Author advocate champions OA licensing


Mike Wolfe: Executive Director  – Authors Alliance & Copyright Research Fellow – Berkley Centre for Law & Technology

Recently the Queensland University of Technology Library and Office of Research Ethics and Integrity ran targeted workshops on Authorship and Publication for authors and researchers.

The two half-day sessions comprised a step-by-step guide to getting your research published, from shortlisting journals to responding to peer review.

One of the highlights of the event was a workshop from US copyright attorney and executive director of the Authors Alliance Mike Wolfe.

Mr Wolfe is a vocal advocate for the retention of copyright to authors and urged all writers to protect their right to be named as the author of their work.

He said Open Access is increasingly becoming a more widely accepted practice in publishing and ensuring your work is available Open Access will ensure its longevity in the public realm.

“When publishers hold all rights to a work we have to question how long it will ultimately be made available and sadly, for better for worse most copyrighted works have a relatively short commercial life empirically, selling for a few years or less.

“There are a number of things that authors can do about this. Part of it is just negotiating their contracts in a smart and interesting way, taking advantage of institutional resources that can help make sure that your work is available regardless of what happens to its commercial life. The other is to have it widely available from the beginning so this is open access publishing.” he said.

Mr Wolfe raised the following questions for authors to ask in relation to accessibility:

  • If you have concerns about the short term availability of your work?
  • Who can read it today?
  • How can I get it to the most readers fastest?
  • And the long term availability, of whether it will remain accessible?
  • Available in print?
  • Is it still commercially viable?

He said Open Access solves these questions by removing the commercial liability aspect of the equation.

Mr Wolfe also provided workshop participants with insightful advice about entering into publishing contracts, and protecting authors’ rights to use their own content.

He outlined three rules for approaching a publishing contract:

  1. Read the contract
  2. Negotiate
  3. Keep a copy

He acknowledged that researchers and authors can be so thrilled to be offered a contract,  they often forget the basics necessary to protect them and their work.  He said the three rules above are “extremely easy not to do.”

“As an author what you should ask, as a writer, as an owner of copyright, when you are signing them away in the course of a publishing contact it’s important to understand who is able to read your work, where around the world and on what terms.  And ultimately how long it will remain accessible.

“Open Access publishing resolves both long and short term availability for creators, ” he said.

The Authors Alliance has produced the following handbooks which can be downloaded for free.

Understanding Open Access

Understanding Rights Reversion