At the end of 2001, a number of people (me included) came together in Budapest and set out to give the emerging notion that research results, particularly those obtained with public funds, should be available and usable by anybody, anywhere. There wasn’t an agreed term for that notion – ‘free online scholarship’ (FOS) and ‘free access’ were some of the terms relatively frequently used – and in Budapest we settled on the term ‘open access’. The meeting in Budapest resulted in the Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI) and in the declaration issued a few months later, we explained what we meant by ‘open access’ of the scholarly peer reviewed research literature:
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.
While this definition has a flaw – there is no mention of immediacy in it – it clearly does include the right to reuse.
So why has there be a recantation of one of the original signatories of the BOAI definition (perhaps more than one, but that I don’t know, and I doubt it)? And why has the BOAI definition been watered down, even adulterated, by some other people. ‘Free access’, ‘gratis access’, ‘public access’, etc. all disregard reuse, a crucial element of the notion of ‘open access’ and of its BOAI definition (as well as of the Bethesda and Berlin Statements on OA – “The author(s) and copyright holder(s) grant(s) to all users a free, irrevocable, worldwide, perpetual right of access to, and a license to copy, use, distribute, transmit and display the work publicly and to make and distribute derivative works, in any digital medium for any responsible purpose, subject to proper attribution of authorship.”). The Creative Commons Attribution licence (CC-BY) best captures the intention of these definitions.
What are the motives of those who don’t like CC-BY and the reuse element of the BOAI/Bethesda/Berlin definitions and do what they can to water it all down to access without reuse?
Are these some?
- Expediency – giving up difficult to reach ideals for potentially easier to reach, though sub-optimal, goals;
- Appeasement – giving in to established powers and processes;
- Putting career advancement above the advancement of science;
- General contrarianism.
Quite possibly a combination of these, and more. Let’s have an open dialogue, including as John Wilbanks suggested, “about the ways publishers are exploiting green to undermine OA.”