On Wednesday, April 16, the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) brought their Scholarly Communication Road Show to Ames at the Reiman Gardens on the Iowa State University campus. Colleges and universities from all over the Midwest sent representatives to have a discussion about scholarly communication and copyright in our age of information and technology. The whole Digital Repository unit was able to attend and engage in what was an informative and collaborative gathering.
The morning session was built around the subject of scholarly communication in the digital age. Much of the discussion concerned the philosophy of open access in publishing and self-archiving. The open and free access of materials can be granted in many ways, by fiat of funding agencies such as the U.S. National Institute of Health and the National Science Foundation, or by license. The most frequently-used licenses are the Creative Commons licenses which permit the sharing of scholarship with options available for different types of sharing. Barriers to open access often involve copyrights that have restricted use beyond fair use. Following the discussion, we participated in what was called a World Café. The organizers divided the subjects of discussion into smaller groups which toured the conference room and offered ideas for further discussion afterward.
Following lunch, which was spent by many of us wandering the Reiman Gardens outside, in the Conservatory displaying orchids, and strolling through the Butterfly Garden, the conference resumed with the subject of copyright. Much of scholarly communication hinges on copyright and the end-user’s understanding and interpretation of copyright, the history of copyright law, and public domain. For the academic to present a work in a peer-reviewed publication, the publisher in return for the expense and care of the article or item will stipulate specific transfers of rights. Conference attendees studied three publisher agreements to determine the rights transferred from author to publisher, what would be favorable or unfavorable to the author, and what would be considered standard.
In the Iowa State University Digital Repository, we are always aware and concerned with copyright. Our job is help our faculty, our graduate students, our institution to share research and disseminate ideas that continue the expansion, the explosion of knowledge in this world. The Information Age and the internet have made this sharing so easy, but the protections granted to copyright holders are often in doubt and confusion as new technologies arise and new modes of dissemination become available. Copyright agreements and laws have to address future modes that may not even have been imagined now but those same, inherent rights must still be acknowledged. The ACRL Roadshow gave us insight into our responsibility in publishing and archiving our institution’s contributions to learning.