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mardi 20 mars 2018

Green Open Access strategy

Liège OA model 

Why should you sign the open letter Pour une science ouverte en Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles? 
[Publication 20.03.2018]

Green Grass and Blue Sky, CC0
This is a call to Switzerland based (and European) researchers, librarians, archivists, swissuniversities and Swiss National Foundation members to sign the open letter intended for Belgian Parliament


The aim of decree is to extend the institutional Open Access (OA) strategy of Liège University, called also "Liège model", to the federal Belgian level by changing copyright law.

  • The Belgian decree is not about mandatory Green-OA (Open Access), it is about a mandatory deposit for all types of publication into institutional public archives. 
  • The researcher decides then to open full text or not, according to publisher conditions checked for example with Sherpa/Romeo tool.
  • Copyright transfer to publisher remains untouched, and there is no non exclusive licence given to institutions. 
  • Academic freedom is preserved, ie freedom of where, how, when to publish 
  • Favor the practice of Green-OA because it is combined with institutional researcher evaluation practice with the institutional database (ORBI), and supporting DORA declaration by avoiding to rely on WoS and related Impact Factor mainly or only. 
In Germany, a "harder" version of Green-OA was already adopted some years ago. Copyright reform included a secondary right of publication. 

  • Apparently, it may favor Green-OA more efficiently than Liège model. But in reality, the inclusion of a secondary publication right in copyright does not seem sufficient to ensure its application with publishers based abroad.

    The principle of autonomy is provided by the Rome Convention: 
    • "The contract is governed by the law chosen by the parties. This choice must be express or result in a certain manner from the provisions of the contract or circumstances of the case. By that choice, the parties may designate the applicable to all or only part of their contract. " Parties can choose a neutral law" from a country that has no connection with the operation.
    • In the case of signing a contract between a researcher-author in Germany and a publisher based abroad, it is international private law that applies, and the secondary publication right in German law does not prevail necessarily on the country of the publisher that would not. The scope of the right to secondary publication is therefore limited.
  • Moreover, some professors rejected mandatory OA adopted by its institution Konstanz University: 
    • Some professors are concerned about academic freedom violation ie freedom of where, how, when to publish
    • Some law professors consider that institutional mandatory OA might be a violation of the federal law containing the right of secondary publication. An institutional law cannot be higher than a federal law. 

In Switzerland, Professors Florent Thouvenin, Daniel Hürlimann, Bertil Cottier, & Blaise Carron proposed a secondary right of publication:
I see the Liège model as tool to favor OA at low cost at institutional level, that could be adopted easily, and pragmatically by swissuniversities, before the next copyright putative reform in 25 years.

Therefore, signing this Belgian open letter may be the first step to favor OA at reasonable costs in Switzerland. Liège model is not a big and loud revolution, it is quiet, slow, and preserve academic freedom, but it is efficient.

Adoption of Liège model by swissuniversities would have the advantage to preserve fragile innovative new publication alternative players, such as eLife, Scipost, OLH, PloS, ScienceMatters journals, alternative initiative such as FairOpenAccessAlliance , and open publishing softwares and platforms Public Knowledge, 
KnowledgeUnlatched and HOPE.  

In contrary, OA Big Deals "Read & Publish" announced by swissuniversities may reinforce the dominant position of STM legacy publishers Elsevier, Springer, Wiley and Taylor and Francis (Négociations avec les éditeurs internationaux by swissuniversities Press release and Factsheet ) and kill new initiatives; by the way Liège model is totally compatible with OA Big Deals, if you also agree with this swissuniversities OA strategy!

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