Rami Olwan

All About CyberLaw, Copyright and Developing Countries

Open Access and Research Conference 2008

I attended a useful conference about Open Access and research Conference 2008 here in Brisbane Australia on 24-25 September 2008. 

The presentations that were made were quite comprehensive and covered a broad range of perspectives including: technical, business, governmental and non- profit. I was particularly interested in the legal issues related to open access (session 6 was entitled a legal framework for supporting open access). The legal session started on the second day from 11:00 until 12:30.

Mr. Maarten Wilbers from the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN), a Deputy Legal Counsel at the European Organization was the first to speak and gave a presentation entitled “ CERN- World wide Web, Open Source and now Constructing SCOAP: The Legal Viewpoint’  He outlined the background to the history of CERN and how did its idea started.

He mentioned that CERN in 1993 released the World Wide Web software (WWW) over the internet and did not assert any copyright over it. Open access is a goog option because of the high subscription fess that must be paid for specialized journals. Mr. Willbers mentioned that there are no major legal issues related to choosing an open access model since this is a policy matter. Lawyers and legal consultants should keep things simple and clear as much as possible.

Professor Brian Fitzgerald talk entitled “Copyright Licensing Open Access”. He began by emphasising that few lawyers have enough knowledge on legal issues related to open access, but academics are more capable on these matters. Open access does not happen by default and it is critical to have in place policies and practical steps to achieve it. Educating the public about open access and understanding the legal issues associated with is also a must.

Professor Fitzgerald gave also a basic overview of copyright and its relevance to open access such as copyright ownership, publishing agreements and assignments. No definition of open access was provided but the following terms could give us an indication of it: deposit, internet, access and free. Reuse is important for further research and development of education. Professor Fitzgerald also discussed Creative Commons (CC) and how it relates to open access. He mentioned also electronic theses, public sector information and IP standards.

The commentator Ms. Jennir Borowik (Australian Bureau of Statistics) thought that CERN perspective is quite interesting from a science perspective and that the no price policy was more helpful. CC model is useful since it eliminate the legal barriers to open access.

The commentator Mr. Jeffrey Kingwell (Geoscience Australia) mentioned that business requirement conflict between sharing and IP policy and CC is an attractive approach that should be evaluated and used whenever possible.

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