Intellectual property: the case for OA

Nikos Koutras is a PhD candidate and tutor in the Macquarie Law School. His research centres on Intellectual Property Law with a particular focus on Open Access. In this post Nikos discusses why OA is an important and necessary development.

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Justifications for Open Access Publishing

In opposition to the strengthening of intellectual property regimes worldwide, open source software, the access to medicines lobby, the open access movement, the development of Creative Commons licenses and the European Orphan Works directive are strong signs of a possible turn towards a more balanced approach to intellectual property issues.

In this context, access to information can be seen as a crucial factor for knowledge economies of the future and can be fortified if, inter alia, open access repositories are given a fair chance of both survival and development. However, this requires careful consideration of the norms and forms endorsed as part of governmental policies regarding an effective governance framework for open access repositories.

Proser, a noted scholar in this field, argues that open access can provide a future for scholarly communication. He claims that ‘[w]e currently have an aggregated system for scholarly publishing whereby the journal fulfils four different and specific functions in one package: registration; certification (peer review); awareness (communications); and archiving.

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These four functions have currently been packaged together in an aggregated system … The new technologies, notably the Internet, provide an opportunity for unlocking that system and looking at new ways in which we can fulfil those functions’ (168). Therefore, open access can be used as an instrument for social justice to broaden social cohesion and to increase accessibility of information safeguarding human rights for the future of developing and developed countries. In addition, Proser states that authors can provide open access in two ways: self-archiving journal articles in an open access repository or publishing in an open access journal. Thus, open access as a means of information distribution is imperative in conjunction with scholarly communication.

In support of OA Nikos points to an informative article by Danny Kingsley published online in The Conversation that busts 5 commonly held myths about OA publishing and emphasises the benefits of making publicly funded research available to all.

Summary

Our needs for distributing information and communicating research findings have shifted dramatically due to constant technological growth and the rapid expansion of the Internet. One of the distinctive responses to such technological developments is the concept of ‘open access’, primarily for digital publishing. There is a need for copyright laws to co-exist in the light of new publishing procedures.

My research argues that open access publishing is an effective outcome that can balance the interests of creators and publishers in the context of technological developments and new digital platforms.

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Open access can also be an instrument for social justice to broaden social cohesion and to increase accessibility of information, safeguarding human rights for the future of developing and developed countries. Thus, it follows that current copyright regimes should be reformed, and commercial publishers’ printing policies should change accordingly.

Visit Nikos’ personal website for links to his CV and publications: http://koutras.ihrc.gr/en/

David Proser, ‘Institutional Repositories and Open Access: The Future of ScholarlyCommunication’ in Open Access to Scientific and Technical Information: State of the Art and Future Trends: ICSTI/INIST/INSERM Seminar, 23–24 January 2003, Paris, France (IOS Press, 2003) 167.
There is a website (www.sherpa.ac.uk/romeo/) that shares information about which publishers allow a version of a work to be made accessible, as well as the conditions for such publication. This illustrates the efforts made on behalf of several commercial publishers with regard to the concept of open access.
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