The Copyright Conundrum and the Need for Open Access

Open Access logo 2013

I. Intro: Until the Elephant Vanishes

“Yeah, yeah, yeah / There’s a hole in my life.” – The Police

To mark the 6th Annual Open Access Week (cf. OA FAQs) I would like to discuss the very large elephant in the room:  copyright. It’s everywhere and impacts almost everything we do.  Everyone, from authors to users to publishers, has got a stake in copyright, too, yet few people will agree on whether it, in its current incarnation (70 years + life of an author), is entirely positive or negative.

Copyright has long been touted as the sine-qua-non incentive for authors, artists, musicians and scholars to create new and lasting cultural materials.  Without its protections, the reasoning goes, authors will not be inspired to create new things and culture will diminish as a result. This de facto monopolization of creative works — potentially lasting for more than a century — is further justified by publishers as necessary for their artists to make a living, even as the very same businesses tout the tenets of free markets, competition and Draconian cost-cutting measures.

Such is the copyright conundrum until the law changes.

II. The Hoarding of Dragons: Denying our Own Culture to Ourselves

So what happens when copyright protection becomes too long or too restrictive? What happens when the public domain (i.e. works that all can use freely) is purposefully shrunk? What happens when publishers and corporations – by far the largest owners of copyright – sit on works like dragons hoarding treasure?  

What happens when we cannot access our own culture?

The clearest answer can be seen in the following graph, taken from a study conducted by Paul Heald at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.  This chart shows how publishers and copyright owners are not, contrary to their reasoning, fostering culture and creativity, but are instead stifling it:

New Editions from Amazon by Decade

New editions of previously printed books are but a small aspect of creative culture, this is true. However, the implication of this study is that publishers are less likely to be publishing new versions of out-of-print books between the 1920s and 1990s (a period of 70-80 years) unless it is financially viable. There are currently more new books available of works originally published in the 1910s than there are in the 2000s, and just as many books in the decade of the 1910s as there are from the 20s through the 80s. As some have suggested, the 20th Century has fallen into a black hole.

While it is understood that publishers are businesses and must act in ways that ensure a healthy bottom-line, it has also been a tendency of publishers to stifle the publication of works that might actually be valuable to smaller, though less-profitable, audiences.  Furthermore, if after 10 years 50% of copyrighted works have no market value (after 43 years it’s 90%; 65 years it’s 99%), leaving their rights in the hands of publishers to reprint them based on market forces is a sure recipe for letting them sit untouched.

The growing hole in our accessible culture, as evidenced above, subsequently puts more pressure on the institutions that exist to help preserve such materials for the sake of creating new knowledge: i.e. the non-profit universities, libraries, archives, historical societies, et al. If publishers are unwilling to reprint older editions of works due to the risk of copyright infringement, memory institutions like ours are forced to spend more time, effort and money on ensuring that they remain accessible to all.

III. The digitization, democratization (& monetization) of culture

The next logical step to ensure access and preservation has been to digitize these works and, when permitted, place them online. The added value of the digitization process allows more people to access more information than ever before. It has the potential to level the playing field for those with disabilities or poor access to institutions of learning. People have touted this as the great democratization of information and culture. In some ways this is correct, provided that it’s available where you live and you have at least some money to afford an internet connection.

The dream of this universally accessible library with everything stored within it for all is an ancient one, spanning back to the famed library of Alexandria. Some contemporary projects such as the Internet Archive, Wikipedia, Google Books, the HathiTrust, Public Library of Science, Library of Congress are attempting to realize these ambitions.  But the dream is not attainable.

Publishers have dominated this digital content with the creation of online journal databases since the 1980s and 1990s.  The monetization of past content in these online journals — much of it scholarly in nature & most of it transferred in terms of copyright to the publishers — has served to close off complete accessibility to all but the richest of organizations.  Libraries usually provide this content to their users at no cost and so the actual expense of these resources usually remains invisible to their users. But as recently as 2012, Harvard university, one of the richest universities in the world with an endowment of approximately $30 billion, has expressed concern that current price gouging of database aggregators is “fiscally unsustainable”.

If Harvard’s hurting, we’re all hurting.

IV. The United Colors of Open Access & “No Whammies, please!”

One of the proposed solutions to this growing amount of inaccessible content is the open access movement.   Open access comes in many colors, including Gold (Journals that fund publishing via Article Processing Charges [APCs] to authors), Green (usually institutional repositories holding pre-prints or post-prints of research), and the lesser-known Platinum (benefactor or organization pays APCs).

Open access allows users to access content in perpetuity without having to worry about whether the works can or can’t be used.  Copyright restrictions still will generally apply (i.e. you can’t wholesale copy and paste the work and then try to resell it), but for the sake of academic disciplines, scholars allow their work to be read and re-used. This increases the likelihood of their being cited, and further increases their impact factor.

As seen in the graph below, from a 2004 (Brody & Harnad) and 2005 (Hajjem et al.) study, open access was found to increase the amount of citations of one’s work:

Open Access increases citations chart

Other studies confirm these results as well.

Overall, open access has the ability to improve scholarly communication, but from an economic point of view access is not profitable for publishing companies. Publishers, acting as the middle-men in this case, want to restrict access as a way to increase revenues. Generally, this is a reasonable economic approach. In the face of demand, restricting supplies can help to increase prices and profitability.

However, in the case of publicly funded research it becomes absurd. Publicly-funded institutions are essentially providing the space and resources for research only to be forced to buy such research back when the results are published. A “double whammy”, so to speak.

Some may say that these institutions can afford it or that the publishers provide the types of services (i.e. editing, formatting and peer-review procedures) other cannot, but this misses the point. What we have is essentially a publishing industry subsidized by the public.  As for providing peer-reviewing procedures (one of the publishing industry’s main justifications for their practices), it should be remembered that publishers also do not pay peer-reviewers.

OA is seen as the best antidote to these unfair practices.

V. CSUN’s place in the Open Access Movement – Internationally, Regionally and Locally

CSUN is part of the growing OA movement in several ways. First, internationally, due to President Harrison, CSUN is now a signatory of the Berlin Declaration on Open Access, an international agreement now entering its 10th year implemented by the Max Planck Society.

CSUN Oviatt Library Dean Mark Stover is also helping with supporting the California State California Taxpayer Access to Publicly Funded Research Act (AB 609) a bill designed to mandate the public access of state-funded research.

Tell Senators to Vote image

AB 609 would allow Californians access to the scholarship that has been locked away in databases behind expensive pay walls.  No longer would we be denied access to our own culture that was funded by us in the first place.

Finally, CSUN’s Faculty Senate will be voting on a campus-wide resolution calling for CSUN faculty to publish their work in open access venues, or archiving such work in CSUN ScholarWorks. As for ScholarWorks, it has doubled in size in ten months. It will double in size again by June 2014 to 6000, making it one of the more sizable repositories within the United States. When we reach 10,000 items we will likely be one of the top 50 or 60 institutional repositories in the US, as tracked by the Registry of Open Access Repositories (ROAR). For now ScholarWorks will continue to grow and help the cause of open access for the foreseeable future.

VI. Conclusion: Atlas shrugs or shrugging Atlas?

It remains to be seen if works from the 20th century will become more accessible again in our lifetime.  As long as libraries exist and do not discard books that are out of print, our works can be recovered and preserved. Google Books and the HathiTrust Massive Digital Libraries (MDLs) are still digitizing copyrighted works, including contested orphan works. Perhaps these initiatives will help to alleviate some of the problems associated with the hole in our culture, provided that the publishers are cooperative. However, the tendency of the Author’s Guild to litigate in the cases against both Google and the HathiTrust suggests otherwise.

Yet, new content is necessarily based on old findings. Innovation does not arrive without a reliance on past models. As Newton famously stated, “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” Unfortunately, given the current copyright situation, it is the giants who are standing on our shoulders.

Open access can at least provide us with some much needed relief.

Andrew Weiss

 

Research Therapy: The Info-Cycle

In Session 12 of Research Therapy, we learned ways to identify different types of information. So how do you decide what information is best for you to use? Let’s take a quick (and grossly oversimplified) look at the Cycle of Information:

Of course, there are going to be outliers and other types of information that might work for you (diaries! letters! art! oh my!), but the two most important things to remember are: 1.) follow your professor’s assignment requirements and 2.) be critical: know the who, what, when, where, how, and why of your resource. Our session on Evaluating Websites can be applied to any resource.

Be sure to check out #researchRx on Twitter for a quick fix on research tips!

Good luck on those long research papers! If you need help, don’t forget you can Ask a Librarian.

- Anna Fidgeon

Research Therapy: Types of Information Sources

It’s the beginning of the semester and most of your instructors have probably given you your research assignments. Maybe it’s a presentation, or a paper or an annotated bibliography? It’s time to begin searching for sources to support your research, but before you begin your search you should have an understanding of the different types of information sources that will be most useful for your research topic. http://youtu.be/iPCte4BmWTQ Another valuable type of resource is government documents. They offer a lot of primary sources and secondary sources as well. Some examples include: • census data • congressional hearings and court transcripts • maps (current and historical) • patents, trademarks and copyrights • statistics regarding education, health, environment, transportation and more • consumer information and statistics Check out our online guides to government resources: general guide to Government Publications at the Oviatt Library and a list of all our Government Publication Subject Guides. Now that you know the different types of sources available to you, take another look at your research topic or question and decide which kind of source you need to support your research. To help you decide which sources would be best, think about the currency of your topic and the type of evidence you need to support your ideas. The following table is an example of different types of research and the appropriate sources.

Current events & trends
Newspapers, news websites, magazines
Case studies, ethnographic research, longitudinal studies
Scholarly journals & books
Statistics and legal documents
Government documents and websites
Topic overviews & definitions
Reference & books
In-depth analysis on a topic
Scholarly journals & books


- Laurie Borchard

Reserve a Study Room online!

We are so excited about launching a new service this fall for all our CSUN students. We’ve heard all your comments and concerns about our individual and group study rooms, and are happy to report that starting this Fall, CSUN students will be able to reserve them online, up to two weeks in advance. In fact, study rooms MUST now be reserved online.  You can reserve a room using your computer, tablet, or smart phone, but just make sure that you use your CSUN email address when reserving the room. This short video explains how it works.

 

 

If you have any questions about this new system, please go to the Guest Services Checkout Desk in the lobby or try it yourself directly at http://csun.libcal.com/.

Reserve Away!

- Susanna Eng-Ziskin

Research Therapy: Finding an Article From a Citation Using OneSearch

Do citations look like this to you:

nonsense citation with random characters and wingdings

and somehow you are expected to find that article and read it before your next class? So you just copy and paste the whole thing into the library website and come up with nothing. Then, you start to wonder why your professor lied to you and said it was available at the library? You begin to question this whole college thing and reconsider running away with the circus.

STOP THERE!

Watch this video to learn where to go to break the citation code and how to find an article from a citation using the Oviatt’s electronic databases:

 article citation in onesearch research therapy video

 Putting a whole citation into OneSearch makes it sad. All it wants is the title of the article, which in many citation styles, comes before the title of the journal. You can use the rest of the citation as a reference to make sure the article you are accessing is exactly the article you were looking for in the first place, and not a similarly titled one.

APA citation

Be sure to bookmark some of these online resources for citation help:

Cite Your Sources: detailed guides for APA and MLA style citations along with help for other styles.

Research Therapy: Citing Your Sources: an explanation on why, when & how you should cite. Includes help on citing unusual resources, such as Twitter, blogs, maps and more.

Citation Managers: Comparison of Features: this guide from UW- Madison Libraries explains your options for citation managers that will help you organize and keep track of your sources as well as help you decipher the components.

Like always, librarians are here for you. Just ask.

- Anna Fidgeon

Meet the Librarians of the Oviatt

Have you been on the 3rd floor of the library recently and noticed the inspirational Rocky Balboa poster in an office window? Well that office belongs to Laurie Borchard, one of the Digital Learning Initiatives Librarian. Learn more about her favorite books, why she became a librarian, and just how far her obsession with Rocky goes.

Laurie Borchard

Laurie Borchard, Digital Learning Initiatives Librarian

Where are you originally from?

I am from a really small town in southern Minnesota called New Richland, with a population of 1,200.

What do you admire most about CSUN students?

I encounter so many students who are really enthusiastic about their education and the determination with which they apply to their studies is truly inspiring.

What’s your favorite book or your top 5?

Favorite book of all time is The Brothers Karamasov by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Honorable mentions:     The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
My Antonia by Willa Cather
The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
Stones from the River by Ursula Hegi
Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich

What songs would you include on the soundtrack of your life?

Eye of the Tiger by Survivor

Gonna Fly Now from Rocky Soundtrack

No Easy Way Out by Robert Tepper

Hearts on Fire by John Cafferty

Why did you become a librarian?

I took a research methods class as an undergraduate that was taught by a librarian. She made research interesting, fun, and the more I learned about librarianship the more appealing it sounded. I really enjoy working with students and I find myself constantly learning from them. I also love that my job is so multi-faceted, I get to work with students and faculty, as well as develop projects and initiatives on my own.

What do you wish every student knew about the library or librarians?

I hope that students know that a library is not just about books and that librarians do not spend their day putting books on the shelf and shushing students. The library is a place for students to come to get the information and help they need to do their research, as well as a place to study and collaborate with fellow students. The Oviatt Library is currently undergoing renovations to turn the first floor into a Learning Commons. The changes are really exciting, we are getting new furniture, study rooms with monitors students can hook their devices up to, a brand new Freudian Sip in the lobby, and finally more power outlets!! For more info, check out our blog The Transforming Library.

What’s your favorite quote?

“It is not the brains that matter most, but that which guides them…the character, the heart, generous qualities, progressive ideas.”
―Fyodor Dostoyevsky

 If you could meet anyone living or dead who would it be?

Björk

 If you could learn any skill what would it be?

I wish I could speak another language fluently, preferably Spanish or German, or maybe someday both!

What are some of your current projects that you are working on?

Along with my colleague Anna Fidgeon, we have developed the video series Research Therapy; we cover topics relating to finding articles and books, evaluating resources, topic exploration and more. Check out our YouTube playlist here, along with the videos we also create a blog post that expands on the information provided in the video, check out our posts on the Cited at the Oviatt blog.

- Laurie Borchard

Oviatt Celebrates American Independence


Creative Commons license 2013 by flickr user Jim St. Croix

In honor of Independence Day, check out Oviatt’s resources on America’s founding.

Book Cover of "Desperate Sons"Desperate Sons: Samuel Adams, Patrick Henry, John Hancock, and the Secret Band of Radicals who Led the Colonies to War by Les Staniford is a “a rich, exhilarating account of the circumstances behind the forming of the Sons of Liberty and how their actions in Boston, New York, Philadelphia and elsewhere brought an anti-establishment coalition to the fore of the conflict,” according to Kirkus Reviews. Oviatt Floor 2, Stack 15, call number E206 .S77 2012

Book cover of "The Glorious Cause"For a more scholarly – but still accessible – take, try The Glorious Cause: The American Revolution, 1763-1789 by Robert Middlekauff. A review in the American Historical Review calls it a “crisp and engaging recounting” of the causes and waging of the war of independence. Oviatt Floor 2, Stack 15, call number E208 .M54 2007 

Oviatt Library will be closed on July Fourth, but lots of resources are available online 24/7. The Library of Congress has a digital exhibit on Creating the Declaration of Independence, as well as many other resources on the American Revolution.

You can browse digital images of newspapers from all over America, seeing the Revolution as our forbearers did, through America’s Historical Newspapers.

Let history come alive with documentaries from Films on Demand, a streaming video service for CSUN students, faculty, and staff. Below, watch “Revolution” from the series America: The Story of Us.

Let history come alive with documentaries from Films on Demand, a streaming video service for CSUN students, faculty, and staff: watch “Revolution” from the series America: The Story of Us streaming to you online.

Laura Wimberley

Beach Reads

Book on Beach

Beach Reads http://www.flickr.com/photos/frostis/8081062616/

Looking for something fun to read this summer?  Browse the Bestsellers Collection and the Reading Room on the second floor!  Here are some top picks to keep you blissfully transported on vacation.

DivergentIf you liked The Hunger Games, you will love Divergent by Veronica Roth. Tough-as-nails heroine Tris learns who she is and what she’s made of in a dystopian future Chicago.  The fast-paced cinematic action continues in the sequel, Insurgent – but you’ll have to wait until October for Allegiant, the final book in the trilogy. In the Bestsellers collection on Oviatt’s second floor, call numbers PZ7.R7375 Di 2011 and PZ7.R7375 Ins 2012

Private BerlinThe latest mystery from the always-popular James Patterson is Private Berlin, a grisly thriller.  In the Bestsellers collection on Oviatt’s second floor, call number PS3566.A822 P763 2013

The RookIf you’re looking for both a mystery and a heroine in an alternate world, try The Rook by Daniel O’Malley.  Publishers Weekly says, “Dry wit, surprising reversals of fortune, and a clever if offbeat plot make this a winner. Dr. Who fans will find a lot to like.” In the Bestsellers collection on Oviatt’s second floor, call number PR9619.4.O52 R66 2012

Sophie KinsellaFor a summer read that’s light as chiffon, try the latest from Sophie Kinsella (author of Confessions of a Shopaholic).  I’ve Got Your Number  starts with a lost engagement ring and a cell phone mix up, telling much of the story in text messages and footnoted quips.  A fine romance, perfect for a lazy day of sunbathing.  In the Bestsellers collection on Oviatt’s second floor, call number PR6073.I246 I93 2012

 - Laura Wimberley

It’s Summertime and the Reading is– at the TCC!

Summer is here and some of the best reading can be found in the Oviatt Library’s Teacher Curriculum Center (TCC).  What’s better than buying a book?  Checking one out for free!  It doesn’t get much better than that. 

Book trio

You can re-visit classics of yore (“A Wrinkle in Time,” “The Little Prince”), or catch up on some contemporary “must reads” (“Twilight,” “The Hunger Games”).  Perhaps a childhood favorite?  We even have some graphic novels. TCC’s collection has something for everyone, including a wide variety of picture books perfect for the younger set or even for you.  Stop in and check out, “Pete the Cat,” the “Elephant & Piggie” series, or even “Officer Buckle and Gloria” – books so entertaining that you’ll want to read them again and again (and enjoy their playful artwork).  We also have a great selection of books on CD to keep you entertained on those long, cross country drives.  Imagine having the complete “Harry Potter” series read to you as you navigate the highways and byways!

Silly or serious, fact or fiction, we’ve got your number and it’s unlimited.  What could be finer than sitting poolside or seaside, sipping cool lemonade, wearing shorts, shades and flip flops while taking in the antics of “Huckleberry Finn” or “Ramona the Pest”?  And don’t forget about, “Al Capone Does my Shirts” (we thought you’d be intrigued).  If you have a current CSUN ID card, you hold the passport to a myriad of destinations.

Let reading transport you.  For fun, excitement, adventure, or just a mental scenic getaway, you don’t have to go very far, come to the TCC – it’s the start of any great vacation.

- Mara Houdyshell

Meet the Librarians of the Oviatt

Meet Andrew Weiss, a Digital Services Librarian here at the library. One of his main responsibilities is CSUN’s institutional repository ScholarWorks, which is an open access repository of works authored by CSUN faculty and students, learn more about it here

Andrew Weiss, Digital Services Librarian

Andrew Weiss, Digital Services Librarian

 Where are you originally from?

I grew up in Reading, PA, not far from Philadelphia, but I also spent 8 years living in Japan and consider it like a second home.

What do you admire about CSUN students?

I’m always amazed at their strong desire to engage the world head-on, whether in campus activities, high-quality projects, or social activism. I also see a lot of collaboration going on here in the library among students — banding together to tackle their classes and assignments. When I walk past the study rooms, I often see chalkboards full of notes and equations that I couldn’t begin to decipher.

I’m also impressed with those students who can walk and text on their cell phones without bumping into things. 

Why did you become a librarian?

It’s the perfect hybrid-education role: a combination of classroom teaching, research, historical and archival document preservation, digital technology, social media, project management and digital rights management.  It’s a challenge to become proficient in all those areas. And I like the challenge. There’s always something new to learn.

What is your favorite quote?

“I’m not crazy about reality, but it’s still the only place to get a decent meal.”  – Groucho Marx

What is your favorite book or your top 5?

Too many to count, but the shortlist would have to include: A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole, Coin Locker Babies by Ryu Murakami, & Four Quartets by T.S. Eliot…plus many more.

 What are your research interests?

I’m currently doing research on massive digital libraries such as Google Books, HathiTrust, and Internet Archive (to name a few). I’m also interested in international open access digital library collaborations – especially those related to Japan and East Asia.

 -Laurie Borchard