Frankfurt Book Fair has grown into an event that encompasses so much about the publishing industry, with special events focused on self-publishing and six different exhibit halls dedicated to various aspects of digital publishing. But what once was known to be simply a rights fair still serves as a hub of copyright issue, as evidenced by the Copyright Clearance Center’s panel, “Open Access: The Force Remaking Publishing.” Good e-Reader covered the event live, then sat down with CCC’s Christopher Kenneally, Director of Business Development, to talk about why open access—specifically in research and scholarly publishing—is such a vital force in publishing.
“The idea that a government would have a relationship with publishing is one that’s pretty well accepted around the world, except in the United States,” Kenneally explained of the panel. “Even in the UK, it has a relationship. People marvel at the extensiveness of this whole conference, but you can’t tell me that German taxpayer euros aren’t heavily invested in this. They have decided that it’s a better policy to support [publishers] and what they do.”
Interestingly, the government does have a hand in the publishing industry in the US in terms of copyright legislation. While the rights of content creators are protected under established law, that seems to be the extent of the government’s involvement with publishers. According to the panelists, however, the UK has adopted an open access policy towards the publishing of research that is government funded, meaning that research is available worldwide, but as one of the first country’s to take such a broad policy towards scholarly publishing, they are not benefiting in kind from access to research conducted outside the country.
“There’s almost no significant research team today that doesn’t have some sort of global character to it. It might be based in the UK, but the researchers are in the Netherlands, in the US, in Japan, in China, wherever they are. It has an impact on US publishers. Half of the IEEE membership is outside the US, so when someone sneezes in the UK about open access, they catch the cold back at IEEE. There’s this public policy goal, which is shared by the US and the EU, to make information more accessible.”
The Office of Scientific and Technology earlier this year outlined a policy around government research, effectively stating that any organization of a certain size who receives government funding to conduct research will have to make that research information publicly accessible. In the EU, they’re also working on a variety of open access strategies.
“The problem is, the definition that might be agreed upon in the UK by what they mean by open access might not be the same in the US. Some open access materials are free and unconditional, some of them have certain kinds of conditions, almost all of them have attached to them the Creative Commons buy license or buy-nc, which is non-commercial. But within Creative Commons there’s no real commercial reuse policy. In the past, researchers gave their copyright to publishers and publishers took responsibility for protecting the work.
“What happens in the UK matters to US publishers, and to a US audience. If it’s about a particular gene or particular disease, that matters to the whole world. We will benefit from making it available.”