Fair Use Week Recap

Librarian Greg McKinney talks to a student about fair use during Fair Use Week. Photo courtesy of Steven Bell.

Last week was Fair Use Week, a five-day celebration of the fair use doctrine. Libraries across the United States and Canada held events to raise awareness about the important role fair use plays in the lives in students and scholars. Here at Temple, we organized several events.

We kicked the week off with a fair use quiz. Students who passed by the first floor of Paley Library last Monday were asked to test their knowledge of fair use by looking at four well-known court cases and deciding whether or not the use in question was fair. All students who took the quiz were entered to win a $25 Barnes & Noble gift card. In the end, 47 students took the quiz. Overall, our students did an excellent job distinguishing between fair and infringing use.

On Tuesday, we held an event for our library staff. We watched the ACRL webinar, “Using Fair Use to Preserve and Share Disappearing Government Information: A Guide for Rogue Librarians.” This webinar was particularly timely for us, as a number of our librarians are involved with the Data Refuge Project which was started at the University of Pennsylvania. Despite the webinar’s title, the librarians who are working to preserve government information are not “going rogue,” as this action clearly falls within the bounds of fair use.

On Wednesday, Resident Librarian Anastasia Chui led a workshop on copyright and fair use for undergraduates. This Jeopardy-style workshop asked participants a series of questions about different fair use situations they might encounter.

Finally, we interviewed Nikki Miller, Rights and Contracts Coordinator at Temple University Press, about “Fair Use from a Scholarly Publisher’s Perspective,” for this blog.

It was a great week and we look forward to participating again next year.

Are you interested in learning more about fair use? Check out the following resources:

Fair Use Week Evaluator Tool

Thinking Through Fair Use (University of Minnesota)

The Fair Use App

Stanford Copyright and Fair Use

Copyright for Educators

New Digital Publishing Platforms Scholars Need to Know About


UPDATE: The Manifold platform has now launched.

Are you in the process of writing a book or journal article? Have you been thinking about how you might present some or all of your research digitally? Over the past ten years, university presses, libraries, and others in higher education have started building the infrastructure necessary to support the creation of high-quality, peer-reviewed digital work. The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has provided the start-up funds for many of these projects. One of the first digital publishing platforms that the Mellon Foundation funded was Scalar, which was developed at the University of Southern California on behalf of the Alliance for Networking Visual Culture. Scalar is currently being used by a number of different publishers, including the University of California Press and Duke University Press, to publish both born-digital scholarship and digital companions to print monographs. Scholars can also use Scalar to self-publish their work. Recently, the Mellon Foundation has funded other exciting efforts in this area. All share a common belief that scholars and publishers need to think beyond the traditional print monograph. Here are four new projects, all currently in development, worth watching:

Vega is a digital publishing platform being developed under the direction of West Virginia University for books, journals, projects, data sets, and other scholarly output. The Vega team is particularly interested in streamlining the production and editorial process for publishers. Unlike some existing platforms (such as Open Journal Systems), Vega will be completely customizable. Look for it to launch in 2018.

Editoria is a digital-first book production platform being developed by the California Digital Library, the University of California Press and the Collaborative Knowledge Foundation. Like Vega, it is designed to simplify the publishing workflow process in order to help lower production costs. A beta version of Editoria is planned for release in late 2016/early 2017.

Fulcrum is a digital publishing platform being developed by the University of Michigan Library and Press. Fulcrum will make it easier for authors who want to link their source material to their scholarship. The resulting digital piece can be published as a supplement to a print book, or can even take the place of a print book. One of Fulcrum’s early adopters will be Lever Press, a new press run by a group of leading liberal arts colleges that plans to publish open access, digitally native scholarly monographs.

Manifold Scholarship is a digital book production platform being developed by the University of Minnesota Press and the GC Digital Scholarship Lab at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Similar to Scalar, Manifold aims to help authors create media-rich scholarship that is nonlinear and allows for reader feedback. Although the Manifold platform is not yet live, the University of Minnesota Press has begun considering potential book projects.


Google Books and Fair Use


“Google Scanning @ AAEL” by Dave Carter is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

The big news in scholarly communication last week came from the Supreme Court, which declined to hear an appeal from the Authors Guild over Google Books. The Supreme Court’s decision puts an end to a legal battle that has been going on since 2005. This is great news for scholars, students, and the public, all of whom have come to rely on Google Books for their research. But the case is also significant because it reaffirms the doctrine of fair use. Fair use is an established part of U.S. copyright law, however, it’s not always clear what does or does not constitute fair use. Generally, courts rely on four factors to determine fair use: the purpose and character of the use, the nature of the copyrighted work, the amount and substantiality of the portion used, and the effect of the use upon the potential market for of value of the copyrighted work. The Authors Guild tried to argue that Google’s actions are not protected under fair use, because Google is a for-profit company (as opposed to an educational institution), and because Google is scanning entire books (not just parts of books). However, the courts ultimately ruled that Google has to copy books in their entirely for the project to be useful. In addition, they ruled that Google’s use of the texts is transformative (another key indicator for fair use).

Google’s book scanning project began back in 2004. The company partnered with several major libraries, including Stanford University, the University of Michigan, the University of California, Harvard, Oxford University, Columbia University, Princeton University, and the New York Public Library. The libraries selected books from their collections (focusing primarily on books published before 1923), and then Google did the digitization work for free. Google did not ask permission from any authors before they started scanning the library books. In order to obtain new and recently published books, Google also signed contracts with publishers which allowed them to scan and show parts of in-copyright books. All books (whether from libraries or publishers) are made available through Google’s search engine, which enables users to look for a particular word or phrase across texts. For most books that are still under copyright, however, users can only see a “snippet” of text based on their search term.

In 2005, a group of publishers, along with the Authors Guild and several individual authors, sued Google for copyright infringement. Both publishers and authors worried that they would not be properly compensated for the use of their content. They also worried that hackers would be able to get digital copies of the books and share them widely. In the years that followed, these groups tried to work out a compromise with Google. But in 2011, a federal judge rejected a proposed settlement. Then, in 2013, a district court ruled that Google’s treatment of the books was transformative and that its actions constituted fair use. The Authors Guild then appealed this decision. In 2015, a Second Circuit Court of Appeals agreed that Google Books was legal. The appeal to the Supreme Court was the Authors Guild’s last chance.

According to one source, Google has now scanned around 30 million volumes. In addition, they currently have over 40 Library Partners. Although the scans are not always perfect, Google Books remains a rich, free resource for people around the world. It is just another example of why fair use is so important.

All About ORCID


One of the problems many researchers face is that they have the same name as another scholar working in a similar field. In addition, a researcher’s name might change over the course of their career, or they may use different variations of their name (such as a nickname or middle initial) depending on where they publish. So, given these challenges, how can you make sure that you are being properly recognized for all of your scholarship?

Launched in 2012, ORCID (“Open Researcher and Contributor ID”) is a global non-profit organization the provides researchers with free unique persistent identifiers (basically, 16-digit numbers). These identifiers are stored in a central registry, so that others can find you and your work. While there are a number of different types of author identifiers out there, including ResearchID (from Web of Science) and SCOPUS Author ID, ORCID is quickly becoming the standard, in large part because it is not tied to a particular publisher or platform. Instead, ORCID is an open, community-driven organization. To date, over two million researchers have registered for ORCID identifiers.

More and more journals, publishers, and funding agencies are collecting ORCID identifiers from researchers. In fact, in a recent letter, several major journals and publishers, including The Royal Society, PLOS, and Science, explained that they will now require all researchers who publish with them to have an ORCID identifier.

Creating an ORCID identifier is easy: simply use your e-mail address to register, then add as much or as little information as you want. Adding your scholarship is a good first step. You can add work manually, import your citations from a BibTeX (.bib) file, or search ORCID’s many data sources to find and link your work. One of the great things about ORCID is that it supports 37 different kinds of scholarly output, including books and articles, but also inventions, conference posters, data sets, and even artistic performances. You don’t have to be a scientist to use and benefit from ORCID. Your profile can also include information about your education, funding, and employment history. Although profiles are public, you control who can see what in your profile. You have three choices: make your information publicly available, share it with trusted sources (such as your library), or keep it private. It’s up to you. Once you have an ORCID identifier, you can use it when submitting journal articles and grant applications. You can also display your identifier on your personal or departmental website. You can even buy custom ORCID mugs and stickers!

It is important to note that ORCID does not try to verify the information researchers provide. Basically, they depend on researchers to be honest about their scholarship.

Have you signed up for an ORCID identifier? How do you use it?

Paying for Peer Review?


“Peer Review” by AJCann is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

A recent article in Times Higher Education reports that a new British publisher, Veruscript, plans to pay authors for their peer review work. Although paying for peer review is not a new idea, it is only recently that scholarly journals have begun to experiment with the practice.

Perhaps the most prominent mega-journal that pays for peer review is Collabra, which is published open access by the University of California Press. Launched in 2015, Collabra publishes scholarship on life and biomedical sciences, ecology and environmental sciences, and social and behavioral sciences. To cover the costs of making articles freely available, Collabra charges authors an article processing charge (or APC) of $875. Collabra then takes a portion of that money ($250) and places it in a fund to pay editors and reviewers. Reviewers are offered money no matter whether they accept or reject a manuscript. Reviewers can choose to take the money outright, donate it to the Collabra APC waiver fund, or donate it to their own intitution’s open access publishing fund. The amount is low enough that scholars are not motivated to review just because of the money, yet it’s a small way to reward the academic labor that goes into reviewing articles.

Still, the practice of paying for peer review remains controversial within the academy. Many academics feel that peer review is a community service that should not be monetized. Serving as a peer reviewer, they argue, is simply part of one’s job as a scholar. Others point out that there are ways to reward peer reviewers without actually paying them. The Molecular Ecologist, for example, publishes a yearly list of its best reviewers. The open access mega-journal PeerJ offers another kind of incentive for peer reviewers. Under their economic model, individuals pay a flat fee for membership. Membership allows authors to submit papers and preprints. However, in order for authors to keep their membership from lapsing, they must submit one “review” a year. This can be an informal review, such as a comment on an article, or a formally requested peer review (which is by invitation only). Finally, the for-profit company Publons showcases the work of peer reviewers by making it possible for scholars to create Publons-verified profiles in which they list all the journals they have reviewed for. Publons claims that their model will help scholars get credit for what is usually invisible work, as well as give them another way to demonstrate their subject expertise.

What do you think? Should reviewers be compensated for their work?

How Much Does it Cost to Produce a Scholarly Monograph?


“Cambridge University Press” by Lezan is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

University presses have long played a crucial role in disseminating scholarship. Over time, however, sales of scholarly monographs have declined, while the cost of producing them has not. This has led to what many people refer to as a “crisis” in scholarly publishing.

While this “crisis” has been around for decades, only now, thanks in large part to the digital revolution, are we seeing university presses start to experiment with new business models. The University of California Press, for example, recently launched an imprint called Luminos where authors, rather than readers, help the press cover their costs. For authors who publish with Luminos, the UC Press charges a baseline fee of $15,000. UC Press and its library partners absorb some of that cost, but the author is expected to pay between $5,000 and $7,500. The thought is that the author will not necessarily pay this money out of pocket, but that they will be able to find financial support from their department, provost, or library. Indeed, over 50 university libraries in the United States now have some kind of Open Access Publishing Fund, which is designed to support authors publishing open access articles or books. A Luminos book goes through the same editorial process (including peer review), that all other UC Press books go through. Unlike a traditional monograph, however, once published, the Luminos book is made available open access, so that anyone can read or download a copy for free. A print version is also available for sale (which helps UC Press recoup more of its costs).

It is important to point out that although UC Press has set $15,000 as their fee, this does not mean that $15,000 is the full cost of publishing a book. The actual cost could be higher or lower. One difficulty presses are facing when it comes to changing their business models is that it’s hard to say just how much it costs to produce a scholarly monograph.

Recently, the research group Ithaka S+R tried to find out. They interviewed 20 university presses from across the United States. These presses ranged in size from small (annual revenue under $1.5 million, with only about 10 employees) to large (annual revenue over $6 million, with almost 80 employees). All together, they analyzed 382 titles (all published in 2014). Ithaka S+R estimated costs at every stage of a book’s production, from acquisition to editorial to copyediting to design to marketing. What they found was that the cost of publishing scholarly monographs ranged widely, from $15,140 to $129,909. The overall average full cost of a book was $39,892. Staff time was, unsurprisingly, the biggest cost associated with producing a book. In addition, acquisitions work was the most expensive activity. Ithaka S+R also sought to understand what makes certain books more expensive to produce. They found that longer books, as well as books with illustrations do cost more. An author’s first book, however, was not more expensive than later books.

Despite Ithaka S+R’s well-researched report, more work still needs to be done on this important issue, particularly into why the costs vary so widely. In addition, presses are just beginning to publish digital projects, and the costs of producing this type of scholarship are largely unknown.