How many scholars are copyright pirates of their own work?

1 minute read

Ryan Anderson has been interviewing anthropologist Jason Baird Jackson about open access publication (“Anthropology & Open Access: An Interview with Jason Baird Jackson (Part 2 of 3)”. I like his description of the coordinated action problem of moving to open access models of publication.

Most of us do not understand journal business models or how it is that librarians have made so much (expensive) information so easily available to those of us with the luxury of university affiliations. In the face of much confusion and anxiety, just sending our manuscripts to the editors and journals that we know in the way that we have always done has seemed sensible and prudent. Related is the situation in which we perceive that we understand the changing landscape better than we do. A clear instance is when we post the final published versions of our writings online because we wrongly believe ourselves to have the right to do so. The increasing prevalence of such accidental piracy fosters the misunderstanding that such practices are the right way to do open access. Such piracy is counter-productive on many levels and is unnecessary given that there are legal and technically better ways to pursue OA.

I don’t make reprints available on my website when I don’t have the copyright permission to do so.

The interview has been wide-ranging so far and this installment discusses the problem of scholarly societies in the open access era. In the old days, societies supported their journals with high member dues, and often required a paper journal subscription with membership. Many societies still do so. Today, there’s no reason to ship paper journals to the vast majority of society members. Societies claim that the cost of preparing content for publication is still high, but high-cost pre-publication processing of submissions is transparently unnecessary, considering the number of open access journals run by small societies at relatively low cost, using open access tools.