Sunday, June 29, 2008

Two new policies widen the path to balanced copyright management: Developments on author rights

Karla Hahn in the July/August 2008 issue of C&RL News discusses recent developments in copyright management and author rights. She focuses in particular on a) the April 2008 policy by the National Institutes of Health requiring investigators to deposit their articles stemming from NIH funding in the NIH online archive, PubMed Central; and b) the Feb. 2008 Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences vote to require that authors deposit their peer reviewed articles in Harvard’s digital repository and that they assign copyright permission to Harvard to preserve and to disseminate these articles ( in May 2008 faculty in Harvard Law School emulated their colleagues in Arts and Science).

With these two watershed developments, libraries have a new opportunity to educate and advocate for the development of a new generation of institutional policies on author rights management, one geared to the opportunities of networked digital technologies and built on the foundations of recent developments in rights management tools and institutional and disciplinary repositories. For librarians considering how best to help campus authors promote a healthy culture of copyright on campus—one that promotes research, teaching, learning, and service to society—a recent SPARC/Science Commons white paper, “Open Doors and Open Minds: What Faculty Authors Can Do to Ensure Open Access to Their Work Through Their Institution,” discusses several action strategies promoting the development of institutional policies.

Norms are always more difficult to change than technologies. We are now witnessing a key shift in norms for sharing scholarly work that promises a giant step forward in leveraging the potential of network technologies and digital scholarship to advance research, teaching, policy development, professional practice, and technology transfer. Librarians need to seek and promote today’s burgeoning opportunities to accelerate these positive changes toward openness. The next important strategy to pursue is developing institutional policies that ensure institutions receive limited distribution rights.

The full article is available here.

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