University Of California Gives Big Boost To Open Access, Still Confused About Sharing Knowledge

from the make-up-your-mind dept

Techdirt has been monitoring for a while the inexorable rise of open access in the academic world. But even against a background of major wins, this latest news from the University of California (UC) is still big, not least because it seems to represent a major shift there:

The Academic Senate of the University of California has passed an Open Access Policy, ensuring that future research articles authored by faculty at all 10 campuses of UC will be made available to the public at no charge. “The Academic Council’s adoption of this policy on July 24, 2013, came after a six-year process culminating in two years of formal review and revision,” said Robert Powell, chair of the Academic Council. “Council’s intent is to make these articles widely — and freely — available in order to advance research everywhere.” Articles will be available to the public without charge via eScholarship (UC’s open access repository) in tandem with their publication in scholarly journals.

So just how big? This big:

The policy covers more than 8,000 UC faculty at all 10 campuses of the University of California, and as many as 40,000 publications a year. It follows more than 175 other universities who have adopted similar so-called “green” open access policies

Or put another way:

UC is the largest public research university in the world and its faculty members receive roughly 8% of all research funding in the U.S.

As the associated FAQ spells out, this new policy mandates “green” open access — that is, depositing articles in a university repository, where they can be published under a range of CC licenses, chosen by the authors. This move represents a big boost to the store of information freely available to anyone with an Internet connection. It’s hugely welcome both for itself, and for the likely knock-on effects it will have on other institutions around the world.

However, there’s something a little odd here. On the one hand, we have the University of California generously making available at no cost the fruits of its academic work “in order to advance research everywhere.” On the other, we have the University of California aggressively using patents to enclose knowledge, and to extract rents from it, which is likely to discourage research because of the risk that UC might see it as infringing on its patents. Confused much?

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Comments on “University Of California Gives Big Boost To Open Access, Still Confused About Sharing Knowledge”

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Mike bro, you really could give up the whole spheal about patents “enclosing knowledge”. They don’t “enclose knowledge” they enclose your ability to put knowledge to a novel non-obvious and useful end, and generally the only time this enclosure comes into play is when you’re out selling something.

If the patent is genuinely “enclosing knowledge” with some claims then those claims are invalid, just as in the Mayo case.

The fact of that matter is bro the patent system, when properly used in the useful arts, rather than the softwarelol and business methodlol arts, helps to disclose knowledge while not “enclosing” the actual knowledge. It only the encloses application thereof for a little while, and that is in exchange for the actual disclosure of the knowledge.

And let me be clear, while there are a lot of disclosures in this world teaching “knowledge” about my art, there are a boat load of patents that really get into the nitty gritty about how to apply that knowledge in a useful way. The patent system encourages that disclosure, and companies would not disclose that knowledge, and how to apply it, without the patent. Trust me, I have some small personal experience dealing with just such companies.

John Fendersonsays:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

While he’s not entirely correct about patents doing what they’re supposed to do (reveal enough information so that the patent can be replicated), he is correct that the patent system encourages disclosure. Perhaps not to the degree intended, but to some degree more than would exist without patents.

The proof is in history. Before patents, engineering knowledge was usually kept secret and unavailable to society.


Re: Re: Re: Re:

It’s true that IV trolls people with questionable patents at times, though they probably utilize actual technical patents that at one time did good for the system. And while I personally think patents should be inalienable (in this context not for sale from the original owner) that is not how lawlyers insist they should be.

And yes, shell companies are a problem that pervades many areas of lawl, I’d like to see them die also.

As to fraud, if it can be proven then meh it gets taken care of.

John Fendersonsays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

It’s true that IV trolls people with questionable patents at times, though they probably utilize actual technical patents that at one time did good for the system

At times? I suppose, if you mean “frequently”. IV does with patents what the financial crooks did with mortgages: it mixes a few good ones with a bunch of bad ones and makes people license the entire batch at a time. That way, they can make money off of patents that should not exist. The presence of some good patents in no way legitimizes IV’s business model.

As to fraud, if it can be proven then meh it gets taken care of.

It does? When did they change that policy?


Patents and disclosure

First, the patent description is written in legalese — it?s completely meaningless as a means of sharing knowledge.

Second, many companies have explicit Do-Not-Look policies about patents. Employees are not allowed to search for, read, or make reference to any patent for fear triple damages if they are later found to have infringed.

The public disclosure of patents is completely meaningless in real life.

(h/t nonono commenting on

How to make the U of C OA mandate work

Aside from the default copyright-reservation mandate with opt-out, always add an immediate-deposit clause without opt-out:

The deposit need not be immediately made OA, but it needs to be deposited in the institutional repository immediately upon acceptance for publication. While access to the deposit is embargoed, the repository can implement the eprint-request Buttonwith which users can request and authors can provide the eprint with one keystroke each:

Deposit should always be done directly by the author (or the author’s personal designee: student, research assistant or secretary). It is a big mistake to “submit” the paper instead to the provost’s office. At other universities with this style of mandate the provost’s office has sat on papers for years instead of depositing them; this is even worse than publication lag or publishers’ OA embargoes.

If deposit is instead left to the provost’s office, immediate-deposit will not become the natural milestone in the author’s research cycle that it needs to become, in order to ensure that the deposit is done at all: The dated acceptance letter from the journal is sent to the author. That sets the date of immediate-deposit and also determines which version is the final, refereed accepted one. The publication date is uncertain and could be as much as a year or more after acceptance.

Mandate deposit immediately upon acceptance for publication, but otherwise, having mandated the N-1 of the author keystrokes required for deposit, in case of embargo, leave the Nth keystroke to the author, in responding to Button-mediated eprint requests.

Put all administrative efforts instead into monitoring mandate compliance — by systematically collecting the dated acceptance letters instead of the papers themselves, and ensuring that the repository deposit-date is within a few days or weeks of the acceptance date.

See also:

1st-Party Give-Aways Vs. 3rd-Party Rip-Offs
Almost-OA: “Frictional Access”

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