SCOOP: Scholarly Communications 2018: What Matters for Theological Libraries?

Scholarly Communication
Submitted by Christine Fruin, ATLA Member Programs and Scholarly Communication Manager

ATLA enjoyed exciting growth in 2018 in its scholarly communications program, with the expansion of the open access publishing program and offering of webinars and a pre-conference workshop for ATLA members on topics related to fair use, open access and publishing. Around the globe there were other interesting and intriguing developments in law, policy, and programs that were of interest and importance to libraries.

The Year in Copyright

Georgia State University – Court Reserves Case

In October 2018, the 11th Circuit Appellate Court issued another opinion in the decade-long litigation between three academic publishers and Georgia State University over the posting of copyrighted book chapters in online course reserve systems. In this latest ruling, the Appellate Court again found that the district court had erred in its application of fair use by not following the Appellate Court’s earlier instructions to restrict evaluation to the 2nd and 3rd factors, by applying a quantitative rather than qualitative analysis, and by considering evidence of price when assessing the amount and substantiality of the work used. The case was sent back to the district court for a third attempt at getting it right, at least in the eyes of the Appellate Court.

Impact on Theological Libraries

Libraries everywhere continue to grapple with the application of fair use when sharing copyrighted materials through course management or course reserves systems, and the latest ruling does little to clarify matters. Theological libraries should continue to educate faculty and persons supporting online course development on the four factors of fair use and encourage consideration of all factors rather than relying upon any mathematical formulation. In this webinar presented last spring, I shared guidance on how libraries should apply fair use in light of recent court opinions.

Further Reading

Marrakesh Treaty Signed Into Law

The Marrakesh Treaty was implemented into law in the United States in 2018. The Treaty provides a copyright exception for “authorized entities” including libraries to make materials available across borders to people with print disabilities.

Impact on Theological Libraries

For U.S. theological libraries who have the opportunity to serve persons who have print disabilities and live in the developing and majority world, the implementation of the Treaty opens the door to sharing accessible content across borders.

Further Reading

Music Modernization Act

Section 115 of the Copyright Act provides a compulsory license structure for sound recordings that until the passage of the legislative package known as the Music Modernization Act (MMA) notoriously omitted pre-1972 sound recordings. This omission left those artists at the mercy of common and state law which typically did not provide for the payment of certain royalties, which was a big problem in today’s streaming music world. Under the MMA, these recordings have now been brought under federal protection, but with complicated and somewhat confusing results. In some instances, gratefully, pre-1972 recordings may now be more freely accessible by the public.

Impact on Theological Libraries

Theological libraries who have either been actively engaged in digitally preserving and making available pre-1972 sound recordings or have utilized collections maintained by other libraries and archives will want to be aware of the effect the new legislation has on these types of projects.

Further Reading

The Year in Open Access

Big Deal Cancelations

As 2018 came to a close, the University of California System and the Max Planck Society made headlines in the scholarly world when both announced plans to sever ties with publisher Elsevier. These two research institutions are the latest names added to a growing list of entities that have canceled what are known as “big deal” journal bundles over growing concerns about pricing and access. Both UC and Max Planck cite Elsevier’s refusal to accept a “publish and read” model of open access as part of the reason for the threatened split.

Impact on Theological Libraries

For theological libraries affiliated with larger university systems who may be considering similar negotiations or terminations, they should be aware of what content their patrons access that could be impacted by any big deal terminations. For smaller or stand-alone theological libraries, it is important, as always, to be well-versed in open access and the changing nature of scholarly publishing.

Further Reading

ResearchGate Redux and the Continuing Saga of SciHub

In the fall of 2017, a group of publishers formed the Coalition for Responsible Sharing for the purpose of addressing the copyright infringement occurring on scholarly social sharing sites such as Academia.edu and ResearchGate. The group issued takedown notices and eventually filed a lawsuit against ResearchGate. Earlier in 2018, an apparent split occurred among the publishers over how to resolve the dispute, with one group hoping to cooperatively curb further infringement by educating users about copyright and the other group insisting on solving the problem through the courts. Then in October 2018, two of the publishers again filed suit against ResearchGate for further copyright infringement. Meanwhile, despite continued crackdowns in the courtroom and by international governments, SciHub continued to remain active and at the center of discussion and debate among publishers, librarians, and open access advocates.

Impact on Theological Libraries

Librarians should continue to educate and caution their faculty and students on the usage of academic social sharing sites and any sites like SciHub whose purpose is the sharing of scholarly works in contradiction of copyright. Libraries should advocate for the legal posting and reuse of copyrighted articles that their patrons have authored.

Further Reading

Plan S

No scholarly communication story in 2018 caused as much commotion as the September 2018 mandate by an international coalition of research funders for all research funded by public grants to be published in open access journals or through open access platforms beginning in 2020. Supporters (e.g., Fair Open Access Alliance, League of European Research Universities) and detractors (e.g., Association of American Publishers, researchers)  took to the web to share their reasons for why Plan S was either good or bad for researchers, publishers, readers, universities and all others impacted by scholarly publishing.

Impact on Theological Libraries

Any organized and large-scale shift toward open access is important to take notice of and to consider the issues raised by such a shift. For theological libraries at institutions who may be impacted by Plan S, which largely has European participants at this point in time, it is important to be aware of compliance questions that may come from funded researchers or general inquiries on open access and the variety of means for making one’s work available open access.

Further Reading

Government Support for Open Textbooks and Open Educational Resources

After a successful federal open textbook pilot, Congress renewed its commitment to college affordability by appropriating funds for FY19 to continue the program. States also continue to pass legislation that supports the implementation of open educational resources (OER). SPARC, a national leader in OER advocacy, released two helpful resources in 2018 to assist with state-level legislation. The OER State Policy Playbook and companion OER State Legislative Guide provide strategies and tools for advocating and monitoring local legislative initiatives that support OER.

Impact on Theological Libraries

Theological libraries should consider ways to initiate and support open educational resources at their institutions. In 2019, ATLA will investigate how it can further develop and support OER for the benefit of our members and the schools and programs they serve.

Further Reading

The Year in … Blockchain?

Block Chain

A predominant buzzword in scholarly communication news and literature this past year was “blockchain.” The jury is still out on whether this will be the publishing way of the future or whether this is just a passing fad, and most persons are still uncertain about what it fundamentally is and how it could revolutionize scholarly publishing.

Impact on Theological Libraries

For those tech-savvy digital humanists who understand and can comfortably engage with these up and coming technologies, it is an exciting time for consideration and experimentation. For most everyone else, it is always wise to stay at least casually informed of new scholarly research and publishing technologies.

Further Reading

How You Can Keep Up on News and Trends in Scholarly Communication

To keep up on scholarly communication issues throughout the year, look for the SCOOP column every month in the ATLA Newsletter but also consider these useful and informative sources:

  • IO: In the Open is a blog maintained by several scholarly communication and publishing experts from academic libraries across North America. http://intheopen.net/
  • The Idealis is a library community-curated bibliography of the latest research in library science on scholarly communication issues. https://theidealis.org/
  • The Journal of Scholarly Communication and Librarianship is an open access peer-reviewed journal publishing articles investigating the modes and technologies of scholarly communication, particularly as relates to libraries. https://jlsc-pub.org/
  • The Scholarly Kitchen is the blog of the Society of Scholarly Publishers and features posts that often inform and tantalize by a wide array of authors from both the scholarly publishing and library worlds. https://scholarlykitchen.sspnet.org/

The SCOOP, Scholarly COmmunication and Open Publishing, is a monthly column published by Christine Fruin, ATLA Member Programs and Scholarly Communication Manager, to inform ATLA members of recent developments, new resources, or interesting stories from the realm of scholarly communication and open access publishing.

Scoop

Christine Fruin is the ATLA Member Programs and Scholarly Communication Manager. As an attorney and a librarian, she has worked for over a decade promoting access to and use of diverse collections through utilization of fair use, open access, and responsible licensing.

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