Inspired Rants – more on copyright

By | November 3, 2011

I have a renewed sense of vigour about injustice, irony and absurdity after being recharged from the electric energy emanating out of Utah and the OpenEd conference.

The Twitterz and The Blogs are lit up with chatter about Jim Groom’s OccupyOpenEd keynote. It has gotten people talking and that in itself makes it a success.

While Jim’s keynote was awesome, in truth, I’ve heard it already or lived it really, since I’ve been deep in the fray of ds106 fanaticism for a few months now. He was preaching to choir and I was singing Hallelujah loud and clear. Heck I even created a whole sock puppet identity to take the Summer of Oblivion.

So, to shift onto other new things that had me rethinking and re-examining and something that really reinvigorated me was Brian Lamb’s session : Towards Open Sustainability Education

cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by giulia.forsythe

I didn’t quite realize how much I had absorbed, until -fast forward- to our institution’s most recent copyright workshop, co-hosted by our teaching centre and the library. Let me set the stage: Imagine a room filled with 50 slightly irate faculty who are frustrated about what Access Copyright and changing legislation will mean for their teaching. They were mad as hell and wanted to vent that anger.

Etched into my mind through my chaotic visual notes while listening to a stream of #ds106radio a bit of Brian’s session took a new shape of its own, in my own words (slightly embellished, perhaps mutilated but nonetheless inspired).

I said:

As academics you write these articles, for free.
You peer review these articles, for free. [I got a few nods on this one]
You submit them to journals to be published.
Then your articles get locked up and sold back to us. Repeatedly.
We are paying the Access Copyright tariff and many times we already pay for licences in the library.

We are a publicly funded institution. Our government collects taxes and funds the university and granting agencies so that we can further our body of knowledge, so that we can have a competitive world class knowledge economy. What good can we do if we lock all this knowledge up behind paywalls? How are we solving the world’s problems? How are we being thought leaders?

I am glad you are angry. You should be. But you shouldn’t be angry at the library or administration.

Then I asked everyone to recognize their own agency for change. This doesn’t need to be something that happens to us. We can actively work to change things because this is bigger than us. This is bigger than just our institution.

Across Canada, universities are dealing with the exact same problems. The entire world is struggling with these issues. Last week, academics around the world participated in Open Access Week.

Turn your anger into action: I urge you to show your support for AUCC, CAUT, CLA. Write your member of parliament. And- if you have the option to contribute in an open access journal, pledge it so! There are also an expansive ever growing list of work to choose from, that has been released as open access.

At this point a faculty member pointed out that one journal wanted to charge him about two thousand euros if he wanted to release his article as open access. This was news to me, but then another faculty member piped up and indicated that the granting agencies have a field in the forms to ask for extra funding in order to publish as open access.

I even slipped in a couple snide comments about Aaron Swartz.

Okay, I kind of glanced over the sustainability part during the rant, but it’s not that hard to see that the practices of academic publishing are exploitative and do not contribute to a sustainable model of knowledge growth.

Sometimes I get scolded for speaking out of turn. I mean it wasn’t my session, I was a guest, supposed to be there for support. Well I didn’t get scolded and a few people came up to me afterwards and thanked me.

So in turn, thanks OpenEd and especially Brian Lamb for stirring up my outrage again.

4 thoughts on “Inspired Rants – more on copyright

  1. Brian

    It’s very kind of you to share a coherent and focused version of my disoriented ravings. Maybe you could help on a few other of my hobby-horses… have I ever told you how uncomfortable I find airline seating?

    The point you raise about costs borne by the author in some open access models is an important challenge to address. I was attended a meeting of a scholarly communications committee that discussed the creation of a university fund to help defray that expense. It was noted that this cost would be a small fraction of what the Library spends on periodicals. Of course, this type of action would be far more effective if taken by a number of institutions.

    A timely report on that issue is here.

    And to add a bit more on author’s rights, a typically sane post was published by Martin Weller today: A simple open vs closed tale

    And thank you again for that wonderful visualization of my talk. When I saw it, I came to believe it was not quite so disjointed and disoriented as I feared… even accounting for your gifts as a visual facilitator.

  2. Giulia Post author

    Thanks for the kind words about my doodle. I am glad you like it. I look forward to doing visual notes on any topic you deem worthy of your attention: airline seating included. I really did enjoy your talk. I do think you should present it again and this time focus more on what UBC is doing right because I would have loved to hear more about the wiki project. Also I’d love it if the ecology metaphor were extended, wrapping the whole thing as a little story. Just some suggestions, obviously you did a great job of getting me thinking about some points and it seemed to help educate a few of our faculty.
    The payment for open access slightly concerns me but thank you for the link I will investigate before I say too much on the matter.
    As for Martin’s recent post, it just occurred to me that his work has obviously inspired my rant also, as I have grand designs of making a Manga Version of the Digital Scholar but I actually hadn’t had a chance to read his most recent post on the matter, so again- thanks for the referral.
    As for why the heck your comment stayed in moderation so long, duh, I am obviously just figuring this wordpress thing out.

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