Authors Alliance firmly believes in the importance of open licensing to vibrant and productive scholarship. But open licensing is legally complex and simply calling a license “open” does not make it so. We need open licenses that work to promote access and that enable open resources from various publication platforms to be used together in innovative ways.
The Association of Scientific, Technical and Medical Publishers (STM) recently released a set of model licenses for use in open access publication. Unfortunately, these licenses do not actually provide the openness they promise. Instead, each license places significant restrictions on reuse of covered publications, including a vague and ominous prohibition on “misrepresent[ing]” the “meaning, interpretation, context and conclusions” of a covered work. Even worse, the licenses are incompatible with existing standard licenses (including Creative Commons licenses), and they will therefore cause more confusion and expense than progress.
Accordingly, Authors Alliance has joined with more than fifty other organizations in calling for STM to withdraw its licenses.
Authors Alliance wants a world in which, as the letter says, knowledge “is accessible, usable, reusable and interoperable.” Going forward, we should “work within the legal frameworks that have already been globally adopted as a base for building the rest of the tools we need to make this a reality.”