What the UC “open access” policy should say

The joint faculty senate of the ten campuses of the University of California has floated a trial balloon “open access” policy. I, of course, laud the effort to move the ball forward on open access, but the proposed policy falls short in two key ways.

1) The rights reserved by the University are too limited. Rather than granting UC the right to redistribute the article, the policy should place all scholarly works produced by UC faculty under a Creative Commons Attribution License.

2) There should be no “opt-out” provision.

Here is my edited version of the proposal (my additions are in green):

The Faculty of The University of California is committed to disseminating its research and scholarship as widely as possible. In keeping with that commitment, the Faculty adopts the following policy:

Each Faculty member grants to The University of California permission to make available his or her scholarly articles and to exercise the copyright in those articles.

More specifically, each Faculty member grants to The California Digital Library, acting on behalf of the Regents of the University of California, a nonexclusive,  irrevocable, worldwide license to exercise any and all rights under copyright relating to each of his or her scholarly articles, in any medium, provided that the articles are not sold for a profit, and to authorize others to do the same.

Each Faculty member will provide a copy of each of their scholarly articles, in any medium, to  The California Digital Library, acting on behalf of the Regents of the University of California, who will make these articles available under a Creative Commons Attribution License that grants any users the right to redistribute and reuse the work provided that proper credit for its authorship is retained.

The policy applies to all scholarly articles authored or co-authored while the person is a member of the Faculty except for any articles completed before the adoption of this policy and any articles for which the Faculty member entered into an incompatible licensing or assignment agreement before the adoption of this policy.

Following adoption of this policy, faculty will not enter into any agreement with any third party that limits their ability to comply with this policy.

The University of California will waive application of the license for a particular article or delay access for a specified period of time upon express direction by a Faculty member.

Each Faculty member will provide an electronic copy of the author’s final version of each article no later than the date of its publication at no charge to the California Digital Library, or its successors, in an appropriate format. The California Digital Library, or its successors, may will make the article available in an open access repository immediately upon, or, with author consent, prior to its formal publication.

The California Digital Library, or its successors, will be responsible for interpreting this policy, resolving disputes concerning its interpretation and application, and recommending changes to the Faculty from time to time.

The policy will be reviewed after three years and a report presented to the Faculty.

Of course getting the faculty to agree to this would be great, but there is a greater need to get the administration to engage in the issue of how the work of its faculty should be communicated – something on which they, like virtually all other universities, have a very poor track record.

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  1. Posted May 4, 2012 at 6:11 am | Permalink

    Is there anything that we non-Berkeleyites can do to encourage the adoption of your suggested stronger wording rather than the original?

  2. David States
    Posted May 22, 2012 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

    Is it responsible stewardship of public funds to not require open access publication? 1) Even a wealthy institution like Harvard finds that the economics of proprietary publication are unsustainable. If you are a public institution with unsustainable you have an obligation to rectify the situation. 2) How does Berkley justify using public funds to support faculty time and effort spent in support of proprietary publishers when Berkley faculty “volunteer” their time as reviewers and editors. Note that faculty are not actually volunteering their personal time, they are volunteering non-grant supported tax payer supported time. If this were in service of open access publication, it could be justified as achieving the mission of the University, but the publication of proprietary journals does not benefit the public, only the paid subscribers of those journals. 3) Is the University of California appropriately compensated for the value of the intellectual property transferred to proprietary publishers when faculty transfer copyright on scientific publications? This is clearly valuable intellectual property, the public spends many thousands of dollars to support the research behind a single publication, and the proprietary publishers safeguard their copyrights carefully. Again, if copyright was placed under an open access agreement, this would be transferring public IP to the public directly, and there would be no problem. However, giving public property to private entities without a transparent, open and competitive process is illegal. As a responsible steward of public resources, the University has an obligation to insure that the public is appropriately compensated if intellectual property is transferred to a private entity.

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