to books on a favorite hobby or a faraway destination. Here at Authors Alliance, we like to keep up our copyright chops all year ’round, and we know that many of our members do, too. So, for a slightly different take on summer reading, here are some suggestions for new books that will keep you up to date on the latest in copyright, open access, and more!

Screen-Shot-2017-06-13-at-11.29.05-AMFirst up is Creativity without Law: Challenging the Assumptions of Intellectual Property,  edited by Kate Darling and Aaron Perzanowski, and published by NYU Press. This collection features essays about diverse creative communities by a number of noted IP scholars (and Authors Alliance members!), including David Fagundes, Aaron Perzanowski, Christopher Sprigman, Katherine Strandburg, Rebecca Tushnet, and Eric Von Hippel.

The book demonstrates how creative endeavors, from cinema and fanfic to fine cuisine and roller derby, push the boundaries and assumptions of intellectual property through community norms and self-regulation. As Perzanowski and Darling write in their introduction, “While IP is a crucial tool for maintaining creative incentives in some industries, scholars of creativity already understand that the assumptions underlying the IP system largely ignore the range of powerful non-economic motivations that compel creative efforts. From painters to open source developers, many artists and inventors are moved to create, not by the hope for monetary return, but by innate urges that are often quite resistant to financial considerations.”

In a similar vein is Made by Creative ComMade With Creative Commons - Covermons, by Paul Stacey and Sarah Hinchliff Pearson. It’s a collection of real-life examples that highlights the advantages of using CC licenses, both for sharing work and for building a sustainable business model. Case studies include everything from the party game Cards Against Humanity to the Public Library of Science (PLoS) to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

“Part analysis, part handbook, part collection of case studies, we see Made With Creative Commons as a guide to sharing your knowledge and creativity with the world, and sustaining your operation while you do. It makes the case that sharing is good for business, especially for companies, organizations, and creators who care about more than just the bottom line. Full of practical advice and inspiring stories, Made with Creative Commons is a book that will show you what it really means to share.”

The book is available as a free download (under a CC license, of course!), and may also be purchased in a print edition.

9781760460808-b-thumb-copyrightNew in paperback from Australian National University Press is What if We Could Reimagine Copyright?, a collection of essays by international scholars about the possibilities of copyright, edited by Authors Alliance members Rebecca Giblin and Kimberlee Weatherall. Like Creative Commons, ANU Press offers the book as a free download, as well as in print.

“What if we could start with a blank slate, and write ourselves a brand new copyright system? What if we could design a law, from scratch, unconstrained by existing treaty obligations, business models and questions of political feasibility? Would we opt for radical overhaul, or would we keep our current fundamentals? Which parts of the system would we jettison? Which would we keep? In short, what might a copyright system designed to further the public interest in the current legal and sociological environment actually look like? Taking this thought experiment as their starting point, the leading international thinkers represented in this collection reconsider copyright’s fundamental questions: the subject matter that should be protected, the ideal scope and duration of those rights, and how it should be enforced.”

Free Innovation - CoverFinally, we recommend Free Innovation by Eric Von Hippel, available in full as an open access title from MIT Press.

“Free innovation has both advantages and drawbacks. Because free innovators are self-rewarded by such factors as personal utility, learning, and fun, they often pioneer new areas before producers see commercial potential. At the same time, because they give away their innovations, free innovators generally have very little incentive to invest in diffusing what they create, which reduces the social value of their efforts.

The best solution, von Hippel and his colleagues argue, is a division of labor between free innovators and producers, enabling each to do what they do best. The result will be both increased producer profits and increased social welfare—a gain for all.”

Von Hippel’s book is just one of many titles that MIT Press has made openly available, and thanks to an exciting new partnership with Internet Archive, the MIT Press backlist will soon be available online as well. We’re following that project with great interest, and will provide more information and updates, so stay tuned for even more great reading to come!