This week is International Open Access Week.
In A Very Brief Introduction to Open Access written for this week Peter Suber identifies open access literature as “digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions“.
The definitions of open access provided by the founding meetings for open access to scholarly research were deep and broad. For example, the Budapest Open Access Initiative declared that open access to literature meant:
free availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself. The only constraint on reproduction and distribution, and the only role for copyright in this domain, should be to give authors control over the integrity of their work and the right to be properly acknowledged and cited.
Availability of the public internet looks to many like open access. Works on the internet are not necessarily free of copyright or open. The internet is a distribution method but it does not make scholarly works ‘open’.
Open-ness is assessed by the extent to which content can be accessed free of charge and then re-used. Reuse is maximised when a work is freed from most copyright restrictions through open licensing.
Creative Commons offers the legal framework that enables a scholarly work to be free to share while protecting the moral rights of authors. The Creative Commons Attribution licence which is the most permissive of the CC licences enables all the uses identified by the BOAI.
The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) gives a Seal of Approval to journals which achieve a high level of open-ness based on a number of conditions. More restrictive CC licences meet the licensing condition so long as the licence granted to users enables them to “read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles”. The licences which meet this condition are CC BY, CC BY-SA, CC BY-NC and CC BY-NC-SA. The only CC licences not acceptable to the DOAJ are those which include the No Derivatives condition which means that a user cannot adapt or change a work in any way.
What do these licences mean to authors in terms of exercising their rights over their works, and, to users in terms of re-use? Compared with traditional closed access publishing authors retain and users are given more rights in open access publishing.
In celebration of OA Week we have “launched” a new page on the Creative Commons Australia website called Know your rights. It shows the extent of rights that can be exercised for each of the Creative Commons licences.