A troubling result from publishing open access articles with CC-BY

For week four of the Why Open? course, we are looking at potential benefits of openness, as well as potential problems with it. There are many, many interesting stories and case studies listed on that part of the course, and I’m still working through looking at them (I’m interested in them all!).

For this post, I decided to add in another story that has recently come to my attention, and that hits home for me as an academic.

Rosie Redfield, Professor in the department of Zoology at the University of British Columbia, recently blogged about an issue that a colleague had experienced with an open access publication: after publishing in an open access journal (PLOS One), which puts a CC-BY (Creative Commons Attribution) license on published articles, she discovered that her research paper had been included in a collection of papers published by Apple Academic Press, for which the publisher was charging over $100 Canadian.

CC-BY logo, downloaded from the Creative Commons downloads page

Now, this may not seem so bad, because, after all, the CC-BY license allows this. It allows others to do anything they want with one’s work, so long as one is cited as the original author. So it would seem not to be the case that the publisher is doing anything wrong (that’s what I thought at first), and what’s really at issue here is authors not knowing that this sort of thing could happen. Thus it would seem that education about what CC-BY allows is all that is really needed (that’s also what I thought at first).

And even if the publisher is charging a lot of money for a book with open access articles in it, those articles still remain open access to be viewed by anyone, so no harm done, right?

Wrong. As I started reading more of Redfield’s posts on this issue, and when I read the results of a survey she did of researchers, I started to see some of the complications of the situation. Then when I met with her in person last week, I came to realize the nuances of what is happening and the potential problems that can result, both for researchers and for the public.

What’s the problem?

This is not simply a matter of authors being upset that someone else is making money off of their work (though as the survey results show, some do have that concern)–there are other problems as well. These are not listed in any particular order, but rather the order in which they’re coming to mind for me.

1. One might argue, as some of the authors in the survey did, that a publisher is making a profit off an open access work becomes more of a concern when authors have to pay a fee to publish in many open access journals (or to publish an article as open access in non-open access journals). Here’s a pretty thorough list of scholarly journal publishers and their “article processing charges” (APC’s). I was once asked if I wanted to pay over $2000 to have a 2-3 page book review published as open access in an otherwise closed journal. I decided the book review just wasn’t that good. 

The point is, it’s not just that some people are upset that others are making money off their work, but rather that they had to pay to publish their work open access, and they did this because they wanted the work available for others to view for free. Well, of course, it isn’t always individuals paying these APC’s–people can use grants to do so, and/or they can get funding to do so from their institution, just to name a couple of other sources of the money.

A rebuttal could be: well, the articles are still available to view for free, on the journal’s website, and likely other places around the web as well. This brings up the next problem.


2. Just because the articles are available for free elsewhere doesn’t mean the people who see the book in which they’ve been republished, and which is selling for a good chunk of money, are able to find that out easily. The problem with this particular book that Redfield talks about in her blog is that there was no indication at all that these were open access articles, and that they are available for free on the web. Of course not–that would mean no one would buy the book. Several authors in Redfield’s survey mention that they think such books should have to list the original source of the publication.

So people looking for scientific research may see the book and think they need to buy it to get access to the research. I find this quite troubling, as for me, the point of open access publishing is to allow people access to research without having to pay. That people are ending up getting duped into paying is a problem, in my view.

And it’s not just individuals, libraries may be buying such books (and using public funds to do so), as suggested in a comment on one of Redfield’s blog posts on this issue (the comment also mentions some other important downsides as well). When I met with her, Redfield told me she had spoken to a librarian at the University of British Columbia libraries, who said that they had about 50 of Apple Academic Press’s titles. Redfield was in the process of getting these titles to find out whether any of them are republications of open access articles.

Redfield notes in a blog post that actually, according to the terms of PLOS One, anyone who redistributes an article for that journal must also “make clear the license terms under which the work was published.”  The same is true for the license terms of BioMed Central. Upon looking into the legal code of the CC-BY 3.0 unported license, it seems to me that this sort of thing is required by the CC-BY license itself. It says, in section 4(a), here, that “You must include a copy of, or the Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) for, this License with every copy of the Work You Distribute or Publicly Perform.” I had forgotten this, but of course I include a link to the CC license for any CC-licensed image I use on this blog, for example, precisely for that reason.

The PLOS One license terms also say that the redistribution of articles from PLOS journals must include citation not only of the author, but also of the original source. So do the Wiley Online Open terms (which allow you to publish an open-access article in an otherwise non-open access journal). And Taylor and Francis and Routledge Open too. I’m not going to do an exhaustive search of all open journals, or journals that allow open-access content, to see what their terms are. The point is that such terms do exist, and at least in the case where the article from PLOS One was republished without citing the original source and license, such terms were violated.


3. The articles in the book Redfield talks about were edited to some degree from how they appeared in the original publications (I’m not sure how much, exactly). Of course, the CC-BY license allows others to “adapt” the work, so this is not a problem in itself. The problem comes in when one thinks about what might be possible, such as book editors making fairly significant changes to an article that, even by accident, end up making the argument weaker or suggest claims that the author would not have made him/herself.

Then, what comes into the picture is potential harm for the author, from people thinking they’ve said things they haven’t, and wouldn’t, say (if those things put the author in a bad light because they make the argument worse, or the data analysis worse, etc.). A number of the authors in Redfield’s survey said they would be worried about possible misrepresentation of the authors’ interpretations of results. Other authors worried that others might think they had self-plagiarized–published the same thing twice, without citing their earlier publication.

It might seem on the surface that the CC-BY license allows such things to happen, but as Redfield points out in one of her blog posts, CC-BY (and all CC licenses that have “attribution” as one of their requirements) have a “no endorsement” clause: those who use a work licensed CC-BY and alter it in some way, must not indicate that the original author endorses the revision of the work. The legal code of the CC-BY license makes this even clearer–see section 4(b)(iv) here. 

Since the publisher of the work Redfield discusses listed the authors as “contributors,” and did not state that the articles had been previously published elsewhere and edited for publication in the book, one could make the case that the way they’ve presented the articles suggests “endorsement” by the authors. Redfield argues for this point here.

But since the authors in this case were not told that their articles were going to be published in the book, they did not have a chance to give an endorsement or not. Nor does CC-BY require that original creators of works with a CC-BY license be informed that their works are being reused and adapted.


What should be done?

My first thought, upon seeing the first one or two of Redfield’s blog posts, was that this problem could be solved by simply educating authors about the various CC licenses, and about what is allowed under CC-BY, so they can decide whether they want to use CC-BY or some other license. I thought that those who wanted to avoid the problems noted above could choose a different license, like perhaps CC-BY-SA (share-alike)–which would require that any use of the work have an equivalent license on it, possibly reducing incentives to republish collections of such works–or CC-BY-ND (no derivatives)–which would not allow anything to be changed. There are several problems with this response.


1. It may not be the case that authors have a choice of licenses when publishing in an open access journal, or when publishing an open access article in an otherwise non-open access journal. PLOS One, for example, does not give you a choice–you have to use CC-BY or not publish there. So do BioMedCentral and PeerJ and  Sage Open. Some publishers do allow a choice, such as Wiley (you can choose a license for your open access article in an otherwise non-open access journal), and Taylor and Francis.

But those who are worried about reuse of CC-BY articles might just choose not to publish in the OA journals that require CC-BY (this does not apply to researchers who are mandated to publish open access as CC-BY, of course). Unless some other things change. Like possibly the following.


2. As noted above, the republishing of open access articles without citing the original publications and licenses under which they were published may be in violation of the license terms of the original articles. If so, then it seems logical that legal action should be taken against the publishers who violate those terms. This is what Redfield suggests in a blog post.

I agree, but who should take such legal action? It’s too much to ask for individual authors to take legal action, unless they can find legal counsel who will take on the case without charging anything, or very much. Who among us has enough money to pay attorneys and other fees to sue a publisher?

Redfield suggests perhaps the journal publishers should take on the duty of suing such book publishers, which seems to me to make sense because the book publishers are violating the terms of the journal publishers’ own licenses. But this raises other issues, as discussed in the comments to that post (authors are the ones with legal standing to sue because they hold copyright, journals may have to raise article processing fees to cover such activities).

One might also ask: what motivation do journals have to go after publishers who are redistributing content that the journal is not making money from each time it is accessed anyway? They have made money through other means than subscriptions or fee for access, so would they be motivated to try to stop such republication? Perhaps, if enough authors shy away from publishing open access articles because of fears of this sort of thing happening.



The bigger point here is the following. Even if you don’t think this is a big deal (and many don’t, as evidenced by comments on Redfield’s blog posts about this issue), it appears that there are a good number of authors who do, and who may then choose not to publish in open access journals because of it. This is ignoring the point, of course, that many researchers are now being mandated to do so; there are still quite a few who are not…though this may change soon.

Even if a journal allows a choice of licenses, authors may wonder if, were it to be the case that the license was violated, they or someone else would be able to take action to do something about it. And if no one is doing anything about it, then what’s to stop this sort of thing from spreading further, if it’s lucrative? 

Whether it is a profit-making business, whether significant numbers of individuals and libraries are buying such books, remains to be seen. And the more that authors are required to publish open access works, the more this sort of thing might become lucrative, if it isn’t already. But I think this is an issue worth paying attention to and trying to figure out what can and should be done about the violation of open access licenses in open access journals, even if one doesn’t think that has happened in this particular case.


  1. Hi Christina,
    I think I would have put a non – commercial license on my work; someone else making $$ off my expertise / research/ creations/ or writing just rubs me the wrong way. Interesting that you write this blog post at this time as I have some ideas formulating around the open culture which I will soon be blogging about. I noticed a tweet by Alec Couros about one of his own photos finding its way onto a commercial website without attribution and I think the pics are of his children ( not 100% sure).



      1. Thanks for the link, Bill–I hadn’t seen this story. It did turn out well, exactly how things are supposed to work. Sometimes that happens, and perhaps it even happens a lot. My main concerns is, what can be done when it doesn’t turn out well? Even if the situation I described here does eventually turn out well, what happens when it doesn’t?

  2. Thoughtful post. I am torn on the CC licenses, and have come to that the on I like the best is CC-BY-NC. After all, it does not preclude commercial use; it just forces those who want to use a work to contact the author first. Not truly open, but, in my opinion, commercial use is not open either. I have no problems limiting someones abilty to earn money on work that is not theirs.

    1. Hi Fredrik, and Janet–you both suggested CC-BY-NC. I can see why this would make sense, since what it would seem to do is not allow precisely this sort of thing to happen. Personally, I am not concerned with the issue of someone else making money from my work–I put it out there with an open license, and I don’t mind if that happens. If I had wanted to make money, I could have tried to do so. If someone else can figure how to do so, that’s great. I am also troubled by how difficult it is to define “commercial,” and how many potential uses might get shut down if I require NC. Yes, people could just ask, but that’s a hurdle some are not going to make and they’ll just use someone else’s work instead. I’m not saying everyone should think this way; it’s just how I personally feel.

      What troubles me is others making money in a way that does not ALSO let people know where to find the original, and what the license on the original was. So, for example, if someone took an article that I wrote and openly licensed, and put it into a book to sell for a profit, that’s fine with me IF: (1) it’s clearly marked where the original came from (this is required by at least some open access journals’ policies), (2) it’s clearly marked what license the original had (this seems required by the CC licenses), and (3) if it’s been changed, that is stated and there is no suggestion that I endorse the changes (also required by CC licenses that allow derivatives.

      So for me, this issue is starting to come down to not following some of the license terms, and if those had been followed, then the concern, at least for me, would be less. Others might still be concerned about people making money, in which case they should probably use NC. But even then, if the license terms aren’t being followed, and individuals can’t afford to take publishers to court, then whichever license is chosen is kind of moot in the end.

  3. The overlap between creative commons licenses and open access is one of the areas that I’m studying. Rosie’s research has brought up just one of the potential problems with the CC-BY license. Actually none of the CC licenses quite fit open access as much as one might think. For example, there is nothing in any CC license, including CC-BY, that says that works, whether original or downstream, must be provided free of charge. One way to think of this is to consider the CC overlap with open source licensing, an area that is important to many in the CC community. Open in terms of software means the code is available so that it can be rewritten; this is seen as fully compatible with selling the software.

    The reason this is important is because CC-BY includes what may be the biggest loophole in open access seen so far: the potential for re-enclosure under paywall for commercial advantage. The downstream user cannot legally take down the original, but they have no obligation to make sure that it stays available, and there is nothing to stop a commercial company from using means such as lobbying to eliminate the free competition. An argument could be made that this is how businesses operate, and they have a legal obligation to do this.

    Links to some of my work in this area can be found here: http://poeticeconomics.blogspot.ca/2013/08/creative-commons-and-open-access.html

    It’s really good to see some critical reflection on these issues, thank you for this post.

    1. Thank you, Heather–I haven’t seen your writings on this issue, and will definitely read some soon. I’m a little confused about the CC-BY and payment possibility. I see how it works with open source software –the code has to be made available and be able to be changed (if it’s to count as “free software”), but you can still charge for the actual software product. Those who buy the software also have to be able to access the source code, and those who redistribute the software (with or without changes) have to make the source code available too. Those who change and redistribute can also charge for the software down the road, but have to provide the source code to anyone who has the software.This is how I understand that situation at the moment. I tried to puzzle through this in an earlier post, here.

      So how would this work with, say, an article with a CC-BY license? Are you suggesting that I could try to sell an article I wrote and gave a CC-BY license? I suppose so…I could say once you purchase this article, you can do anything you want with it as long as you attribute me (and follow the other license terms). I guess making it accessible for free in the first place isn’t a requirement of CC-BY, nor is making it accessible for free downstream, of course. Which, if this is the case, could indicate that CC-BY-SA doesn’t mean anyone downstream must make it accessible for free?

      I may be completely misunderstanding your point, or the facts of these two cases, but now I’m intrigued. Will need to go read what you’ve written!

      1. Here is a bit more of an explanation on how CC-BY (and any of the CC licenses) are consistent with paywalls downstream. When a work is published CC-BY, someone else can use it, including for commercial purposes, as long as they attribute the original. The CC licenses do not permit adding DRM to the actual works, but they cannot stop a paywall before one gets to the work (this would probably be impossible, as most of us go through some kind of paywall to access the internet).

        To take a real-world possibility, consider that in 2008 BioMedCentral, the world’s largest open access publisher, was sold to Springer, the world’s second-largest commercial scholarly publisher, which operates primarily in a toll access environment. Springer was recently sold to new private owners, the fourth such sale of this company in about a decade. There is nothing in the CC-BY license that requires that downstream owners of a publishing company have to continue to make the works open access. If the current or future owners of a company like Springer decided to put the BMC articles behind a paywall to make more profit, there is nothing in the CC-BY license to stop them from doing this. Fortunately the BMC articles are also in PubMedCentral – but note that a commercial entity that wanted to charge for these works would have incentive to lobby against public funding for PMC, and in this anti-government-spending climate almost everywhere, they might well succeed. To avoid this possibility I recommend against the push for ubiquitous CC-BY, and strongly encourage all authors to self-archive in institutional open access archives as well as disciplinary ones.

        I am not sure that CC-BY-SA (sharealike) would require that freely given works be freely given downstream; the only stipulation is that downstream works have to carry the same license.

        It seems to me that we are understandably looking for simple solutions when the matters involved are very complex and merit deep consideration.

        FYI, I am a strong open access and creative commons advocate, I just think it’s unwise to see CC as a panacea.

        1. Thank you for this clarification and the example, Heather. It’s important to recognize that open access publications may not necessarily remain open access, if the only place they appear is in a journal that may be bought by another journal (depending on the license on the original publication). I agree that putting published articles also in repositories is a good idea, as far one’s agreements with publishers allows. then Then there are at least some copies available regardless of what happens–though definitely this does not mean that people can always find them!

          My response to this issue so far has been to focus on how it could be significantly mitigated by by the later publishers actually adhering to the terms of the CC-BY license and stating what license the original had, and also saying where the original can be found. In the case discussed here, that could have notified readers that they have access to (at least some of?) these works elsewhere for free.

          But in the example you’ve just brought up, even if the original were open access, there’s a possibility that another company could buy the journal and close off access to the article. So then the only copy would be in a repository, and any later publication citing the original may not lead people to the repository.

          As for share-alike licenses, the idea with how that might discourage commercial enclosure I think is that if I use something that has an SA license of some kind, and then create a derivative, and sell the derivative, someone could buy the derivative and share it freely and openly if they wish. So I can keep selling it, but others can keep putting up free copies of it too. How this will play out is a matter of speculation, and yes, those who are trying to make money from the work will try to stop access from the free copies, but those who are committed to free and open access will keep trying to make sure those are available. Who will win? Guess we’ll have to look at individual cases and how they play out in various contexts.

          Thank you for giving me (and anyone reading this!) more to think about here–much appreciated.

        2. CC definitely not a panacea.
          Question to me is whether academics need their own open access license and whether CC is a round peg for a square hole (free to access, free to attribute, no commercial repurposing) strikes me as the academic license required?

          1. I agree that perhaps trying to use CC for lots of different kinds of works may not be the best solution, given different needs in different contexts. But isn’t what you’re describing, Pat, something like CC-BY-NC?

  4. In reply to Heather Morrison’s comment “re- enclosure under paywall for commercial advantage”.
    This wording, I believe, explains the business model of the OER Consortium. University faculty work / research can be considered ‘sunk costs’ to the institution by virtue of salaries payed to faculty. Faculty work can be solicited or coerced for institutional OER development and then ‘re-enclosed’ (through Moocs or other uses) for ‘sale’ ( tuition) at greater scale. I became aware of this model in an online course offered 2 years ago on CC licensing.
    While I don’t like to be pessimistic, in the future, teachers could find themselves volunteering their expertise or accepting reduced pay as facilitators or mentors for programs or open course materials they originally developed and willingly shared to the open culture.

    1. This is a really important point, Janet–for as much as I love the idea of OER and sharing teaching and learning, and as much as I learn from seeing what others are doing, there are also these kinds of things going on. On the one hand, I don’t mind if my university uses what I’ve created to make a profit–so long as I’m still being compensated for doing my teaching and research work in an adequate manner. I mean, if I’m being paid to teach and make learning materials, and I share these, and the university makes money from them, that could just be an extension of me making learning materials and the university makes money from them by charging tuition for my courses. If my OERs are licensed CC-BY, then the Uni could even take what I’ve made, change it a bit (or not) and sell it to someone else. I could do that myself if I want, of course, so if that happens it seems to me my response should be that I’d better get on the ball and try to market my work if I want to make money. But personally, I’m not interested in that, so I actually don’t mind.

      IF, that is, I’m still be compensated for my teaching and research and governance work the same way as I am now. If it were to be the case that I start making less money because universities are no longer paying us to teach but are using OERs created from us and others to get the material for courses and all we are are glorifed graders, then I’ve got a problem! Is that the sort of thing you’re suggesting could happen, with your last sentence?

  5. I’m not convinced this is needs to read via CC licensing

    1) If they don’t provide the link to the original on the CC-BY, then they are breaking the license as http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creative_Commons_license#Attribution states you should go to the best of your abilities. Ah the joys of law

    2) Making changes and leaving content in tact (with attribution) suggests passing off (assuming this is relatively standard as a Common Law concept).

    So 1 and 2 are legal points, true of any content, not just CC content. The CC makes a grey area perhaps for 1 and 2, but these are within an established legal framework.

    I’d also suggest you could apply equity to CC license cases.

    This would of course assume CC actually ever took this stuff to court, but it seems recalcitrant to do so,

    So education might be one problem – but I also think CC needs to actually take some people to court, as without case law, all these terms and conditions are pretty much vapour.

    1. You’re probably right, Pat, that this isn’t just a CC issue. It came up in the context of CC, but such problems arise in any intellectual property and licensing schemes, I would imagine.

      Can you explain point (2) further? Do you mean “suggests passing off” as in suggests that the author endorses the work as changed?

      And, not being versed in common law or other law, I’m not sure what it means to apply “equity” to CC license cases.

      I do agree that legal action needs to be taken at some point, on some cases. Whether this is the exact case I don’t know–haven’t looked into the specifics enough. The question is, would it be CC’s responsibility to take those who don’t fulfill the terms of the license to court? Or would it instead be the responsibility of the people who own the copyright and have put the license on the work setting out the terms of sharing (which in most cases would be the author, unless they gave over copyright to a journal)? Again, I know very, very little about the law, but it would make sense to me that it would be the copyright holder who has legal standing to sue. Happy to be corrected if that’s wrong.

      1. Re 2) if the work is slightly altered, but treated as the original paper, then it isn’t the work of the original author (potentially) and is thus passed off as theirs (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passing_off)

        Equity – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equity_(legal_concept) – if someone breached a CC – I would sue and ask for the right to the book being pulped.

        Yes – CC shouldn’t sue – but they could set up a fighting fund. Look at the EFF for advocacy or using legal routes

        1. Okay, that’s what I thought you meant by #2; just wanted to clarify. I hadn’t heard of equity before–so the idea here is that instead of just getting monetary damages for not following the terms of the CC license, you could ask for some other remedy, that would somehow be judged through the principle of equity as to what it should be? That’s what I’m understanding so far.

          Ah, a fund to pay for suits. Very, very good idea. Then solicit donations. Like.

          1. Equity is effectively non-monetary damages – so say someone builds a disco next to your house, money doesn’t really help. Stopping the disco does.

  6. Hi Christina,

    Yes, this is a big deal, in terms of licenses, legally, editorially, etc. I agree that educating researchers might produce the opposite effect of encouraging them to publish less in OA journals and the legal option does not seem that promising for a journal. However, the legal option might be in the interest of universities since universities fund much of the research of its professors & researchers (that is, if professors can make a convincing argument to the university’s legal team). Perhaps the best way to deal in this instance with this particular publishing house is to publicize as much as possible, as Rosie Redfield is doing. Academia is a small world that is built upon reputation. Most academic articles are written for specialists. If academic societies address this in their conferences and on their listserves, the bad press might possibly help to reign in the most egregious abuse of OA articles and CC-BY (at least in academic settings). Essentially, CC-BY and OA will always be under the threat of being co-opted by downstream commercial ventures precisely because they can be viewed as easy profits with little overhead until the cost, possibly in negative publicity, is too great.

  7. I agree with you that this is a big deal, in terms of licenses, legally, editorially, etc. I also agree that initially educating more researchers about the challenges of CC-BY and OA might discourage them from publishing in OA journals and that the legal option for OA journal is not promising given limited resources. But, what about universities? Can’t an argument be made that since universities fund much of the research that finds its way into academic OA journals and with increasing pushes for scientific research in particular to be OA, then don’t universities have a stake in ensuring that OA remains OA? Perhaps, university legal departments might be able to address what happened to Rosie Redfield if a nuanced and strong argument can be made? Otherwise, since much of the currency in academia is reputation and prestige, negative publicity might be the best way to ensure that the most egregious abuses of CC-BY and OA by downstream commercial academic ventures do not occur.

    1. Good points, Jeannette. Just a quick clarification: Rosie Redfield just reported that this had happened to someone else; it didn’t happen to her.

      Universities fund much of the research that goes into OA journals, but then so do other granting agencies (e.g., in Canada there are a number of federal government grant programs, but there are also private granting agencies), and the universities often get their money from federal or state/provincial governments and student fees. So really, the money comes from quite a few places. Universities might be in the best position to make the arguments about possible harm to academic reputations, but I’m not sure most of them have enough motivation to ensure that OA research remains OA–will it harm the university itself if it doesn’t? In enough of a way for them to spend many many dollars paying for court cases?

      There are some mandates here and there around the world for researchers to publish OA, if public funding is used for their research. If those mandates are coming from governments, then perhaps governments may feel some responsibility to take on such court cases? I really don’t know…I’m just shooting in the dark here.

      I definitely agree with your last sentence–if there can be enough negative publicity of publishers who republish OA works without fulfilling the terms of the licenses, then this might help address the problem, though it’s a never ending battle to keep on top of such things.

      Really, for me, if we could just make sure the terms of the CC-BY license and some of the publishers’ policies of requiring citation of the original source and the original license were followed, then this problem would be much, much less in my eyes. I’m not so concerned that people are selling such works; I’m concerned that they’re not clarifying at the same time that those works are available elsewhere, for free. If that is clarified, then I’m not too worried about this…yet…until convinced otherwise!

    1. That’s true, Christian, though of course there are varied views on what “open” means, and many heated debates. But yes, according to this definition of open, NC wouldn’t be open. But there are, I think, legitimate arguments to be taken seriously on the other side. I tried to do so in an earlier post, in case you’re interested. I still agree, at this point, with what I wrote there–that I take the arguments for NC seriously, but I still, in many cases (including my own work) feel that commercial enclosure is not enough of a threat to require NC clauses.

      This particular example discussed in this post does not change my view on that. I think this was a matter of not actually adhering to the terms of the CC-BY license (by not giving the original license of the work), and to the terms of at least one of the journals from which a paper in the book was taken, which required citing the original source of the paper as that journal. Had these two things been done, plus stating that the original had been changed, it would meant this issue would be, in my mind, pretty much a non-issue.

  8. Just PLoS ONE alone has published almost 100k OA articles since its inception. Now editors are going through all of these articles and picking the ‘best’ ones for a compilation in a book. And after all of this work (that Nature editors charge a hefty fee for, pre-publication!), some people are actually concerned that the publisher charges a measly 100 dollars for such a book? Granted, Nature (with a self-proclaimed cost *per article* of 35,000 dollars) would claim their selection process is much more rigorous and ‘high quality’ – but one only needs to look at the retraction rate of journals like Nature to get an idea just how ‘rigorous’ their selection is.

    Bottom line: one can complain that the way in which this particular publisher is re-using the articles can be improved, but if anything, this sort of post-publication review and filter is what we need to see *more* of, not less.

    Would the affected authors be equally dismayed if someone developed the cure for a disease after reading one of these books as a means to get up to speed on that particular affliction?
    I can understand the issues with form, but that doesn’t mean the function is equally bad.

    Everyone concerned about this practice ought to on fire to get rid of GlamMagz and then deal with this minor issue.

    1. It’s possible the editors are giving a filter that would be useful for determining quality of the articles, or they’re picking ones that they think will help sell books, which need not be the same things, of course. I don’t know what their particular motivation or selection process is, but for a for-profit publisher, wouldn’t “what sells” be very prominent in that list?

      I understand the point that getting information out there, into the hands of people who could do useful things with it, is a good thing, and perhaps books of this nature might help serve that function. I’m not sure, as I’m an academic and so my view is skewed a bit–I don’t know what people who are not academics will be most likely to turn to when they’re trying to find information on a topic. But I would rather they be able to access information on such things for free when they are available for free. What might seem a measly 100 to some could be a very, very high sum to others, and why ask them to pay that when the works are available online, for free, elsewhere? (I’m not making any particular claims about the book discussed in this post–it may have had some non-open-access articles in it. I’m making a point about a possible case that could easily happen, and may already have happened, where a book is sold that has only articles in it that are available for free elsewhere.) The information is already available for free; perhaps it’s a matter of making it more widely known that it is so? Then people wouldn’t have to shell out money when it’s not necessary to do so, to get the same information.

      As you can tell from the post, I disagree that this is a minor issue, at least in the sense of articles being changed and yet still being tied to authors as if that is what the author themselves said. If that sort of thing is happening, it needs to be stopped somehow, whether through legal or negative publicity measures, because it can lead to problems for scholarly authors in terms of reputation and job prospects.

  9. Hi everyone:

    Just a quick note to say that I will respond to the most recent comments as soon as I can. Courses begin tomorrow at my university, and I’m just swamped at the moment getting ready for the first day of classes!

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