Blog archive for April, 2007

Copyright and fair use in the blogosphere

April 30th, 2007 by Kaitlin Thaney

A recent incident in the blogosphere has sparked a discussion on the role of copyright and fair use laws in the digital world.

Last week, Shelley Batts – a PhD student – was accused of a fair use violation for pulling a figure and a chart from a scientific paper to post on her blog. Soon after Batts posted the data on her site, she received a cease-and-desist letter via e-mail from lawyers from the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, a journal owned by John Wiley. The representative who contacted her accused her of violating fair use by reproducing the material from the journal on her blog. Batts soon took down the figures, reproduced the data in an Excel format, and avoided legal penalty.

Her experience raises a larger question, though. In the world of blogging where cutting and pasting is common practice, how do copyright and fair use laws apply? Katherine Sharpe addressed this very question on ScienceBlogs, calling on Springer Publishing’s Johannes Velterop and Science Commons’ John Wilbanks to comment.

The post, “Blogging and Fair Use”, looked at how fair use should be interpreted from the traditional notion in the world of publishing to how it applies to the blogosphere.

Velterop, the Director of Open Access at Springer, tackles the funding model for scientific literature, shedding light on copyright as a kind of “payment” in scholarly research.

He said,

“Copyright is [..] a kind of ‘payment’ on the part of the author for the services of ‘formalising,’ officially publishing, their article in a peer-reviewed journal. Obviously, copyright is a poor mechanism to pay for those services. Not least because it comes with restrictive access. Much better to simply pay for those services with money, keep the copyright in the process, and publish your articles with open access, making all use of the material free, or at least all non-commercial use, on condition of proper acknowledgement.”

Wilbanks, the Vice President for Science Commons at Creative Commons, spoke about the difficulties of copyright in adapting to culture and technological changes.

He said,

“We don’t know what technological advancements the future will bring, and our guesses are likely to be wrong. Just think of our visions of plastic domed houses and flying cars. So this is exactly the kind of situation that the open access movement is trying to address. By granting explicit permission to reuse at the outset, you’re never worried about violations and takedown letters, and you can use new tools as soon as they emerge.

But right now, it’s sort of a trope in the community that in the U.S., “fair use” is the right to call an attorney. I’m glad to see Shelley stand up for her rights and hope the journals are going to learn what the scientific community will and won’t accept. They work as part and parcel of science culture, and the community will certainly do some self-regulation there.”

ScienceBlogs is part of SEED Magazine. For more on Batts’ fair use situation, visit her blog.

Repository guide now available from OAK Law

April 26th, 2007 by Kaitlin Thaney

A new guide to digital repository use and maintenance is now available, thanks to the Open Access to Knowledge (OAK) Law Project in Queensland, Australia. Launched on April 18, the guide provides background on copyright as it relates to digital repositories and Open Access.

From an announcement on the OAK Law’s Web site:

‘A Guide to Developing Open Access Through Your Digital Repository’ examines and explains the copyright issues involved in depositing and accessing material in digital repositories. It also considers how open access can be best developed for digital repositories in line with legal protocols.

The guide focuses on effective management and promotion of digital repositories and in doing so, examines the relationships between the parties involved in the deposit and access process. Licensing requirements and options are also considered in detail. Finally, the guide touches on more technical considerations, such as software and metadata.

We see the guide as a building block towards a broader accessibility framework. While the focus is Australian law, it has potential to be adapted to other jurisdictions.”

This incredibly informative document is available for free on OAK Law’s Web site.

OAI5 presentations

April 26th, 2007 by Kaitlin Thaney

Presentations from last week’s CERN workshop on Innovations in Scholarly Communications (OAI5)are now available on their Web site. The site holds not only the slides from the variety of presentations, but also a video of each panel.

The workshop, now in its fifth year, began April 17 and closed on April 20. Over 222 participants came to Geneva, Switzerland for the OA conferenc e. Science Commons’ John Wilbanks was one of those in attendance, speaking about the OA principles found in our work. The video, as well as his slides, can be found under the 9:30-11:30 a.m. session on Friday.

Science Commons goes virtual

April 13th, 2007 by Kaitlin Thaney

John Wilbanks will be giving a talk in the virtual world Second Life this Monday (4/16). Taking on avatar-form for his first official SL speaking engagement, Wilbanks will be giving an introduction to Science Commons. The talk – “Scientific Research and the Creative Commons Methodology” – will shed light on the application of CC copyright licenses in a research context for science. The talk will also examine the application of CC methods such as standard human-readable contracts and technology implementations of contracts to non-digital materials (such as DNA, stem cells, research animals).

An avatar is required to attend this lecture, which can be acquired for free on Second Life’s Web site.

The event will take place at the Science Center on Info Island II at 1 p.m. EST/ 10 a.m. SL time.

Video of panel on copyright, research and teaching now on MITWorld

April 13th, 2007 by Kaitlin Thaney

The video from January’s panel “Copyright Unlocked: Managing Copyright to Advance Research and Teaching at MIT” is now available on MITWorld. The event was sponsored by MIT Libraries.

Science Commons’ Thinh Nguyen joined other members of the MIT community to discuss copyright in the academic world and its role in scholarly publishing. The 2-hour session served to open the lines of discussion about these key topics as well as educate MIT authors about open access – taking a closer look at the current schools of thought and policies regarding access to research.

Speakers included:
Claude Canizares, Associate Provost
Brian Evans, EAPS Professor of Geophysics
Thinh Nguyen, Science Commons Counsel
Ann Hammersla, MIT Intellectual Property Counsel
Ann Wolpert, Director, MIT Libraries
Ellen Duranceau, MIT Libraries Scholarly Publishing and Licensing Consultant

For more information about the event or to access the 101 minute webcast, visit MITWorld’s Web site.

EU Commissioner calls for emphasis on knowledge

April 10th, 2007 by Kaitlin Thaney

A commissioner of Science and Research for the European Union has called for “knowledge” to be added as the fifth community freedom. The four other freedoms recognized from the EU Treaty are goods, services, capital and labor.

Janez Potocnik proposed this idea at the launch of his green paper, “The European Research Area: New Perspectives”, last week. The paper outlines the components necessary to maximize the potential in the European Research Area (ERA) with a new emphasis – the movement of knowledge.

From the paper, he writes:

“Generation, diffusion and exploitation of knowledge are at the core of the research system. In particular, access to knowledge generated by the public research base and its use by business and policymakers lie at the heart of the European Research Area, where knowledge must circulate without barriers throughout the whole society.

State-of-the-art knowledge is crucial for successful research in any scientific discipline. Reliable, affordable and permanent access to, and widespread dissemination of, scientific research results should therefore become defining principles for Europe’s research landscape. The digital era has opened up numerous possibilities in this respect.”

Sharing knowledge, as Potocnik discusses, is critical in science. But there is little open, public infrastructure for knowledge management in the sciences. Knowledge is more than just data or papers. Knowledge is also implicit in the tools and knowhow of science – the “tacit” knowledge that is hard to codify and share using the traditional systems. It’s important to focus on how new technologies like Semantic Web can codify knowledge and how transaction systems can move physical knowledge (think biological materials) between scientists, just as it’s important to work on moving papers and data around.

The initiatives proposed in Potocnik’s green paper call for similar solutions, stressing that the ERA needs an “internal market” for research, where researchers, technology and knowledge can move “freely”.

To read more about the Green Paper launch and Potocnik’s thoughts, see their press release. You can also read this paper in its entirety on the ERA’s Web site.

Notes available from EC conference on copyright, DRM

April 10th, 2007 by Kaitlin Thaney

Two participants of the recent conference held by the European Commission have made their presentations and notes available to Science Commons. The two-day conference entitled “Scientific Publishing in the European Research Area – Access, Dissemination, and Preservation in the Digital Age” was held this past February in Brussels.

The notes from Jamie Watt (Intellectual Property Advisor, Heriot-Watt University) and Wilma Mossink (copyright and publishing agreements expert, legal adviser to SURF Foundation) can be found here, adding to the array of resources already linked to off of the event’s Web page. The notes from Watt and powerpoint presentation from Mossink reflect on a parallel workshop called “Copyright and Digital Rights Management.”

Science Commons’ John Wilbanks was also a part of this workshop and presented the report on copyrights and DRM. To access that presentation, click here. For more information about the conference and this workshop, we encourage you to visit our March 21st post.

UPDATE: Christine Reid (Solicitor, Oxford) has also made her notes available from this workshop.

Jamie Watt – panel notes
Wilma Mossink – powerpoint
Christine Reid – paper