What is the relationship between legal form, governance, and ethics? | Martin Paul Eve | Professor of Literature, Technology and Publishing

“In the world of OA publishing, there have been further (not-so)shock waves reverberating this week as Knowledge Unlatched was sold to Wiley. One of the questions this raises is: how was it possible for this sale to go through and what could have been done to prevent it?

One of the first points to raise, and one that I have already made on Twitter, is that Knowledge Unlatched had to take a corporate form that protected its founder’s investment. Now, whether it’s what I would have done is a different matter, but it nonetheless takes a lot of guts to stake a huge amount (or, even, all) of your personal pension on an idea, which is what Frances Pinter did. But if you need the money back, you have to be able to sell the asset. So the fact that KU didn’t attract the not-for-profit investment affected the choice of corporate form.

What does being a charity or community interest company actually mean, though? It means, first, that your organization has an eleemosynary purpose. That is, it must be operated for the public benefit. Education, for instance, is a charitable object. It doesn’t even, in UK law, though, have to be education for everyone (the general public). Private schools can be (and often are) charities, despite only providing education to the subset of the “general public” who pay them. Hence, academic publishing can be a charitable purpose, even if it’s not openly accessible.

Second, it means that your organization is subject to certain types of financial control, but also benefit. In the UK, charities that raise money in fulfillment of their charitable purposes are not subject to corporation tax (though they are subject to VAT, under specific circumstances, and also to other taxes). They can also be converted only to organizations that share commensurate charitable objects. OLH, for instance, can merge with Birkbeck, University of London, because they share the charitable purposes of education for the public benefit.

Third, it also means that you will probably struggle for money. Charities are not allowed just to rake in tonnes and tonnes of surplus without question. They have to operate somewhat prudently. They also don’t have the mega-bucks of the big for-profit players, which means that they can usually be out-competed by these entities, which could, to be frank, starve the not-for-profits out, Uber-style, if they wanted.”

Wiley Acquires Open Access Innovator Knowledge Unlatched

“Global research and education leader Wiley today announced the acquisition of Knowledge Unlatched, an innovator in online open access solutions.

The open access movement promises to make more research broadly available to democratize information and to accelerate academic discovery. As the market for open access publishing grows, libraries and publishers are increasingly challenged to manage new workflows. Knowledge Unlatched helps libraries and publishers reduce complexity through seamless online services to approve, pay, and manage their open access transactions and maximize the impact of library budgets to make more content open access….”

Wiley Acquires Open Access Innovator Knowledge Unlatched | Open Research Community

Sven Fund, Managing Director, Knowledge Unlatched

Dear global KU-Community,

After much careful consideration, I have decided to accept an offer from Wiley to sell Knowledge Unlatched. As KU operates at a very special intersection in the publishing environment, it is important to me personally that you should understand the motivation behind this second change in ownership in the company’s history.

[…]

Stop, Look, Listen — New Wilderness in Orderly Markets: Academic Publishing in Times of APCs and Transformative Deals

“Academic publishing is an orderly market — the big players dominate the most profitable markets, while there is still enough room for medium-sized and small providers to make a living.  Many publishers have survived the first two decades of digitization so well, although the need for investment has grown significantly, and the economic reserves have shrunk for many.  The development of business models for the new digital reality, on the other hand, has remained manageable.  In this situation, libraries and publishers are challenged to integrate Open Access (OA) into their work processes — an organizational challenge from various perspectives that is difficult to solve by just a few players.”

KU and S2O – North American Webinar

“Please join Knowledge Unlatched’s US Sales team for a webinar discussing the Subscribe-to-Open (S2O) approach to converting scholarly journals to open access. The session, to last about 45 minutes with Q&A, will discuss S2O as an open access model in general, with added details about the four HSS and STEM Subscribe-to-Open KU offerings that are now active. Particular emphasis will be provided about this year’s new S2O offering for a package of six important journals in applied mathematics from EDP Sciences.”

EDP Sciences and Knowledge Unlatched announce a Subscribe-to-Open collaboration

“An Open Access initiative to sustain the barrier-free availability of EDP Sciences’ complete mathematics portfolio

Paris / Berlin, June 10, 2021. In May 2021, EDP Sciences announced that its complete mathematics journal portfolio of six subscription titles—including the flagship journal “ESAIM: Mathematical Modelling and Numerical analysis”— transitioned to Open Access (OA) under the innovative Subscribe-to-Open (S2O) model. In partnership with Knowledge Unlatched (KU), EDP Sciences will be asking libraries and institutions currently subscribing to any of the six journals to renew for 2021 and beyond on a S2O basis, thus contributing to maintaining these journals Open Access in years to come….”

„Wir müssen in Fachdisziplinen denken, um mehr Titel und Programme im Open Access zu ermöglichen“ | Open Research Community

From Google’s English:  “The financing model “wbv Open Library,” which the publisher and Knowledge Unlatched have jointly launched, is oriented towards the disciplines of adult education and professional and business education. This interview is about the framework that had to be defined, about pricing, planning processes – but also about the fun it is to try something new. Your goal: to provide the funding institutions and libraries with discipline-oriented access to Open Access publications….”

Introduction to the Open Research Library for International Librarians. | Open Research Community

“2  AMICAL Libraries are part of the KU  Selection Committee • The KU SelectCommittee consists of librarians from all over  the world  who make the selection of books  to be included in  our KU  Select Books  model,  ensuring the most relevant content for  users worldwide is included. • Librarians  in  the  fields  of  Humanities  and  Social  Sciences,  selecting  the  most  relevant content  for  KU  Select  2022  HSS  Books: titles for  KU  Select are  not chosen by us or publishers but by the library community,  through the KU  Selection Committee • Thisyear’s voting process closed on 9  April,  we will announce the result and  the new collections at the beginning of May • It  is free to participate!   …”

Conversation with Philip Hess, Knowledge Unlatched; and Marcel  Wrzesinski, Open Access Officer, Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society

“In today’s episode we feature an interview of Philip Hess, Head of Publisher Relations, Knowledge Unlatched; and Marcel Wrzesinski, Open Access Officer, Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society.  The interview was conducted by Matthew Ismail, Director of Collection Development, University of Central Michigan. 

We’ll hear from Philip and Marcel about a German OA project that focuses on supporting small, non-APC, scholar-led journals. It’s a Knowledge Unlatched and Humboldt University project.

Philipp Hess is currently the Head of Publisher Relations at Knowledge Unlatched and is pursuing a complimentary master’s degree at the University of St. Gallen and the University of Arts Berlin in Leadership in digital Innovation. Before that he studied Engineering and Industrial Design in the Netherlands and Japan, before getting into scholarly content while working in the Management Department for Kiron, a platform that offers higher education to refugees. His goal is to make knowledge accessible to everyone, everywhere and to help shape the future dissemination of scholarly content.

Marcel Wrzesinski is an Open Access Officer at the Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society and works in the research project “Sustainable journal financing through consortial support structures in small and interdisciplinary subjects” (in cooperation with Knowledge Unlatched). Prior to this, he led Open Access activities at the International Graduate Centre for the Study of Culture (Giessen) and developed transformation strategies for gender studies at Freie Universität (Berlin). He is an editor of two open access journals, headed various working groups on digital publishing, and advises research institutions on Open Access and Open Science. His interests lie in fostering and sustaining Open Access in smaller and interdisciplinary fields….”

Introduction to the Open Research Library for International Librarians. | Open Research Community

“What is Knowledge  Unlatched • How our main collection  is  created:  KU  Select  HSS  Books  Collection • Open Research Library:  central  hosting platform for  Open  Access  content • ORL -mainuser-level functionalities • ORL–how to index content in your Library  System • Time for questions…”

Why KU’s B Corp certification is a big deal

“If you have received an email lately from anyone at KU, you may have noticed the addition in our signatures of a “Certified B Corporation” logo. While this signifies something important, it may be unfamiliar to you.

Since 2006, B Corp has operated as an independent agency evaluating and identifying corporations that meet a high level of social responsibility and impact in balance with their for-profit status.

After a grueling evaluation process that took 18 months, KU has been granted this certification. This means that we have proven to the B Corp evaluation committee that we are focused on using company resources to make a difference in the world.

For those of us who are committed to the work KU does to increase the impact of open access, this recognition is a big deal. Our small yet global team is made up primarily of librarians and publishing professionals, all of whom are devoted to helping the world have access to important scholarly works. Our hope has always been that our work helps make the world a better place. The B Corp certification validates that hope….”