Transcript: What You Should Know About “Open Access”

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What You Should Know About “Open Access”
an interview with Roy Kaufman, Managing Director of New Ventures, Copyright Clearance Center

for podcast release Monday, August 13, 2012

On Wednesday, September 5, Copyright Clearance Center presents, Open Access: Key Considerations and Solutions for New Business Models, with Roy Kaufman, CCC’s Managing Director of New Ventures. The free program will cover issues publishers should consider when developing or refining an Open Access business strategy, and will be an opportunity to learn how CCC can provide technology solutions for OA publishers.

In this preview podcast, Roy Kaufman offers a brief Open Access backgrounder for authors and publishers. To learn more about Copyright Clearance Center and Open Access, go to

KENNEALLY: The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge is generally considered the first home of scientific publishing as we understand it today, as society’s members began to share word of their inquiries and discoveries in 1665, the year a great plague swept through London and killed more than 100,000.

Then, as now, scientific publishing rested on the principle that an open exchange of research via publication of the outcomes of experiments would pave the way to greater knowledge and improve the common good. But of course, peer-reviewed academic and scientific publishing is hardly the same business in the digital age as it was in Tudor England.

Welcome, everyone, to a podcast from Copyright Clearance Center. My name is Christopher Kenneally. Open access, OA, is the single catchphrase for an innovative set of business models expressly created for the Worldwide Web. Although the terms sounds monolithic, it sweeps up a great many approaches to a single challenge – sharing knowledge.

Roy Kaufman is Managing Director of New Ventures at Copyright Clearance Center, and author of Publishing Forms and Contracts. Prior to joining Copyright Clearance Center in January, Kaufman served as Legal Director, Wiley-Blackwell, John Wiley & Sons, Inc. He speaks frequently on issues of copyright, artists’ rights, and anti-piracy, and Roy joins me today from his CCC office in Times Square to help explain the intricacies of OA publishing. Welcome, Roy.

KAUFMAN: Thanks very much, Chris. I’m glad to be here.

KENNEALLY: Well, we’re delighted to have a chance to speak with you. We’re talking, Roy, ahead of a program Copyright Clearance Center will present on Wednesday, September 5th, a free webinar called Open Access: Key Considerations and Solutions for New Business Models.

On September 5th, Roy and I will cover issues that publishers should consider when developing or refining an open access business strategy. There will also be an opportunity to learn how CCC can provide technology solutions for OA publishers. To learn more about that event, go to

Now today, Roy, we’re going to preview the September 5th webinar with a brief OA backgrounder for authors and publishers. So, open access covers a multitude of virtues. Let’s begin with some basic definitions. What are the principal goals of open access? And something we’ve spoken about in the past here at CCC comes into play, and that’s Creative Commons.

KAUFMAN: OK, so, let’s start with open access and the goals of open access. Again, as you mentioned in your introduction, open access really involves a whole lot of different business models, different ideas and concepts, and therefore, a whole lot of different motivations.

But at its most basic, open access refers to publishing peer-reviewed academic journals and scientific journals in a manner where a reader on the Worldwide Web can get access to the article without having to go through a pay wall.

So, to put this in a little bit of historical context, scientific journals actually were pretty early adopters of the Worldwide Web. I was working on a Web-based journal in 1995, so it was way before we had, frankly, browsers that were as useful as they are today.

KENNEALLY: Back to the days of Prodigy, practically.

KAUFMAN: Yeah, that’s it, and surfing Gopherspace with Veronica, if you can remember that.

KENNEALLY: That’s right. (laughter)

KAUFMAN: Yeah, that goes back. (laughter) Anyway, so when the journals started to go online, the business model that followed was basically the same historic model, which was a subscription-based model. So, you could access a journal through a subscription, typically an institutional subscription, but not online. And with that, you would either get a user name and password, or IP authentication.

After it started to develop a little bit, and the subscription model started to take off, the journals moved very much into a subscription-plus pay-per-view model, so you could access an article, and one of the decisions that the scientific publishers made early on when they created a technology called CrossRef was that abstracts would all be outside the firewalls. And that was really the first open access, I think. It was an actual decision, because abstracts had, and still do have, a lot of value.

So the idea was, in addition to buying by subscription, you could buy, as we say, by the drink. You could get to an abstract and you could say, I want to read this article, but if you’re not authenticated through your subscription because you don’t have one, you could purchase it.

Open access wants to take that one step further, so you can find the article, and you can get to it without paying. And it comes in many varieties, and actually, many forms of the articles. So sometimes, you’re talking about the version of record, and sometimes you’re talking about the accepted version, and sometimes you’re even talking about the version that was submitted to the publisher.

But, to get back to your question and without adding undue complication, which is kind of hard not to do when you’re talking about open access, it’s really about having things out there outside the pay wall so that anyone can get to it. And it very often means that someone else or some other mechanism has to be used to pay for the publication.

KENNEALLY: Now, as we often point out at Copyright Clearance Center, just because something is available online, it doesn’t mean it’s in the public domain, necessarily, and this is true even with open access. Many of these journals that publish these articles do so with certain types of licenses, typically that come from Creative Commons. Can you talk about those?

KAUFMAN: Sure. So, as you indicate, and as, I think, people often realize but sometimes forget, just because something is online does not mean that it isn’t protected by copyright, or that it’s in the public domain. And in fact, in the absence of any terms and conditions, the full panoply of copyrights work and protect it.

So, when you access something, or see something on the Web, unless there are terms and conditions that say, you can do X, Y and Z, whatever rights you have are defined by the copyright law.

However, most publishers want users to have certain rights, and particularly with open access content, they’ve been adopting, largely, two standards, although it’s not exclusively that.

So it began with open access articles being out there on the Internet, and the publisher would have its terms and conditions. (break in audio) typically say something like, you can use this for private use, you can’t use this for commercial use – things like that.

There started to be a lot of pressure, I think, from the funding agencies, who are funding the research that ends up in some of these articles, and the funding agencies are one of the key drivers and influencers for open access. So there started being some pressure from them for standardization. And Creative Commons, which is an organization – you can find them on the Web, they’re everywhere, and they created licensing standards. And basically, it’s designed to be very easy to use, and you put up a couple of initials, basically, CC-BY, or CC-BY-NC, and what you’re telling anyone who’s accessing the content is, you can do whatever’s allowed in the license that’s attached to those initials.

So, a CC-BY, CC just means Creative Commons, and BY is actually “by.” So a CC-BY license is a license that you would use that says, if you see this content, you can use it for anything, commercial or non-commercial use, as long as there’s attribution. That’s what BY means, it means attribution. So that’s sort of one widely adopted standard

And then there’s another widely adopted standard, which is the CC-BY-NC, NC standing for non-commercial. And the notion here is, as long as you’re not using it for commercial purposes, the reader, the person who’s accessing the content, is free to do what they want, but if they’re going to use it for commercial purposes, such as reprints, or contextual advertising or something else, they need to go to the publisher.

KENNEALLY: Right. We are talking with Roy Kaufman, head of a program Copyright Clearance Center will present on Wednesday, September 5th, a free webinar called Open Access: Key Considerations and Solutions for New Business Models. And Roy, that’s a great start.

I guess what we want to then move into then move into is, what all this means to scientific publishers. When they go OA, for example, that can mean a host of things. And sort those out for us.

KAUFMAN: Well, I’m not sure I can sort those out in anything less than about six hours –

KENNEALLY: Well, you have about six minutes. (laughter)

KAUFMAN: OK. So, when we say going OA, what we’re generally talking about is, publishers adopting an author pays model of open access publishing. So remember, when I said with open access publishing, the reader on the Web can get to that article without having to go through a paywall. Well, obviously, doesn’t mean free, and it actually costs a lot of money to maintain an infrastructure capable of publishing an article, much less to actually publish one.

So, the way the models have been evolving is, it’s becoming a – what’s called author fee paid, and sometimes the authors are paying out of money from funding agencies. I’d mentioned them before. And sometimes, they’re paying out of their own pockets or their general research funds. And under the author paid model, payment goes to the publisher, and then the material is made open access.

And within that, there are many, many variations, but the two main things that you sort of look at, the two main variations, are what I’ll call pure open access journals. So, the biggest journal, I think in the world, but certainly best-known for this model is PLOS ONE, published by PLOS, the Public Library of Science. And that’s a journal which is only open access. So the only – I shouldn’t say the only. The primary business model for that journal is author fees. You may also get grants – I think PLOS does get grants from people to help underwrite the publication process and the like.

Then there’s what’s called hybrid journals. And at this point, a lot of the traditional subscription journals that have been around forever have moved into a hybrid model. And the hybrid model basically says, if you’re an author and you want to publish in this subscription journal, and you get accepted, then you can make this article open access if you pay a fee.

And it’s important. Usually this – the notification that someone wants to make this open access is going to happen after acceptance, so that there’s no question that the fee had anything to do with whether or not there was a publishing decision, because it’s one of the risks in an author paid model, is that standards may start to vary.

KENNEALLY: Right. People don’t want to give the impression that something is a pay-to-play.

KAUFMAN: Exactly.

KENNEALLY: Now, you’ve, I think, made it pretty clear that this is a complicated area of scientific publishing, and a point I think you’ve emphasized for me in the past is that one size really doesn’t fit all, and that it’s too simplistic to think of it that way. Why would that be the case?

KAUFMAN: Okay, well, there’s a lot of reasons. First of all, every journal – like every book, like every other product, is going to be looked at by a publisher, whether you’re a not-for-profit publisher or a commercial publisher, in terms of the economics of that journal. And the economics of journals, even in the subscription model, are a lot more variable than I think people give credit to or realize.

So, for example, within a subscription model, you’ve got lots of other sources of revenue. You could have advertising, print advertising, you can have electronic advertising, you could have reprints revenues, you could have author fees, of course, as we’ve talked about. You can have personal rates, and member rates, and institutional rates, and then you can have site licenses and all of that. And so there’s a whole lot of variation within – just talking now, not an open access, within a subscription model, as to what the revenue sources are.

Open access, right now, and I think it’s a sign that open access is maturing and that the complexity is starting to be added to it, it began with publishers saying, OK, we’ll charge X to make any article open access in what’s now a hybrid journal. But when you get right down to it, a funding agency might have a different requirement.

So if the author is from a funding agency that requires a CC-BY license – in other words, the publisher cannot exercise exclusive commercial rights in that article – well, that’s very different from someone whose funding agency says, yes, publish open access, but publishers can retain commercial rights.

Even more simply, a lot of society publishers, they have society members. And so, they might price differently, or want to have different terms and conditions for what their society members can do within their open access programs from what unaffiliated members could want to do. Moreover, as publishers and users and others start to experiment with different models – I’ve seen recently a model where one publisher allows an institution to pay a fee, not a particularly high fee, and in exchange for that fee, every faculty member at the intuition gets a discount off their standard open access fees.

So, what we’re starting to see is, as open access matures as a true business and as an actual alternative to pure subscription based publishing, that the variations in the business models, the requirements of funders, the different types of journals – some journals, say, biomedical sciences tend to have higher open access rates, higher adoption rates, than, say, chemistry. Chemistry tends to have relatively low adoption. Chemistry is not a – open access doesn’t seem to be as big an issue in the chemistry community.

So it’s starting to get really complex, and we’re really starting to see that complexity. But in a funny way, that complexity is a sign of maturity, because you never look at a publisher’s portfolio. If a publisher has 150 journals, each of those journals has its own institutional price, and may have two or three other prices, depending on whether it’s part of a package, depending on whether there’s member subscriptions or personal rate subscriptions.

So that’s what we’re finally – well, I don’t want to say, finally. That’s what we’re starting to see more and more, in open access publishing.

KENNEALLY: And I think you make a good point, that this kid of complexity is a sign of a maturity or a growing maturity in this marketplace, and what we’re seeing, and we’ve been seeing recently, is a degree of experimentation, and you were outlining what some of the possible avenues are for publishers. And one example we could talk about is the American Chemical Society, and they’ve gone about their AuthorChoice program by slicing it in four different ways. Talk about that.

KAUFMAN: Sure. So, they have a program, it’s called AuthorChoice, as you mentioned, and these are hybrid journals. So these are subscription journals where, for a fee, the article will be made available outside the pay wall. And they go from a base fee, which is $3,000, to a fee which is for non-members – so the authors aren’t members, and they’re the largest – I believe they’re, if not the largest, one of the largest academic societies in the world, so a lot of the – most of the people writing for them are going to be members, but they have a fee for someone who is not a member, but at an institution who subscribes. They have a fee for someone who’s a member at an institution that doesn’t subscribe, and they have another fee, which is for members who are at subscribing institutions.

So, if you can follow that, follow it, and if not, just Google AuthorChoice at the American Chemical Society and you’ll see how it works. And what’s interesting about that is, the membership fee for American Chemical Society is pretty low, so if you’re not a member, and you’re going to pay an author fee, you’re almost certainly going to become a member, because it’s so much cheaper. And that just shows what I believe to be a decision by the ACS that they want to be a membership organization, and they want to definitely reward people for membership and have more membership benefits.

KENNEALLY: Right, and I think that’s an interesting strategy, that OA becomes about much more than simply publishing. It’s about the continuing existence of the Society, which is, after all, the academics are most concerned with, the kind of propagation of their fields.

Now, what about the variation in rights that publishers are offering? They’re experimenting there in much the same way they’re experimenting with pricing.

KAUFMAN: Well, exactly, and a lot of this is being driven by – not so much the author demands, but by the funding agency demands, which of course, then drive the author demands. And as we were talking about before, the big difference seems to be, right now, most publishers seem more or less content, where, if an author fee is paid, to allow non-commercial rights by whoever comes in.

But you’ll recall, where I was talking about each journal has its own business model, and so, when you look at the institutional price, it’s not set in a vacuum. It’s – you look at it in terms of membership price, you’re looking in terms of revenue sources and the like.

So right now, what we see is, two main models of open access publishing, one where the publisher is able to retain exclusive commercial rights, and one where the publisher is not able to retain exclusive commercial rights, so the CC-BY and CC-BY-NC.

Within journals, what we’re starting to see – well, there’s certain journal, open access journals, that have always been just CC-BY. And there are other publishers who have adopted the CC-BY-NC or some variant of that, so that they can retain, let’s say, the right to sell reprints on a commercial basis.

And there’s, I’d say, experimentation both within the publisher level and at the funder level, where some funders are saying no, if a fee is paid, it should just be CC-BY, and others saying, no, it’s OK if it’s CC-BY-NC, it doesn’t really matter, and we’re OK with publishers controlling the commercial rights.

And ultimately, this is stuff is going to settle out, I don’t know where, because if you’re trying to maintain the profit and loss statement on a journal, if you have a journal where you don’t make a lot of money on reprints or on rights or things like that, then in that case, a CC-BY license might be OK. You’re not retaining commercial rights, but you’re not really exploiting your commercial rights anyway, and you’re not underwriting, let’s say, your subscription fees or your membership activities with reprint revenues.

KENNEALLY: So to you, it’s kind of a net-neutral.

KAUFMAN: Right. Right. But on the other hand, if you can’t retain your commercial rights, in that case, well, then you’re going to have to look at your whole publishing program and say, how else am I going to make up – if I am going to lose reprint revenue, how am I going to make up for it? Is there a way I can make up for it? And that could be in new services, or frankly, a subscription price, or something else.

And I think we’re going to see a lot of people looking really hard, and saying, which license should I use – which license can I use, because some funding agencies seem pretty determined to require the CC-BY license. And publishers are going to be looking back and forth and saying, well, can I afford that, can’t I afford that, what’s the appropriate price?

KENNEALLY: So really, Roy, we’ve come to the sort of crucial point of all this, which is the role of funding agencies, and the implications of their separate and sometimes very different policies about open access. Some of these, you’ve mentioned in passing. Others, you’ll want to tell us about. So compare and contrast some of these agencies and how they are approaching the subject of open access.

KAUFMAN: There’s so many variations. So, let’s just back up with, what I mean by a funding agency.

So, these are often governments or NGOs, and these are organizations that tend to give grants to fund basic research. At least, when we’re talking about open access, it’s pretty easy to think in terms of biomedical, because that’s where most of the pressure in the open access space is coming from.

So, within the biomedical field, you have organizations like the National Institutes of Health in the United States, you have the Wellcome Trust, which is an NGO in England that’s, I think, the largest, or one of the largest funders of basic research in England. You have other organizations, for example, in the United States – Howard Hughes Medical Institute. So, a funding agency is really just someone who’s funding basic research. And the funding agencies, I think as part of their mission, they want the results of the research, which they’re funding, to be widely disseminated.

So there’s this – somewhat of a distinction, and you always have to be a little bit careful when you talk about the results of the research versus articles describing the research, because, as most publishers will tell you, the results of research are data and research reports, and that the articles are something different. But I’m going to leave that political and factual and ontological debate aside, just for the moment, and say that the way the funding agencies are defining it is, if the research that they fund is completed and turns into an article which is to be published in a peer-review journal, they want that article to be broadly available. And – but within that, what does broadly available mean, and what are the requirements?

So, for example, the NIH has a policy, which is actually backed by federal law, which basically requires that NIH grantees, when their articles are published, they have 12 months from publication for the article in the accepted – so not the final version, but the version on acceptance, which may not have been fully copy-edited and the like, and paginated, that that article has to be made available in a repository called PMC with 12 months of the publication.

And boy, was that a mouthful, and I know it. So here’s what I’m going to just reduce that to, critical – 12 months from publication, not the final version, the accepted version. And the – other than that, other than its appearance in PMC, you’ll still have copyright. It could be retained by the author or the society or the publisher, whomever owns the copyright. And NIH doesn’t put a whole lot of restrictions, and say, oh, well, you know, they don’t require that reprints be allowed without payment of a copyright fee, by way of example.

On the other hand, you’ll have an organization like Wellcome Trust in the UK, and Wellcome Trust feels very strongly that when an article results from research for which they have provided some funding, the article should be made open access. I don’t think there’s any time delay. And they announced recently that CC-BY has to be used. So –

KENNEALLY: So just to make a point of that, so there are no commercial rights allowed for its use.

KAUFMAN: I think the better way to say that is, the publisher cannot – or the author, or the society, cannot retain exclusive commercial rights.


KAUFMAN: I don’t think it prevents the publisher from commercially using the article, but it also doesn’t prevent anyone else. So, the publisher could sell commercial reprints, but so can anyone else, which means you’re probably going to be paying for the reprint service but not the copyright fee.

KENNEALLY: Fair enough. And then – so, again, I mean – I think this reminds me of an old phase of mine from my days reporting in Northern Ireland. If you’re confused, you’re beginning to understand the problem, Roy. And so let’s sort of wrap this up here, as a way of a preview for a special program coming up on Wednesday, September 5th from Copyright Clearance Center about open access. And so, Roy, compliance with these various requirements from the funding agencies present different challenges for different publishers, really, depending upon their size.

KAUFMAN: Depending on their size, and again, depending on their business model, and again, when you say their business model, I think you have to look at each journal as having its own business model, because – just because Elsevier, Wiley, or Springer or anyone else has a number of journals, it doesn’t mean that each of those journals have the same business model.

KENNEALLY: Well, Roy Kaufman, thank you so much for joining us today. Roy Kaufman is Managing Director of New Ventures at Copyright Clearance Center, and we’ve been getting a special preview of a program that Copyright Clearance Center will present on Wednesday, September 5th – Open Access, key issues to consider when developing your own open access business models. It’s a webinar. It will get started at 10:00 am on Wednesday, September 5th. Roy Kaufman will be the lead guest. I’ll be there chatting about these and other issues. We look forward to having you join us then, Roy.

KAUFMAN: Thank you. I’m really looking forward to the event, Chris.

KENNEALLY: And we hope as many people listening can join us as possible. Registering is very easy. Just go to our website, a special page we have set up for all of this,

This program is produced by Copyright Clearance Center, a global rights broker for the world’s most sought-after materials, including millions of books and e-books, journals, newspapers, magazines and blogs, as well as now images, movies and television shows. You can follow Copyright Clearance Center on Twitter, like CCC on Facebook, and you can subscribe to this free podcast series on iTunes or at our website,

Our engineer is Jeremy Brieske of Burst Marketing. My name is Christopher Kenneally. For all of us at Copyright Clearance Center, thanks very much for listening.

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