Peter Suber at Harvard University on the Future of Open Access

Peter Suber is addressing a standing-room-only house today at Harvard, in a session jointly hosted by the Berkman Center, the Office for Scholarly Communications, and the Harvard Law School Library. He insisted on a question-mark at the end of the talk’s title, so his topic is “The Future of Open Access?”, not “The Future of Open Access.”

The premise of Peter’s talk is his assessment of a series of cross-over points which move us from a proprietary world for scholarly information to an open world. There are different cross-over points for information found in books, journals, funder policies, peer-reviewed manuscripts, author understanding of the issues involved in open access, and university policies.

Peter mentioned, in passing, that the OA movement has no equivalent to the Free Software Foundation in the context of free/libre/open source software. This comment gives rise to a series of interesting side-issues. Who are the members of the OA movement? How are they (we?) organized? What is the trajectory of the movement? Is there anything that the OA movement’s leadership or followership could learn from other similar movements as to effective modes of advocacy?

It’s also interesting to think about the many disciplines involved in moving the world toward open access. Many specific fields are implicated: computer science, economics, law, and library sciences, among many others. FWIW, the crowd here at Harvard Hall is dominated by librarians, so far as I can tell, which I think is great.

Stay tuned for the archived version of the talk, to be posted soon at the Berkman Center’s site.

HLS Goes Open Access, Unanimously

I’m just delighted that the Harvard Law School faculty has voted unanimously to adopt an open access policy. This policy is consistent with the policy adopted by the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences earlier this year.

Here is what we approved:

“The Faculty of the Harvard Law School is committed to disseminating the fruits of its research and scholarship as widely as possible. In keeping with that commitment, the Faculty adopts the following policy: Each Faculty member grants to the President and Fellows of Harvard College permission to make available his or her scholarly articles and to exercise the copyright in those articles. More specifically, each Faculty member grants to the President and Fellows a nonexclusive, irrevocable, worldwide license to exercise any and all rights under copyright relating to each of his or her scholarly articles, in any medium, and to authorize others to do the same, provided that the articles are not sold for a profit. The policy will apply to all scholarly articles authored or co-authored while the person is a member of the Faculty except for any articles completed before the adoption of this policy and any articles for which the Faculty member entered into an incompatible licensing or assignment agreement before the adoption of this policy. The Dean or the Dean’s designate will waive application of the policy to a particular article upon written request by a Faculty member explaining the need.

Each Faculty member will provide an electronic copy of the final version of the article at no charge to the appropriate representative of the Provost’s Office in an appropriate format (such as PDF) specified by the Provost’s Office no later than the date of its publication. The Provost’s Office may make the article available to the public in an open-access repository.

The Office of the Dean will be responsible for interpreting this policy, resolving disputes concerning its interpretation and application, and recommending changes to the Faculty from time to time. The policy will be reviewed after three years and a report presented to the Faculty.”

There have been many champions of this and related issues throughout the academic world, including Peter Suber and Michael Carroll. At Harvard, the university librarian, Robert Darnton, and Berkman Center faculty director Stuart Shieber, of the new school of engineering and applied sciences at Harvard, are chief among them.

Prof. Robert Darnton said of this vote: “That such a renowned law school should support Open Access so resoundingly is a victory for the democratization of knowledge. Far from turning its back to the outside world, the HLS is sharing its intellectual wealth.”  Amen.