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Posts from the ‘Law’ Category

How the Society for Cultural Anthropology is Speaking Out About the Research Works Act #RWA

In a recent post, I posed the question that many scholars are asking of the scholarly societies to which they belong and of the publishers with whom they work. The question concerns the stance taken by such societies and publishers with respect to the Research Works Act (H.R. 3699). The American Association of Publishers supports this proposed U.S. law, which would roll back open access policies at the National Institutes of Health and block other federal agencies of establishing public access requirements for funded research. (Many good online sources exist for learning more about this bill.) The bill is opposed by the library community, open access advocates, public interest groups, many scholars, and some not-for-profit publishers.

In my post I asked where the American Anthropological Association stood on the Research Works Act. Today we learned from Mike Fortun that the board of one AAA section, the Society for Cultural Anthropology (SCA), has come out against H.R. 3699 and has urged the AAA as a whole to follow its lead. I am very thankful for the Society for Cultural Anthropology’s leadership on these issues, including its call for a AAA statement of position.

See the SCA statement here: http://savageminds.org/2012/01/17/the-question-is-not-does-but-can/#comment-715385

Joining the SOPA Blackout

The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA H.R. 3261), the Protect IP Act (PIPA S. 968) and the Research Works Act (H.R. 3699) are terrible proposed laws that, if enacted, will greatly harm the public interest. If I can make things work, Shreds and Patches will be offline tomorrow (1/18) as part of the wider SOPA Blackout. Get online and learn more about these proposals and their likely impacts. Here is a video to get started with.

Does the AAA Support or Oppose the Research Works Act? @AmericanAnthro

As Richard Poynder has reported, and as has been repeatedly retweeted, MIT Press (a distinguished university press publisher of important books and journals), ITHAKA (the organization behind JSTOR, among other core projects and resources), and Penn State University Press (another distinguished university press) are among the first members of the Association of American Publishers to speak out against the Research Works Act (H.R. 3699), distancing themselves from the pro-H.R. 3699 position taken by the AAP. Scholars, librarians, and public interest advocates concerned with advancing positive reform in scholarly communication work are praising these not-for-profit, public interest publishers for their leadership and for clearly distancing their organizations (and by association their authors and publishing partners) from the Research Works Act. Appreciative of this expression of support for scholarly communication in the public interest and against what is ultimately a bad bill serving private interests at the expense of public ones, I am inclined to support these publishers more vigorously in whatever ways that I can.

As I tweeted after the news of MIT Press’ disavowal circulated yesterday, I wonder which of the scholarly societies belonging to the AAP will demonstrate similar leadership by speaking out against H.R. 3699? As an anthropologist, I would love for the American Anthropological Association to follow the lead of these publishers and disavow the Research Works Act. Given its earlier opposition to the Federal Research Public Access Act (see also this and this), its publishing partnership with Wiley, and its more recent general statements (see also this) questioning open access mandates, I am not expecting such a response, but if there had been a change of position within the Association’s leadership, the current moment provides a perfect, high profile opportunity to express this change of stance and to repair some of the damage done to the association’s reputation in the context of the scholarly communication debates of the past five years.

Put most clearly, does the AAA leadership support or oppose the Research Works Act H.R. 3699? I know that I am not alone in wondering?

Three Cheers for the Librarians–Lets Help Them Help Us

Three cheers for the librarians who look after us, whether we know it or not. As a student, teacher, researcher, and citizen I work with a wide range of information resources everyday. Whether I step into a library building or not, a large proportion of those resources are available to me because librarians work to make them available to me. Even when I use resources that come to me without the direct intervention of librarians and library staff, I am benefiting from the worlds of education, research, and democratic governance, including values of access and privacy, that librarians work hard to foster and defend everyday. I cannot say thank you enough for their work.

In his round up on “Anthropology and Open Access” (dealing with HR 3699 and SOPA), Jason Antrosio at Anthropology Report has kindly cited my comment on Ryan Anderson’s Savage Minds post on these themes. Under my own by-line, here is what I said in response to Ryan’s post. (Ryan is the Savage Mind who kindly interviewed me on OA issues in anthropology a while back.)

It is crucial that faculty and graduate students are part of the push back (against SOPA and HR 3699) for a number of reasons. One of which is that we need, in doing so, to give the librarians a morale boost. They have been fighting for us on this front for decades with too few of us knowing or caring about it. They have been getting tired, really tired. The way that, on this one, faculty and graduate students have been unusually vocal, has been encouraging to them. We need their help. Keep it up.

Thankfully tons of smart people have been explaining the problems with H.R. 3699 and SOPA. I could list links all day. If you do not yet know about these issues, dive in quickly and get them figured out.

Association of American Publishers Issues Horrible New Press Release in Support of a Horrible Bill: Where Do You Stand?

The Association of American Publishers has issued a awful new press release expressing enthusiasm for the Research Works Act, H.R. 3699 describing it as “significant legislation that will help reinforce America’s leadership in scholarly and scientific publishing in the public interest and in the critical peer-review system that safeguards the quality of such research.”

This is just the latest in an endless, dispiriting series of commercial publisher FUD campaigns and efforts at the further corporate enclosure of public resources. Advocates for the public interest in scholarship will resist H.R. 3699 and those with vested profits in the terrible status quo will support it. As with FRPAA, as always, a key question is where will the scholarly societies stand? Another is whether any more academic authors and editors will wake up and consider their role in the perpetuation of a system that is not only dysfunctional but also increasingly corrupt and immoral.

Money in politics? Corporate personhood? Policies that harm the poorest and help the most affluent? Academic authors–many of you are not connecting the dots that lead to your own practices.

Another question is where do those AAP members that are not-for-profit university presses (Chicago, California, Hawaii, North Carolina, Illinois (sigh), Texas, Tennessee) stand? Is the AAP speaking for you on this one? Don’t forget PRISM, y’all.

On Green OA and the Future of AAA Publishing at #AAA2011

Yesterday I participated in the forum on the “Future of AAA Publishing” that was staged during the 2011 American Anthropological Association meetings. I joined this event because I was asked to do so by Michael F. Brown, a fine colleague who would is working hard to be helpful in the organization’s scholarly communications vision quest. My prepared remarks from the event are offered below CC-BY-NC-SA 2.0). Readers of my statement will see that I did not really address the future as much as try to engage the muddled present. I care very much about the future of scholarly communications and am very interested in all the excellent thought that colleagues beyond anthropology and folklore studies are giving to cutting edge discussions of it. The context and venue for my remarks, as well as the five minute time limit on panelist statements, shaped how I used my time. I was trying to serve an educational role. Each panelist had a different piece of the story to reflect upon (association finances, tenure and promotion, international issues, etc.), thus there was not space or audience readiness for more complex matters, such as curatorial models of journal editing, metadata protocols, the weakness of STEM-centered philanthropic efforts in Africa, open source platforms, patron driven acquisition, non-disclosure agreements vis-a-vis big bundle deals, etc. Things are what they are.

Green Open Access Practices

Jason Baird Jackson

I want to thank the organizers of today’s event for their invitation to participate in this discussion. I have had a lot to say elsewhere [ex: my interview with Ryan Anderson on OA and anthropology] about publishing practices in our field and my remarks will be focused on a single node in the larger network of issues. I agreed to take on the slice dealing with green open access practices because this is a realm in which the matters before us are largely no longer policy setting debates but are instead questions of education and implementation. It is in this more modest context that I hope to contribute some observations that may be useful.

Despite organizationally opposing so-called green open access mandates (ex: AAA 2006; Calpestri 2006; Davis 2010), the American Anthropological Association is already a green open access [-friendly] publisher (AAA 2006). I am very proud of the association’s leadership in this regard. We were ahead of the curve when, in 2005, the association adopted an author agreement that allowed association authors to circulate post-prints in conformity with standard green OA practices and in compliance with the mandates that govern the work of some of our colleagues (AAA 2006). In adopting a green author agreement, the AAA joined the approximately 63% of scholarly journals that similarly allow authors to circulate their work down the green open access path (RoMEO 2011). But what does this mean? How does one do it? Read more

A Day of Pre- Pre-conference Activities at #AFS11

Today, out of town folklorists started appearing around Bloomington for a series of events designed to rally the local troops and welcome the earliest of the visitors coming to Bloomington for the American Folklore Society meetings. I spent the early afternoon in a fruitful Open Folklore planning meeting, but my colleagues welcomed Dr. Fekade Azeze, Associate Associate Professor of Ethiopian Literature and Folklore, and Coordinator of the Folklore Graduate Programme, at Addis Adeba University in Ethiopia. USC Folklorist Tok Thompson moderated a discussion with Dr. Azeze at midday and then he delivered a lecture on customary dispute resolution in the afternoon. I made it to the talk and it was very stimulating material. Dr. Azeze described the customary legal system of two of the largest Ethiopian peoples and situated these practices in the contemporary context, describing efforts to study such systems as a means of indigenizing the national legal system, which is largely founded on non-Eithiopian principles and practices.

Immediately after the lecture, there was an opening reception for the Faces of Fieldwork exhibition curated by Pravina Shukla, Michael Lee, and Carrie Hertz and on exhibition at the Mathers Museum. The portrait photographs submitted by the contributing ethnographers were stunning, the exhibition was well mounted by the Mathers staff, and the reception was a nice opportunity to experience the exhibition and welcome guests to town for the meetings.

I had to get home for family responsibilities, by a departmental reception for early-arriving alumni (Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology) was held. I am sure that a good time was had by all.

Tomorrow things begin in earnest, with pre-conference tours both on-campus (IU research collections and archives) and off (Southern Indiana regional sights focusing on the limestone industry). The meeting will open formally tomorrow night, with the highlight being Henry Glassie’s plenary lecture and a big welcoming reception. I will spend the day in an AFS board meeting.

Safe travels and welcome!

#HathiTrust Partnering with Rights-holders

This note represents my own personal views and is not an official organizational statement of any kind.

It is a terrible shame that so many scholars, as well as members of the broader public, are only learning about the important public-interest work of the HathiTrust Digital Library as a consequence of the unfortunate and counter-productive (in my view) lawsuit brought against the organization and its university partners by The Authors Guild and a group of associates. More articulate voices than mine have been speaking of this issue and there are now many discussions available online. A summary story by Steve Kolowich is freely available via Inside Higher Education. Reflecting my perspective is the remarkable piece, “An Open Letter to J.R. Salamanca” by Kevin Smith, the Scholarly Communications Officer at Duke University.

What I want to flag here in the smaller corner of the larger landscape in which I work is the very important work that HathiTrust is doing in cooperation with rights-holders to in-copyright works. My case is from the Open Folklore project on which I work. On both our end (the Open Folklore project team) and on the HathiTrust end, we are still working out strategies, processes, and techniques, but already we have succeeded in partnering together with rights-holders to make very important journal titles for the field of folklore studies freely available to interested users. This is done with the full involvement and consent of the copyright holders and the outcome is a real gain for the world of scholarship and for the many communities who look with interest to the documentary record of human culture and creativity that folklorists have compiled.

HathiTrust is a human-built institution and like other human-built institutions, including most especially The Author’s Guild and U.S. copyright law, it has flaws. When considering the loud noises being made by those seeking to call these flaws to the world’s attention, keep in mind the purposes that HathiTrust was established to address: “The mission of HathiTrust is to contribute to the common good by collecting, organizing, preserving, communicating, and sharing the record of human knowledge.” What purposes do those who are working to shame and discredit HathiTrust serve?

Want to see full text of journals that the Open Folklore project and HathiTrust have made available through generous partnership with the relevant rights-holders?

As is shown on the Open Folklore portal site, we have a very significant number of other in-copyright journal titles ready to be made openly accessible in this way. The rights-holders have already said yes. Its just a matter of moving these works through the relevant permissions and technical systems with HathiTrust. It is deeply discouraging that so many resources–time and attention most of all–are having to be redeployed to deal with The Author’s Guild’s suit (when, The Author’s Guild could instead be a partner and join collaboratively in this work). These resources could be better used for advancing shared goals, such as the desire by rights-holders to make scholarly journals (and books) freely available via HathiTrust.

Given The Author’s Guild’s apparent love of official snarky comments published online, I’ll just close by saying that you could not pay me (as an author of books) to join the The Author’s Guild after watching the organization at work over the past week or so.

Authors Guild Sues HathiTrust and 5 Universities Over Digitized Books

Boo. Authors Guild and others are suing HathiTrust, U Michigan, Indiana U, etc.
http://chronicle.com/blogs/ticker/authors-guild-sues-hathitrust-5-universities-over-digitized-books/36178

The Washington Declaration on Intellectual Property and the Public Interest

It has been several years now since I last taught my seminar on intellectual and cultural property issues in folklore and ethnology and I have not succeeded in keeping up with recent developments. In this context, I am especially glad that so many of my favorite colleagues have taken up work in this area. Thanks go to one of them, Alex Dent (Associate Professor of Anthropology at George Washington University and Associate Editor of Anthropological Quarterly [a awesome not-for-profit journal in its 84th year]) for calling to my attention the The Washington Declaration on Intellectual Property and the Public Interest. I have signed the statement as an expression of my basic values in this realm and I support the project. Even if you feel differently, reading the declaration is a valuable learning experience. I urge folks with concerns about where we are and where we are going to take a look. Here is an excerpt.

The next decade is likely to be determinative. A quarter century of adverse changes in the international intellectual property system are on the cusp of becoming effectively irreversible, at least in the lives of present generations. Intellectual property can promote innovation, creativity and cultural development. But an old proverb teaches that “it is possible to have too much of a good thing,” and that adage certainly applies here. The burden falls on public interest advocates to make a coordinated, evidence-based case for a critical reexamination of intellectual property maximalism at every level of government, and in every appropriate institutional setting, as well as to pursue alternatives that may blunt the force of intellectual property expansionism.

Find the whole document in its organization, institutional, and policy context online at http://infojustice.org/washington-declaration. Thanks Alex!

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