Green open-access does NOT mean delayed or non-commercial

February 14, 2018

Open-access journalist Richard Poynder posted a really good interview today with the Gates Foundation’s Associate Officer of Knowledge & Research Services, Ashley Farley. I feel bad about picking on one fragment of it, but I really can’t let this bit pass:

RP: As you said, Gates-funded research publications must now have a CC BY licence attached. They must also be made OA immediately. Does this imply that the Gates foundation sees no role for green OA? If it does see a role for green OA what is that role?

AF: I wouldn’t say that the foundation doesn’t see value or a role for green open access. However, the policy requires immediate access, reuse and copyright arrangements that green open access does not necessarily provide.

Before I get into this, let me say again that I have enormous admiration for what Ashley Farley and the Gates Foundation are doing for open access, and for open scholarship more widely. But:

The (excellent) Gates policy requires immediate access, reuse and copyright arrangements that gold open access does not necessarily provide, either. It provides them only because the Gates Foundation has quite rightly twisted publishers’ arms, and said you can only have our APCs if you meet our requirements.

And if green open access doesn’t provide immediate access and reuse, then that is because funders have not twisted publishers’ arms to allow this.

It’s perfectly possible to have a Green OA repository in which all the deposited papers are available immediately and licenced using CC By. It’s perfectly possible for a funder, university or other body to have a green OA policy that mandates this.

But it’s true that no-one seems to have a green OA policy that does this.

Why not?

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6 Responses to “Green open-access does NOT mean delayed or non-commercial”

  1. Stuart Taylor Says:

    you are absolutely right, Mike. I point this out to people too. There is no delay inherent in the green OA idea. As for your question, I guess the policy that comes closest is the proposed UK Scholarly Communications Licence which has zero embargo and a CC-BY-NC licence

  2. Mike Taylor Says:

    Good call on the UKSC! It certainly seems to be the strongest game in town where Green OA is concerned; is there a provision to revisiting to require CC By in a future version? That would remove the last of the apparent distinctions between Gold and Green.

  3. Stuart Taylor Says:

    Mike, the UK-SCL will be reviewed annually. As it has been primarily designed to simplify self-archiving requirements of the major UK and European funders, it has taken its CC licence from those. We are certainly keen, down the line, for a more liberal licence to be used – one trigger might be where major funder policies become more liberal/progressive.

  4. Mike Taylor Says:

    Thanks, Stuart, this is great to know.

  5. Thomas Munro Says:

    I strongly agree that immediate CC-BY should be mandatory, Mike.
    The only rationale I can see for delayed, gratis-only mandates is to minimize opposition from paywalled “publishers”, and achieve incremental progress.
    I think that was once a very sensible compromise for individual institutions, given the ferocious opposition to the E-Biomed proposal in 1999, and determined attempts to prohibit even the watered-down NIH mandate as recently as 2008. Delayed gratis access was better than the status quo of no access. Something was better than nothing.
    But given that everyone already has gratis access to everything illicitly via Sci-Hub, and huge and rapidly growing amounts via gray areas like Researchgate, I’d say that compromise no longer makes sense. Something is not better than everything.
    Beyond being immediate and libre, mandates should also be nation-wide, rather than piecemeal, one institution at a time. Publishers still clearly have the leverage to scare individual universities out of hard mandates by denying them the ability to publish in glam mags, while competing universities can. It’s a standard first-mover problem. Divide and conquer.
    But publishers have much less leverage against national governments. Clearly they have some; witness the watering down of the US FASTR bill to a 12 month embargo with no license, i.e. no progress over the legal status quo, much less the illicit reality. But the ultimate victory of the NIH mandate, and the defeat of the Research Works Act etc, shows that that opposition can be overcome.
    A strong equivalent of FASTR, immediate libre, is the only fight worth having at this point. Better a long, hard fight for strong national mandates than easier fights for less than we already have.

  6. Mike Taylor Says:

    Very true on the greater power or national mandates.

    We really must write something about the UKSCL here.


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