Big FriendFeed chatter on the interwebs yesterday about JoVE “moving” to a closed access model.
This is being covered extensively on the FF conversation so I won’t dredge through the points there – if you want to see the arguing and JoVE responses, head over there.
What’s interesting for me is the lack of conversation about the importance of licensing. There is a reason Open Access talks about copyrights in the definitions. Let’s go back and remember:
By “open access” to this literature, we mean its free availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself. The only constraint on reproduction and distribution, and the only role for copyright in this domain, should be to give authors control over the integrity of their work and the right to be properly acknowledged and cited. – Budapest Open Access Initiative (emphasis mine)
I say this all the time, but I’m going to say it yet again. If you don’t use a permissive copyright license you are not an Open Access publisher. JoVE was never OA. They simply weren’t charging for their publications. JoVE was shareware, and the bill’s come due.
I would rather have seen them go the other way to deal with the crisis – throw it really open and follow BioMed Central and Hindawi, who’ve found profit in Creative Commons licenses and truly open strategies – rather than embrace a model that is fast on its path from dominant predator to dinosaur to petroleum base. But that’s their call and the authors who submitted, the editors who edited, and the community gave them that power instead of pushing for a model that actually fit the BBB declarations.
If they’d been OA, this conversion would still be a sad moment, but at least we’d have the rights to repost the old videos. Now they’re all gone behind firewalls, but in the end, didn’t anyone notice they didn’t give users *any* rights? I didn’t know JoVE well but even I knew this – Moshe said this at several fora where he and I spoke together. It wasn’t a secret.
This is perhaps a good moment to remind everyone that the SPARC seal is an attempt to deal with this. If your journal isn’t giving users clear rights, and is claiming the OA mantle, it’s time to call the bluff and get an open license or get the OA branding and good vibes out the door. The one sad thing I’ve heard in all of this is that JoVE has called itself OA from time to time – I’d never heard it but it’s apparently true, and that’s a shame. The gratis v. libre distinction in software is well-worn and worth remembering here…
But the more this kind of thing happens the more it hurts the movement. It gives power to those who say “open doesn’t work!” – even when the publisher wasn’t open. So we better shine a light on *any publisher* who is trying to say they are OA while retaining the rights to enclose the content down the line if economic pressures make it an expedient strategy change. I’m proposing “PyriteOA” as a tag for blog postings where this happens…because “open” without rights is just fool’s Gold.