Walled Culture: How Big Content Uses Technology and the Law to Lock Down Culture and Keep Creators Poor (book)

by Glyn Moody

Ed Sheeran and Dua Lipa get sued for alleged plagiarism and the majority of creators see pennies for their work, while the revenues of the record labels are exploding. Libraries struggle to give access to ebooks and get sued by an increasingly more powerful book industry, while publicly funded research papers get locked up.

Walled Culture is the first book providing a compact, non-technical history of digital copyright and its problems over the last 30 years, and the social, economic and technological implications.

This book recounts the origins and unfolding of that historic clash of irreconcilable ideas by diving into how:

Big Content have lobbied lawmakers in the US, the EU, and elsewhere to pass harsh laws in an attempt to forbid people from accessing and sharing content;
As a result, the immense power of the Internet is being throttled, and the knowledge and culture that could flow freely to everyone is being walled up for a select few; and,
We are losing so much just to prop up outdated and inefficient business models, and what could be done to unleash the Internet’s full potential and fairly remunerate creators by breaking down those walls.

In looking into these events, Walled Culture tries to answer the following key questions:

What are the problems with copyright in the digital age?
Why does copyright harm creators and block global access to knowledge?
How does copyright threaten basic freedoms and undermine the Internet?
How can we promote creativity and help artists and make a living in the digital age?
What should we do to solve all these problems?

 

No evidence that mandatory open data policies increase error correction | Nature Ecology & Evolution

Berberi, I., Roche, D.G. No evidence that mandatory open data policies increase error correction. Nat Ecol Evol (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41559-022-01879-9

Preprint: https://doi.org/10.31222/osf.io/k8ver

Abstract: Using a database of open data policies for 199 journals in ecology and evolution, we found no detectable link between data sharing requirements and article retractions or corrections. Despite the potential for open data to facilitate error detection, poorly archived datasets, the absence of open code and the stigma associated with correcting or retracting articles probably stymie error correction. Requiring code alongside data and destigmatizing error correction among authors and journal editors could increase the effectiveness of open data policies at helping science self-correct.

 

A Study of Publicly Available Resources Addressing Legal Data-Sharing Barriers: Systematic Assessment

Abstract:  Background:

United States data protection laws vary depending on the data type and its context. Data projects involving social determinants of health often concern different data protection laws, making them difficult to navigate.

Objective:We systematically aggregated and assessed useful online resources to help navigate the data-sharing landscape.

Methods:We included publicly available resources that discussed legal data-sharing issues with some health relevance and published between 2010 and 2019. We conducted an iterative search with a common string pattern using a general-purpose search engine that targeted 24 different sectors identified by Data Across Sectors for Health. We scored each online resource for its depth of legal and data-sharing discussions and value for addressing legal barriers.

Results:Out of 3710 total search hits, 2721 unique URLs were reviewed for scope, 322 received full-text review, and 154 were selected for final coding. Legal agreements, consent, and agency guidance were the most widely covered legal topics, with HIPAA (The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), Title 42 of the Code of Federal Regulations Part 2 being the top 3 federal laws discussed. Clinical health care was the most prominent sector with a mention in 73 resources.

Conclusions:This is the first systematic study of publicly available resources on legal data-sharing issues. We found existing gaps where resources covering certain laws or applications may be needed. The volume of resources we found is an indicator that real and perceived legal issues are a substantial barrier to efforts in leveraging data from different sectors to promote health.

Journal of Medical Internet Research – A Study of Publicly Available Resources Addressing Legal Data-Sharing Barriers: Systematic Assessment

Abstract:  Background:

United States data protection laws vary depending on the data type and its context. Data projects involving social determinants of health often concern different data protection laws, making them difficult to navigate.

Objective:We systematically aggregated and assessed useful online resources to help navigate the data-sharing landscape.

Methods:We included publicly available resources that discussed legal data-sharing issues with some health relevance and published between 2010 and 2019. We conducted an iterative search with a common string pattern using a general-purpose search engine that targeted 24 different sectors identified by Data Across Sectors for Health. We scored each online resource for its depth of legal and data-sharing discussions and value for addressing legal barriers.

Results:Out of 3710 total search hits, 2721 unique URLs were reviewed for scope, 322 received full-text review, and 154 were selected for final coding. Legal agreements, consent, and agency guidance were the most widely covered legal topics, with HIPAA (The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), Title 42 of the Code of Federal Regulations Part 2 being the top 3 federal laws discussed. Clinical health care was the most prominent sector with a mention in 73 resources.

Conclusions:This is the first systematic study of publicly available resources on legal data-sharing issues. We found existing gaps where resources covering certain laws or applications may be needed. The volume of resources we found is an indicator that real and perceived legal issues are a substantial barrier to efforts in leveraging data from different sectors to promote health.

Libraries take charge

“The Open Access publishing landscape: why academic libraries are entering the Open Access publishing space….

Academic publishing is changing, and university libraries are becoming more intrinsically woven into the fabric of the new landscape. Although publishers affiliated with universities, such as Cambridge University Press and Oxford University Press, have been around for centuries, university libraries are now launching their own publishing and content hosting initiatives, usually with a sole focus on Open Access. If you’re not familiar with it, Open Access is part of a movement to facilitate the free exchange of knowledge and widen access globally. It often entails publishing academic articles, books, resources and content under public copyright licences, usually Creative Commons licenses, to enable free distribution and reuse of the work under certain conditions.

 

The past decade has seen the launch of several new university presses in the UK dedicated to publishing Open Access research, including Cardiff University Press (launched in 2014), UCL Press (2015), the University of Westminster Press (2015), White Rose Press (2016) and, most recently, the Scottish Universities Press (2022). At the same time, libraries have been carving out their own space in the publishing sphere, providing hosting solutions to their academics, staff and students. Initiatives include the University of St Andrews Journal Hosting Service, Liverpool John Moores University Open Journals Service and Edinburgh Diamond (which I manage)….”

Access to science for junior doctors and neurologists in French-speaking countries: challenges and future perspectives

Abstract:  Background and objectives: Science education developed historically from experimentation science to model theories of cognition. Digitization in medical science brought about new challenges of access to science for education and publishing. The aims of our study are to describe the differences in access to science and scientific publications for junior doctors and neurologists in French-speaking countries, and to identify difficulties and their association with demographic, workplace, social and personal factors. Methods: We performed a thirty-nine-question-survey to define access to science from two major perspectives, scientific education, and scientific publishing. We explored scientific education through demographic data and scientific resources (institutional, online, personal), and evaluated scientific publishing of thesis and articles according to demographic data, number of publications, and difficulties with publishing. Results: Our study identified personal and environmental factors interfering with scientific access, some of which are attributed to junior doctors and neurologists in French-speaking countries as age, gender, ethnicity, income and work and life-balance. A heavier load was observed for African scientists. The main scientific resources used for medical education were Journals 82,9%, Congresses 79,4%, and Sci-Hub 74,5%. Junior scientists are facing major difficulties in writing in science due to linguistic (56,5%), financial (64,7%), scientific (55,3%), and logistic (65,3%) factors. Conclusions: This paper suggests that ethnicity, age, gender, and work-life balance can all impact access to science at different levels. The challenge now is to create digital platforms that modernize medical education and help build bridges for research within diverse scientific communities

The Big APC Question Mark Hovering Over the OSTP Announcement | Jeff Pooley

by Jeff Pooley

From yesterday’s blockbuster White House announcement on immediate OA for federally funded research:

Improving public access policies across the U.S. government to promote the rapid sharing of federally funded research data with appropriate protections and accountability measures will allow for greater validity of research results and more equitable access to data resources aligned with these ideals. To promote equity and advance the work of restoring the public’s trust in Government science, and to advance American scientific leadership, now is the time to amend federal policy to deliver immediate public access to federally funded research.

The no-embargo guidance, to be implemented by federal funding agencies over the next couple of years, is a huge win, full stop. SPARC North America and the ARL are right to celebrate the news. It is, in effect, a single-memo Plan (U.)S.

Still: the unintended consequences. Without lots of vigilance and careful policy revision, the edict—to be implemented across many agencies—could end up enthroning the article processing charge (APC).

Here’s the basic problem. As a growing number of studies document, most of the world’s academic authors (including most humanities and social science authors in the U.S.) can’t afford the often-usurious fees. The APC model, with its tolled access to authorship, is the subscription model seen through a camera obscura: author paywalls in place of reading paywalls. Thus the prevailing APC regime fixes one barrier to access, for readers, by erecting another, for authors.

The big risk is that the new policy will inadvertently crown the author-excluding APC. Thanks to the aggressive, profit-protecting moves of the big five publishers as well as some friendly fire from the Europeans’ Plan S, the APC is already in the pole position. Rich North American universities and well-heeled European nations have been signing so-called “read-and-publish” deals with the publishers for years now—deals that cover APCs for their faculty alone. In the last two years the pace of deal-making has picking up, under the “transformative agreement” euphemism—starving library budgets that could otherwise fund fee-free OA publishing. And since author fees are stitched into the deals, the approach serves to ratify—and secure in place—a scholarly publishing system underwritten by the APC.

[…]

 

A survey of researchers’ code sharing and code reuse practices, and assessment of interactive notebook prototypes [PeerJ]

Abstract:  This research aimed to understand the needs and habits of researchers in relation to code sharing and reuse; gather feedback on prototype code notebooks created by NeuroLibre; and help determine strategies that publishers could use to increase code sharing. We surveyed 188 researchers in computational biology. Respondents were asked about how often and why they look at code, which methods of accessing code they find useful and why, what aspects of code sharing are important to them, and how satisfied they are with their ability to complete these tasks. Respondents were asked to look at a prototype code notebook and give feedback on its features. Respondents were also asked how much time they spent preparing code and if they would be willing to increase this to use a code sharing tool, such as a notebook. As a reader of research articles the most common reason (70%) for looking at code was to gain a better understanding of the article. The most commonly encountered method for code sharing–linking articles to a code repository–was also the most useful method of accessing code from the reader’s perspective. As authors, the respondents were largely satisfied with their ability to carry out tasks related to code sharing. The most important of these tasks were ensuring that the code was running in the correct environment, and sharing code with good documentation. The average researcher, according to our results, is unwilling to incur additional costs (in time, effort or expenditure) that are currently needed to use code sharing tools alongside a publication. We infer this means we need different models for funding and producing interactive or executable research outputs if they are to reach a large number of researchers. For the purpose of increasing the amount of code shared by authors, PLOS Computational Biology is, as a result, focusing on policy rather than tools.

 

Lack of grants from funding agencies biggest barrier to OA publishing in the physical sciences, study finds – AIP Publishing LLC

 

Over half (53%) of physical science researchers want to publish open access (OA) but 62% say a lack of monies from funding agencies prevents them from doing so.

Open science is facing headwinds

“So, how could anyone disagree with the beautiful principles of open access to knowledge? Who could object to the openness of research articles, research data and research methods?

Openness means changes in the management, sharing and storage of data, and it also challenges the traditions of scientific publishing. Indeed, esteemed science publishers have been engaged in a very profitable business. …”

Transformative agreements are not the key to open access | Times Higher Education (THE)

“For years, there has been a debate about the most effective strategy to achieve universal open access to scholarly publications. This has unnecessarily pitted two approaches against each other: the “gold” approach, based on open-access journals, and the “green” approach, based on open-access repositories. While there are strengths and drawbacks to each, both are critical – for the moment, at least….

The Plan S requirement for immediate open access has further fuelled the debate. In a recent article published in Times Higher Education, Springer Nature’s chief publishing officer, Stephen Inchcoombe, argues that transformative agreements (TAs) are the fastest route towards full open access. Yet these agreements – which allow researchers to both access journals’ subscription content and to publish in them open access – are only available to institutions or countries with the substantial funds required to pay for them. In addition, they sometimes take years to negotiate and, because most institutions will not be able to afford TAs with all publishers, they lock researchers into publishing in specific venues.

Moreover, TAs do not transform journals to open access, but make individual articles available for a fee. While such “transformative journals” are supposedly on a path to becoming fully open access, the real direction of travel is questionable. As such, transformative agreements alone will only result in a slow and partial transition to open access, with content remaining siloed in various publisher platforms.

 

That underlines the case for a parallel green route. Inchcoombe claims that repository content is of lower quality and has less visibility than the publishers’ version. But the accepted manuscript (the most common version found in repositories) contains the same content as the published version. In addition, articles in repositories such as arXiv, Pubmed Central and Zenodo, as well as many institutional repositories, are both highly used and highly cited. …”

OA Isn’t Always DEI | By Every Means Necessary

by Dave Ghamandi

I think many of us are interested in OA because we feel its related to positive change, fits with our values, or somehow advances equity and justice. However, as we might know, OA doesn’t always fit into DEI or diversity, equity, and inclusion. One major example of how OA doesn’t automatically equal DEI is with APC-based OA, which includes so-called transformative agreements or read-and-publish agreements. For a deeper explanation of this claim visit my HCommons account[1][2][3] and critiques from other librarians[4][5][6].

The starting point for what I want to focus on today feels like decades ago—2020. In the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder, people and institutions were adopting the language of antiracism. Ibram Kendi was making the rounds. Organizations were acknowledging, at least on paper, that racism is systemic and that it’s not good enough to not be racist, but we should be antiracist. However, progressive rhetoric from that summer has not translated into many material changes. We have a president who suggested that cops shoot Black people “in the leg instead of the heart” and police killed Jayland Walker with 60 bullets two weeks ago in Akron Ohio. My talk is dedicated to Jayland.

[…]

Why Meta’s project to translate automatically between 200 languages will be stymied by copyright – Walled Culture

“Unfortunately, Meta’s grand vision is unlikely to be realised – because of copyright. Unless online material is released under a permissive licence such as the ones devised by Creative Commons, it will be necessary to obtain permission from the copyright holder before a full translation can be made using Facebook’s new tools. It will only take a few high-profile lawsuits from bullying publishers to frighten people away from daring to translate mainstream online articles into their own, poorly-served language without a licence.

And so, once again, copyright maximalism will throttle an exciting chance to make the world a better, fairer place by improving access to knowledge – and all to preserve the sanctity of an outdated intellectual monopoly….”

Inflationary adjustment to Frontiers’ Article Processing Charges – Science & research news | Frontiers

“At Frontiers, APCs are paid in US dollars, the value of which has recently been under strong inflationary pressure.  Against international cost-of-living indicators, the dollar has lost 13% of its value since the last time we adjusted APCs at the end of 2017.  

Unlike other publishers, we have not made annual adjustments to the costs of our services during that period.

As of August 2022, we will raise APCs by 9.32% to help partially offset the recent inflationary losses to the value of the dollar. This will allow us to continue to reinvest in our operations while offering the highest quality, sustainable publishing services. We employ an international team of over 1,700 publishing professionals, who provide the expertise and technology skills to maintain and expand our editorial program and help make more science, open science….”