Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

Long, interesting, and important essay by Richard Poynder on open access (20 page PDF). The context is an interview with Paul Royster (pictured), who has established the second largest institutional repository in the US at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with some 60K open access works. A great accomplishment. But he is surprised to see it attacked by open access advocates. "He was startled to hear SPARC announce to delegates that henceforth the sine qua non of open access is that a work has to be made available with a CC BY licence or equivalent attached... the OA movement no longer views what he is doing as open access."

Well, I've had this argument with people before. I have long felt that the insistence on CC-by (which allows commercial reuse) comes not from actual proponents of open access, but by commercial publishers promoting their own interests. That's what we see represented in this article. "The OA movement’s failure to address the definition problem, and its willingness to “partner” with publishers is enabling publishers to bend and mould OA to their needs rather than the needs of the research community." How? "By insisting on CC BY, the OA movement is encouraging publishers to further increase their prices — and without providing any additional value."

Additionally, CC-by sets the stage for the enclosure of open access works. The University of Ottawa's Heather Morrison explains: "Picture Elsevier buying out Hindawi, for example (is this more far-fetched than Elsevier buying out Mendeley or Springer buying BMC), then including Hindawi content in ScienceDirect and shutting down the Hindawi OA sites." In the LMS world it would be like Blackboard buying out companies that offer open access software like, say, MoodleRooms. She adds, "there is nothing to stop publishers from lobbying against public spending on archives (have people really not noticed that governments around the world are listening to such arguments)?" (See also)

For my part, I continue to support what is called 'Green' open access, in which authors and institutions archive their own work, without the intervention (and expense) of publishers, and in which, for me, and for the people who have actually promoted open access, open access is “immediate, permanent online access, free for all on the Web” (with no reference to, or need for, a specific licence). And I will go further and say that Creative Commons and organizations like SPARC, by privileging CC-by, are actually harming rather than helping open access.

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Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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Copyright 2021
Last Updated: Mar 30, 2021 4:29 p.m.