Monday, December 21, 2009

OCA vs. Google Books

Heather Morrison's preprint "Open Content Alliance (OCA) vs. Google Books: OCA as superior network and better fit for an emerging global public sphere" is both interesting and provocative.

Extracts from her conclusion:

The Open Content Alliance has been quietly and legally building a substantive network organization and collections, already over 1.6 million items, in a manner that will support the development and growth of a fully global public sphere. . . .

OCA displays key characteristics of networks, including connectedness, consistency, flexibility, scalability, and survivability. OCA has networking power, the ability to include or exclude potential nodes, based on the OCA principles which provide the basis for network power, and network-making power, or the ability to form strategic alliances. Google Books, in contrast, is a corporation with partnerships; while some aspects are network-like, Google Books lacks connectedness and consistency, and may lack flexibility and survivability, as illustrated by the stalling of Google Books for years by a class action lawsuit. . . .

OCA is an organization that is a good fit for an emerging global public sphere. The aims of widest possible access and re-use rights mean optimized access to collections for everywhere, everywhere. The approach of respect for copyright holders, contributors and the public through a legislated approach to public issues such as orphan works is compatible with, and supportive of, an ongoing healthy public sphere in the sense of democratic discourse and decision-making. While Google Books does include some elements that are supportive of a public sphere, particularly increased access to books and especially free access to public domain books, some aspects of the current iteration of the Google Books settlement are very problematic for the public sphere. The settlement per se brings issues that arguably belong to the public sphere, such as the fate of orphan works, into private contract negotiations. The parties of the settlement are not only not inclusive of the public at large, they are not even representative of all those affected. . . . The public service like appearance of Google, based as it is on Google’s focus on nonintrusive advertising, is deceptive. Google is a for-profit business, and most of Google Books will be for sale. The Google Books approach is challenged with national copyright legislation, which may result in a fracturing of collections along national lines which could result in increasing disparity in access to books and decreasing diversity of what might be a heavily used collection; both of these are divisive elements that move us away from, rather than towards, a global public sphere.

OCA is one illustration of the emerging library of the global public sphere, a network of libraries and like-minded organizations cooperating to provide the broadest possible public with the most possible access to the world’s knowledge, literature and culture. The emerging global library network, implementing a long-held desire and tendency of libraries made possible through technological developments . . . is a public good that supports the emerging global public sphere, facilitating both education in general and specific information-seeking in particular, both essential elements for conducting informed public debate in a global democratic public sphere.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A White House Invitation

The December 11th issue of Open Access News has an item about an invitation from the Obama administration's Office of Science & Technology Policy for the public and "various stakeholders" to submit answers to questions about an open access policy for scholarly articles based on federally funded research. The first phase of the discussion will focus on two questions:
  • Who should enact public access policies?
  • How should a public access policy be designed?
The article closes with the following: "We welcome your thoughtful comments in this open and participatory forum." The OSTP blog's web address is

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Dramatic Growth of Open Access

Heather Morrison's post, dated December 11, in the Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics, contains encouraging charts and graphs illustrating the dramtic growth of open access during 2009.

2009: a great year for OA!
While dramatic growth continues in all aspects of open access, the story of the year and especially of the last quarter is a dramatic leap in open access mandate policies, particularly institutional and departmental policies. In the past year, institutional mandates (as recorded on ROARMAP) more than tripled, from 25 to 79. Nearly half that growth has come in the past week, from just one country - Finland, with its recent announcement of open access mandate policies at all 26 of Finland's applied sciences universities, as reported by Peter Suber on Open Access News.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Universities and Open Acess Funds

In the latest issue of Learned Publishing Stephen Pinfield has authored "Paying for open access? Institutional funding streams and OA publication charges"

The abstract:
An increasing number of research funders are introducing open access (OA) policies. At the same time, publishers are introducing OA publication options. Research institutions need to consider how to respond to these developments, including the possible introduction of institutionally co-ordinated funds for payment of OA publication charges. This paper describes the international background to the issue of institutional OA funds and summarizes the current UK situation, presenting recently gathered data from UK institutions. It then reports on work carried out by the University of Nottingham to introduce and manage an institutional OA fund. Early usage data of the Nottingham fund are presented. The paper outlines lessons learned from the Nottingham experience, then goes on to suggest a number of ways in which institutions and other agencies can take developments forward.
The article's conclusion:
If OA publishing models are to become widely accepted and adopted, research funders, institutions, and other agencies need to put in place policies, procedures, and workflows which support them. Setting up institutionally co-ordinated arrangements for the funding of OA publication fees and ensuring such funds are properly resourced are important steps in this direction. It is essential that institutions and others monitor activity in this area and share their experiences with other key players in the scholarly communication community in order to ensure good practice norms emerge and achieve widespread acceptance.
Full article

Wednesday, December 2, 2009