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Media Science

Creative Commons For Science 113

chrisspurgeon writes "The folks at Creative Commons are rolling out a new project aimed at improving the dissemination of scientific publications and data. The National Institutes of Health is already proposing mandated Open Access to all NIH-funded research, and many scientists welcome the free redistribution of their papers, they just don't know the legal details of how to do it. The Science Commons project will take on the copyright problems unique to scientists (things like pre and post prints, and electronic vs. paper journal distribution)."
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Creative Commons For Science

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  • Great (Score:2, Funny)

    now he [] can get his stuff copyrighted too!
    • Re:Great (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Naikrovek ( 667 ) <jjohnson.psg@com> on Wednesday December 29, 2004 @01:10PM (#11210228)
      copyrights are granted by default. For example, this post is copyright(c) 2004, Naikrovek [], and I don't need to say that to get copyright.

      If I were making this post or publishing work that I'd done for some government or company, then the copyright goes to that government or company, because that published work was written by an extension of the government or company (me) and is thier property.

      If that guy invented CDs and DVDs (or the technology behind them) did so as part of his job, he will get nothing. Gallileo got nothing but prison time for his discoveries. Archimedes got nothing for his discoveries. Not fair, but a reality.

      • If I were making this post or publishing work that I'd done for some government or company, then the copyright goes to that government or company, because that published work was written by an extension of the government or company (me) and is thier property.

        You are correct. The phrase you're looking for is "work for hire". Work prepared by an employee that falls within the scope of their employment is owned by their employer (all rights reserved).

      • Re:Great (Score:3, Interesting)

        by stanwirth ( 621074 )

        True, but the situation could become a little bit more muddled when -- while you may be an employee of a university, but the funding (which you wrote the proposal for) comes from a government agency.

        Some government agencies require that all work done with their funding pass into the public domain, and yet the University typically tries to claim copyright (and patent rights) over the publications and inventions produced, at the same time.

        Yet -- your grant is already paying the University for the "p

        • Some government agencies require that all work done with their funding pass into the public domain

          Not the US federal government (including all NIH grants). The Bayh-Dole Act [] gives the copyright and patents rights to the grantee or contractor and retains only limited rights to the government and taxpayers. You certainly wouldn't be alone if you don't like this, but it is the law. The law was passed (in 1980) because of a perception that federally funded research was just sitting in labs and not actually be

  • Go Larry (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cloudspot ( 837893 ) on Wednesday December 29, 2004 @12:18PM (#11209645) Homepage
    The battle for accessible culture is important, but the battle for accessible science is more important (IMO).

    Keep up the good work!
    • by Anonymous Coward
      If the government funds your research, you should not be able to patent it and must make it, your source data, your computer programs, and your source code publically available for free.

      That data, source code must be public domain or at least a BSD style license. This follows the federal government in that its publications are public domain.

      Additionally, a financial statement of how you spent your taxpayer funded research money should be available for free, and be published on the internet.

      In other word
      • One of the difficulties with the 'no profit from grants' rule is the difficulty in determining whether the research from which you are trying to profit was a direct result of the grant or not. If I have multiple grants for my cancer research lab then some might be from the government and some might be from other sources. In reality, it's still the same group of graduate students who slave away in the lab. If they invent something with profit potential then I could just claim that that particular inventio
    • The lanl base X-archive has been central repository for scientist to publish their work for years.

      sorry, its not porn. don't know why they chose xxx

  • past discussions (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LegendOfLink ( 574790 ) on Wednesday December 29, 2004 @12:23PM (#11209702) Homepage
    With all the discussions in previous years regarding the government trying to decide what scientists can and cannot post in journals, I am hoping this can further put the government at a distance and allow free information to remain, well, free.
    • The government can still mandate what is restricted and cant be released.. They can declare anything they want as 'not subtable for public knowledge due to national security reasons'

      Whatever is left over is free game for this good idea...
  • It can good for education and learning, for home educators and schools.
  • by jacobcaz ( 91509 ) on Wednesday December 29, 2004 @12:27PM (#11209734) Homepage
    Do you think Eli Lilly will allow its scientists to publish under this creative commons license? Of course not, because then everyone could (potentially) have access to the next Prozac.

    I think this is excellent, but only academic and possibly government funded research will use this. The pharmaceutical and bio-tech companies will continue to do their own thing and make billions.

    • by bhima ( 46039 ) <Bhima,Pandava&gmail,com> on Wednesday December 29, 2004 @12:34PM (#11209814) Journal
      Yes, we will. Truthfully some of our work is government funded but it's already well partitioned to begin with. I don't see how any of this can be a bad thing for either big pharma or the creative commons, science edition.
    • Good. They spend billions. I don't want to bite the hand that cures me. If they make my life better then I am more than willing to hand money over to them.
    • If Eli Lilly (or any other for-profit research sponsor) allows its scientists to publish, it will do so because it anticipates a benefit from doing so. The benefit might be publicity, or goodwill, or simply making it easier to attract and retain highly competent scientists.

      Those of us in academia also publish in the expectation of a benefit from doing so. Whether we do so for altruistic reasons, or for tenure, or in hopes of attracting the attention of the MacArthur Foundation, doesn't matter -- we publ
    • only academic and possibly government funded research will use this.

      Since I'm not a scientist I may be talking out my ass here, but I've always had the notion that government and academic research is the larger part of the research done in the US.

      The pharmaceutical and bio-tech companies will continue to do their own thing and make billions.

      As they should. I dislike greedy and parasitic companies that have their lawyers lay exclusive claim to anything they can get their mitts on, but I don't see h

    • Do you think Eli Lilly will allow its scientists to publish under this creative commons license

      Exactly! Before this happens, IBM will start shipping the Apache web server and Sun will release the Solaris source code!

      Big corporations will never see the benefit to letting other eyes look over source code or bio research!

      Oh, wait...

    • I think most of the research gets published anyhow as part of various governmental approval processes. Certainly anything patented gets published. Really, this initiative is more about republication rights and increasing access to published material than about getting it published in the first place.

      See your HTTP headers here []
  • by squidfood ( 149212 ) on Wednesday December 29, 2004 @12:27PM (#11209739)

    I'm a US government scientist, just found out that journals must have two types of copyright agreements, don't know if this is universal:

    1. For most people, all rights go to [journal].

    2. If more than X co-authors are US. government employees, the work must be Public Domain.

    I believe this is forced on the journals as the price of accepting work from government scientists. This, is a Good Thing the government is doing (for once) over publishing industry. Don't know if this is universal across agencies, journals, sorry if the above paraphrase is impeferfect (legalese isn't in front of me right now).

    • Legalese aside, here's a random example of a publishing policy description from American Meteorlogical Society []

      "It should be pointed out that when an article is declared a "work of the U.S. Government" it is not simply that the copyright cannot be transferred to the AMS, but rather, that the work is declared public domain and no copyright protection exists for it at all. Despite numerous articles published each year in AMS journals that have been declared U.S. Government works by the authors, the AMS att

    • This is a steady progression toward using the "publisher pays" model of scientific publication. The Public Library of Science has been doing it for a while now
      • Re:PLOS (Score:2, Informative)

        I think you meant "author pays" (although commonly publication costs are paid from the grant that funds the research, or from the authors' institution(s)).

        For years, journals have imposed "page charges" to defray part of the publication costs; PLOS and others recover essentially all of the costs from their authors (but since most or all of their distribution is electronic, their costs are lower than for traditional print journals). Their authors' fees are higher than typical "page charges" since they hav
        • Indeed. Or authors...

          Q. How many PhDs does it take to change a light bulb?
          A. 4. One to screw in the bulb, and 3 to co-author the paper.
    • AFAIK this is universal. Similar rules apply in the UK, where Crown copyright is retained in publications from publicly funded research.
    • I just assisted in the submission of a paper to J Cell Biol today (in fact, am still working on it -- preparing some stuff that needs to be sent via fedex/USPS) and here's the copyright assignment form the lab PI had to sign:

      There are apparently special terms for government employees (see the huge box with special info in it?) but as we're at a private university, that doesn't directly apply to us even though we are mostly funded by a federal agency (NIH).
  • But how will all those poor Scientific journals continue to make money off of publically funded research?

    (yes - the answer is that they'll be publishing the highest quality research results and providing a service to their readers by sifting throught the garbage, but still, how long will it take for to come along?)
    • Another answer is near the end of the article - a proposed six month delay between release of research findings and addition to the public database. That gives the mags a good 6 months to get stuff to print before everyone can view it for free.

      You also have to take into account the fact that a lot of people still like reading magazines instead of reading computer monitors. How else could newspapers stay in business when most of the news comes off the public news feeds that are available for free off the
      • It's not just that people enjoy printed material, there's a trust factor.

        I'd trust a trade magazine or reputable scientific journal before I'd trust something I saw on the 'web. For the same reason I'd trust Encyclopedia Britannica over Wikipedia.
    • Academic institutions, recognizing their value, will keep their subscriptions even though they aren't actually necessary for access to the articles. For that matter, NIH could give grants to respected journals for finding good articles. I bet, in fact, that academic institutions would agree to keep their subscriptions as a prerequisite to being able to submit articles regularly (which is to say that the journal may publish submissions from non-subscibers if they seem likely to support the journal's reputati
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Actually, many of us in Basic science research are highly concerned by this. There are some specialized journals that will probably go out of print (e.g. Journal of Comparative Neurology) because if the articles published therein are made free (no subscription needed, or allowed), they can't cover their publishing costs. The proposal to cover costs in the absence of maintaing current subscription levels is to pass the costs along to the authors - most estimates fall around $5000 USD per article. Most sci
    • --- But how will all those poor Scientific journals continue to make money off of publically funded research?---

      And then how will every scientific society that is funded by journal profits continue to exist and do positive things for their community?
      • PLoS (Public Library of Science) does it by a system of "author pays" in which most or all of the cost is borne by the submitter. Normally, this is rolled into the grant under which the work is done, but I believe special arrangements can be made for authors whose grants and/or institutions won't cover page charges.
        • Your response does not answer my question. There are many, many scientific societies that do very important work for their respective communities (putting on meetings, funding scholarships, etc). Many of these societies fund their activities through the publication of a journal. If you put together a system whereby profits can not be made from scientific journals, these societies will cease to exist. A big publishing conglomerate like Elsevier will weather the storm, but scientific societies will disappe
          • It does answer the question -- for now -- but as you say, it will be interesting to see what happens to PLoS and other similar ventures. Will people willingly donate via Paypal or other systems? Will such donations be restricted to just scientists or will the general public take an interest?

            There may not be a completely satisfying answer to the question because the answer changes all the time, and what works today may not work next week. But I hope the open-access ventures can be sustained somehow over the
            • How does a money losing strategy by the PLOS to fund their journals result in money being raised to fund unrelated scientific societies?
              • If enough people support the idea of PLoS, they might donate. I never said it was unrelated. It could happen -- people donate to all sorts of things to make them work.
                • I don't know if your doing scientific research at the moment, but money is extremely tight in this age, and with the current administration. Hoping for donations of 10's if not 100's of thousands of dollars from cash strapped scientists is wishful thinking at best.
                  • Perhaps. But, and I think this may be the source of the misunderstanding here, my hope is that sites like PLoS can get the public to be aware of their existence and place Paypal donation buttons on their home pages and get help from the public at large, not just the scientific community.
                    • It's a nice thought, but I have a hard time believing that the general public is going to spend a lot of time reading high level journal articles that are often difficult to comprehend for those actively working in the field. There's a reason why the average person doesn't subscribe to the Journal of Neuroscience, other than a lack of interest, it's that scientific papers are really hard to read for non-scientists. You also have to remember that many of these societies serve smaller scientific communities
                    • That's the inherent problem: how do you convince the public that these things are actually benefiting them and that they should donate? I don't know the answer, and I can tell you don't either. But I do think that at least some people would -- mostly geeks, at least at first, and science types. The problem is that a lot of people don't understand the benefits of this stuff, largely because they don't "get it".
                    • I agree with what you're saying, but science journals are not the right place for public outreach. Journals are for communication between scientists, for the review and publication of results, not for helping the public to understand.
                    • That's why I'd suggested the front page of organizations' websites. I agree -- it shouldn't go in the journal itself.
    • It is already the case in the legal field. The law is public domain, but you pay large sums of money for legal journals and databases that pick out the relevant stuff.
  • BBC Radio 4 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JaxWeb ( 715417 ) on Wednesday December 29, 2004 @12:33PM (#11209802) Homepage Journal
    BBC Radio 4 did a radio program about the publish problems in Science, especially Physics, recently. I thought it was very good.

    You can listen to it online [] from the BBC website. It requires Real Player, however.
  • I thought I was a badass with two... Now I must make a 10 dvr computer!! MUAHAHAHAHA!!!! *burp*
  • by Cally ( 10873 ) on Wednesday December 29, 2004 @01:09PM (#11210216) Homepage
    The BBC came through yet again with an excellent documentary on the free journal publishing movement - info here ned.shtml []. Hit the 'science' link on the left-hand-side navbar for details of the amazing breadth and depth of science coverage on Radio 4. (To b fair Radio 4 has far better coverage of anything factual than any of the other four main radio stations or main two TV channels. though BBC 3 and BBC 4 TV occaisionally have something good and BBC2's long-running Horizon series is still getting interviews with real, working scientists as well as 'science journalists',even tho' it has tended to get a bit sensationalist of late.

    To listen to the programme am [] 'Listen Again' service will happily send a RealAudio stream of the programme which mplayer --dump-stream will happily rip for you. (The Beeb say they can only offer streaming media because their rights agreements don't cover other formats :/ ) No, I'm not connected with Aunty Beeb in any way, I'm just a Radio 4 junkie :)

  • Good thing! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Quixote ( 154172 ) on Wednesday December 29, 2004 @01:12PM (#11210241) Homepage Journal
    The National Institutes of Health is already proposing mandated Open Access to all NIH-funded research

    This is a very good thing. If my tax dollars are going to support the research, I hope it benefits as many people as possible (instead of just the big PHaRMA [] ).

    I had heard that the Pharma people have a way around this. They will co-sponsor research with NIH, and when it comes time to publish, claim that all of the good stuff came from their share of the funding (and hence claim it as their IP). I don't know how true this is, but that's what I've heard.

    I have been on the lookout for quality (human) Microarray data for doing predictive data mining with some exciting new techniques, but can't find too many such sets around. Looking at the revenues of Affymetrix (for instance), one would think there would be oodles of data out there; but this is not the case. Yes, I am aware of the SMD, etc.

  • by ponos ( 122721 ) on Wednesday December 29, 2004 @01:34PM (#11210467)

    This is the idea of "free" as in speech, people. And this is why the free software paradigm is more important than just getting stuff done and providing low-cost solutions. Bio-research is extremely heavily encumbered with patents and costs. I'm extremely happy to see several initiatives (see for example the BIOS initiative and the open access initiative) slowly gain momentum.

    Hell, we had to pay to get an article published (quite common) and then pay another 30$ to get a copy of the journal issue (and, no, there is not such thing as free internet access for high-profile journals) to read our own article.

    I really want publishers and research companies to make money, but public funded research must be free for all. This is humanity's intellectual property, not the coca-cola recipe!


  • Just to clarify.. (Score:3, Informative)

    by sleighb0y ( 141660 ) on Wednesday December 29, 2004 @01:48PM (#11210624) Homepage
    So many of you seem to be saying "Grants don't allow companies sell the technology" or "A business should not profit from public money".

    But let me share something with you..

    There is a program called SBIR (Small Business Inovation Research). In which small businesses ( under 500 employees) can submit for grants for very (typically) very specific "problems" the various federal agencies want to have solved. With an end result being commercialization of your product/technology.

    It goes like this..
    1. Feds put out a list of solicitations
    2. You submit a paper describing your idea and how commercially viable it is
    3. You may or may not get "Phase I" funding for research.

    4. Now, if you did well in Phase I you can submit for "Phase II" funding. Which gives you more money. This step is primarily to help get your product into the market. So you better have a good set of sales numbers ready.

    Sometimes the "product" is something that the Feds will want to buy from you (e.g. NASA, US Army, etc..) and other times it will have civilian application. So if you want it to have civilian application, you can work on that too with the grant money.

    And in regards to IP, you retain exclusive rights to ALL work you have done. And the US Govt. also has right to the technology, but not to sell it, just to use/improve/rework it.

    This is not free money, you do need other sources of capital in order to progress in the funding. They aren't giving out free money without you doing some work and showing you can generate outside interest.

    The point of the program is to grow the US economy and also to provide the US Govt. with R&D for technology it finds it has a need for.

    There are many details that I have just glossed over. But you can find out more here [].

    There is a national conference twice a year to learn more about the program. You can find out about that by going here [].

    It has a sister-program called STTR which allows you to work with a university and use their labs and staff. You can learn about both at the conference, I find them quite informative.
    • Nice propaganda. Now let me tell you the thing you either don't know, or omitted:

      Some company/researcher uses his connections into the military-industrial complex to convince some SBIR flunky to put the ideas from the company/researcher into whatever RFP applies to them. The RFP is printed, the company/researcher "applies" to it, and whaddaya know ... they "win" the contract.

      After helping apply for 2 SBIRs in the materials field, I came to understand that too many SBIRs are like that. To put it sim
      • Have you ever attended an SBIR conference?

        The feds and previous SBIR awardees so much as tell everyone that, not in the way you say it though. You make it sound as though it is a conspiracy to give away public money to the "friends" of the govt.

        It is stated plainly that you should seek assitance from other federal agencies or businesses when wording your RFP.

        And they do have some blanket solicitations that can get your project in the door and perhaps it will be considered for a future solicitation.

        The i
        • But nobody says it is easy money, you have to work for it.

          When you write the words for the RFP that you will "apply" for, I strongly contest your definition of "work for it". Setting up the conditions for the test, that you yourself will undergo, is called "rigging the game". I'm sure that in today's crony-capitalism environment, you probably don't even understand what the hell I'm saying here.

          As for conferences ... yes, once the company founder started playing the game of "rigging the game", we o
  • This has come up before on Slashdot: cid=7217869 []

    On the Deep Disanalogy

    Between Text and Software and
    Between Text and Data
    Insofar as Free/Open Access is Concerned

    A CC License is always desirable and welcome, but it is unnecessary for the self-archiving of authors' own peer-reviewed journal articles. With 93% of journals having already given their authors the green light to self-archive []
    what is needed is th

  • Here are some links for those who want more background and detail on the open access movement:

    Open Access Overview []
    (my introduction to OA for those who are new to the concept)

    Open Access News blog []
    (my blog, updated daily)

    SPARC Open Access Newsletter ive.htm []
    (my newsletter, published monthly)

    FAQ on the NIH public-access policy []
  • no more of paying $$$ to journals for reading the latest in science. with scientists publishing their work on their sites, it would be easiest to access the latest without burning a hole in my pocket...
  • In astronomy, anyone can just go to [] and have access to the major journals. It's searchable, has journals online, etc.

    It's so handy, I tend to use it instead of hunting up the paper copies in my 'box of printouts'. Yes, it's actually faster/easier to find something I've already read by getting it online, than to hunt in a file cabinet.

    And they have excellent search, reference chasing (you can find all papers that cite a given paper, or simply see all references a paper uses), and even

"It's my cookie file and if I come up with something that's lame and I like it, it goes in." -- karl (Karl Lehenbauer)