Session 5: Legal

Grace Agnew, from Rutgers Universities Library, presented over 40 PPT slides on Digital Rights Management. Her book is due to be published later this year. It’s still not clear to me why we need DRM in open access repositories. Surely this conference is an opportunity to promote the benefits of Copyleft. A simple way of managing the rights to academic research, which costs nothing, is to attach a Creative Commons license to the work. It’s what software developers, with the similar GPL license have been doing for 20 years with great reward. Of course, this ignores the issue that for most academics, the IPR ultimately belongs to the University and it’s at this level that the discussion needs to be had. An academic who deposits their work in a repository and chooses to license their work under a Creative Commons license, may be forgetting that they do not own the work in the first place. In practice, academics are usually free to publish their work as they wish, but the explicit application of a Copyleft license is, unfortunately, not a guaranteed right.

Next, Brian Fitzgerald, from QUT Law School, discussed the OAK Law Project. The project looks fascinating and notably links to the Creative Commons initiative in Australia. It’s a shame that Brian didn’t talk about that and its relevance to open access repositories.

Finally, Jenny Brace, from the Version Identification Framework Project, presented the results of their project. By this point, the microphone in the auditorium had stopped working and I couldn’t hear very much, which was a shame, as it’s an important and interesting area of study, something which I’ve had to deal with ever since working in Collections Management at the NFTVA, where the correct ‘versioning’ of TV and Film materials was a constant issue. ‘Version’ means different things to different groups of people.

Open Repositories 2008 Conference

OR2008, the Third International Conference on Open Repositories began today and I’ll be posting my session notes to the LL Blog. It’s a bigger conference than I imagined. There are 486 delegates, from 35 countries, with about a third from the UK, a third from Europe, a quarter from the USA and the remaining 10% of people from Asia, Australia and New Zealand. The conference halls are packed and there is even an over-flow room where people watch the main sessions via a video feed. Not me! I get to the conference sessions early in order to get a decent seat.

The Conference website has the full programme in PDF format. True to form, there’s also a repository of conference papers and presentations.

The Keynote speaker discussed the requirements of the scientific community, arguing that open access to, the interpretation and display of scientific data is essential for these repository users. He said that the Protein Data Bank was an excellent example of such a repository. These repositories need to be embedded into the ‘white coat’ researcher’s daily work and not just places to deposit finished articles. He told us that researchers are not prepared to change the way they work and that students should be trained in good information management as they are the future of research. He pointed to several ‘open’ endeavours, such as ‘science commons‘, the ‘Open Knowledge Foundation‘, ‘open data‘ and ‘open science‘.

He reminded everyone that even the simplest of processes are complex to map, and being integral to the authoring process, trying to capture and integrate this digitally, without intruding on the work itself, is the most difficult of challenges. A worthwhile challenge, nonetheless, as 90% of scientific research data is, apparently, lost. The ICE-RS Project, is one such endeavour.

Of course, this is something businesses are also concerned with and is the stuff of Enterprise Content Management Systems (ECMS). I do wonder whether it would be a useful project to study and report on current commercial and open source ECMS solutions, as there seems to be little to no overlap between academic content management systems and repositories and those used in the corporate world.

Interestingly, he mentioned the use of Subversion as a way of backing up and versioning research, something I’m familiar with in software development but hadn’t thought about using for version control of my own work. Something to look into…