14 February 2008
Consider this scenerio. I write a paper. I put it on my web site. The site now gets about 5 million hits a year. (Even if most of them are looking for directions to Gary Indiana, that's a fair amount of distribution.) But if I get lucky and the paper is published in the lead journal in some academic field, the journal prints around 15,000 copies and I'm supposed to take it off my web site. In what universe does this make sense?
The Faculty of Arts and Sciences has at Harvard has now taken action to avoid this situation and adopted this policy:
The Faculty of Arts and Sciences of Harvard University is committed to disseminating the fruits of its research and scholarship as widely as possible. In keeping with that commitment, the Faculty adopts the following policy: Each Faculty member grants to the President and Fellows of Harvard College permission to make available his or her scholarly articles and to exercise the copyright in those articles. In legal terms, the permission granted by each Faculty member is a nonexclusive, irrevocable, paid-up, worldwide license to exercise any and all rights under copyright relating to each of his or her scholarly articles, in any medium, and to authorize others to do the same, provided that the articles are not sold for a profit. The policy will apply to all scholarly articles written while the person is a member of the Faculty except for any articles completed before the adoption of this policy and any articles for which the Faculty member entered into an incompatible licensing or assignment agreement before the adoption of this policy. The Dean or the Dean's designate will waive application of the policy for a particular article upon written request by a Faculty member explaining the need.
To assist the University in distributing the articles, each Faculty member will provide an electronic copy of the final version of the article at no charge to the appropriate representative of the Provost's Office in an appropriate format (such as PDF) specified by the Provost's Office. The Provost's Office may make the article available to the public in an open-access repository.
What do you think? Do you think your university could (or should) adopt this? (For more information, see this site.)