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Article Galaxy Blog

Open Access: Balancing Copyright Compliance and Savings

Posted by Scott Ahlberg on May 6, 2016

Open Access has been a hot topic for years, and it looks like it will stay that way for years to come.  A growing percentage of the articles that Reprints Desk delivers to customers via our Article Galaxy™ platform are Open Access, reflecting the apparent overall growth in Open Access publishing. 

It might surprise some people that we deliver so many Open Access articles.  But some reflection will reveal that there are important reasons for this.

First, it often isn’t easy for our customers to know that the article they are interested in is an Open Access article.  This may happen because our customer’s preferred discovery service does not clearly indicate that an article is Open Access, especially if the article is published in a Hybrid Open Access title.  Or it may be the case that there are two access points for an article: one behind a paywall on the publisher’s website, and the other on one of the many authorized institutional repositories.

The fact that there may be more than one version (the official Version of Record and the Author Version) of an article, presents a minor conundrum for some of our customers.  Many customers are interested in taking advantage of any legitimate opportunity to save money, and will therefore want the free version of the article if one is available.  However, differences between a free version hosted on an authorized OA repository, and the paid or final version behind a paywall on the journal website occur.  Frequently, terms and conditions associated with that free version conflict with the customer’s planned use of the article. 

That’s why it has been our standard practice to deliver a linkout to the free version if a customer utilizes our Open Access Filter service. This gives the customer the chance to evaluate the article’s content and the terms and conditions of its use.  Should the customer need to acquire the PDF of the article, either to ensure that they are using the publisher’s official or final version of the PDF, or because they have read the rightsholders terms and conditions and have determined that they can only ensure compliance with a paid version, then our fulfillment process offers a very user-friendly option to convert that free linkout to a paid PDF delivery.

The service may enable a customer to maximize their savings from Open Access, but it isn’t appropriate for everyone.  It puts the user in the position of evaluating terms and conditions, which is a responsibility not everyone is prepared to accept.  Certain article uses mandate the final official PDF (regulatory use is a prime example). 

For such customers we have developed a new version of Article Galaxy's Open Access filter utilizing a careful methodology for ensuring compliance with the rightsholders terms and conditions, whether it be CC-BY, CC-BY-NC, or one of the many other variations of Open Access.  In some circumstances, royalties are paid, which is appropriate for many of Reprints Desk’s commercial enterprise customers.

We’ve developed this new version following countless discussions with publishers of Gold and Green Open Access journals, and reviews of their terms and conditions against the types of article uses commercial enterprises typically have for peer reviewed articles.  This process has enabled the creation of a proprietary database which we use in the fulfillment process for our document delivery customers. 

We are authorized directly by publishers for most of the content we deliver, and it is those relationships which enable us to compile this data and provide such services. By all appearances the quantity of OA content will continue to grow, as will the complexity of the landscape.  We consider it part of our mission to help our customers find and utilize that content, with the mix of cost savings and copyright compliance which is right for them.

So if you’re a Reprints Desk customer, we encourage you to reach out to us to discuss this important topic and to learn more about how we can help. And if you’re using another service today, then this may be an area to “dig into the weeds” and understand just exactly how your current supplier is equipped to help.

Topics: open access, copyright compliance, copyright, savings

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