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Rockefeller U. Press Uses CC Licenses to Reduce Permission Barriers

May 1st, 2008 by Thinh

Leading by example, the Rockefeller University Press has issued a bold challenge to other non-OA publishers to find new ways to strike a balance between sustainable publishing and advancing authors’ freedoms and the public interest. The Press adopted a new copyright policy that returns essential freedoms to authors and extends permissions to the public that are vital to advancing science. This new policy covers its journals, which include the prestigious Journal of Cell Biology, The Journal of Experimental Medicine and The Journal of General Physiology.

Under the policy, there are two license periods. An initial license, available during the first six month period after publication, permits sharing and reuse of the work, but prohibits distribution through mirror sites (whether commercial or non-commercial). After this six months, the Press grants the public a standard Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License. These two licenses differ only in the mirroring prohibition clause — otherwise, the conditions are essentially similar.

The new policy covers all of the Press’s archives as well. This opens up a rich resource to text-mining and knowledge integration, using technologies such as our Neurocommons project. This allows the corpus of scientific knowledge to be upgraded to take advantage of the Web. That opportunity that been largely missed for vast tracts of the scientific literature, not due to lack of interest or technological means, but due to the lack of access and copyright permission.

The significance of this announcement lies not only in the importance of the journals involved, but also in demonstrating that we need not yield to the false dichotomy between sustainability and access. Finding ways to strike a reasonable balance requires forward-thinking leadership. By going beyond what the NIH Public Access Policy requires and using Creative Commons licenses to remove not only access but permission barriers, the Press is demonstrating that leadership and its commitment to the interests of the community that it serves.

Here’s an excerpt from the terrific editorial by Emma Hill, Executive Editor, The Journal of Cell Biology and Mike Rossner, Executive Editor, The Rockefeller University Press:

Preying on authors’ desire to publish, and thus their willingness to sign virtually any form placed in front of them, scientific publishers have traditionally required authors to sign over the copyright to their work before publication. [...]

At The Rockefeller University Press, we have followed this tradition in the past and obtained copyright from authors as a condition of publication. Several years ago, however, we recognized that the advent of the internet had irrevocably changed the nature and mechanisms of knowledge distribution, and we returned some of those rights to authors. Since July 2000, we have allowed our authors to freely distribute their published work by posting the final, formatted PDF version on their own websites immediately after publication.

With the growing demand for public access to published data, we recently started depositing all of our content in PubMed Central. In a further step to enhance the utility of scientific content, we have now decided to return copyright to our authors. In return, however, we require authors to make their work available for reuse by the public. Instead of relinquishing copyright, our authors will now provide us with a license to publish their work. This license, however, places no restrictions on how authors can reuse their own work; we only require them to attribute the work to its original publication. Six months after publication, third parties (that is, anyone who is not an author) can use the material we publish under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0). [...]

We are pleased to finally comply with the original spirit of copyright in our continuing effort to promote public access to the published biomedical literature.

One Response

  1. Rockefeller U. Press Uses CC Licenses to Reduce Permission Barriers – Creative Commons, on May 1st, 2008 at 2:14 pm

    [...] the Science Commons blog, Thinh Nguyen on Rockefeller University Press’ recent [...]