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Message from the University Librarian:
Faculty Approve Guidelines on Retaining Copyrights

A resolution approved by the UCI Academic Senate Assembly in fall 2004 encourages faculty members to retain nonexclusive copyrights in their original scholarship. The goal is to ensure the widest possible dissemination in order to stimulate both education and additional research.

The Joint Resolution on Scholarly Communication and Faculty Copyright (www.lib.uci.edu/scamp/joint_resolution.html) was a joint proposal by the UCI Libraries and the Academic Senate’s Council on Research, Computing, and Library Resources (CORCLR), arising from our recent efforts to develop strategies posed by changes in scholarly communication systems. It was approved unanimously by the UCI Academic Senate Assembly.

The resolution emphasizes that the power to change and improve the structure of scholarly publishing lies with those who create the content. UCI faculty own the copyrights in their research and writing upon its creation, but the norm has been that scholars assign their copyrights exclusively to a publisher, as indicated by standard publisher contracts. The resolution encourages faculty to exercise their legal right to retain a few non-exclusive rights that are essential for scholarly research and instruction by adding alternative wording to contracts. It also endorses the UCI Libraries’ leadership in working with faculty to develop alternative modes of disseminating information that allow broad access, including standard language for use in publisher contracts, copyright workshops and consultations, educational materials, copyright management programs, and other services.

This action comes at a time when the flexible use of research materials is under assault by publishers whose intention is to restrict use in order to maximize profits. This clearly is at odds with the academy’s objectives of sharing new knowledge as broadly as possible to advance scholarship and to improve society at large.

The passage of the UCI resolution is a significant initiative that supports the Libraries’ Scholarly Communication and Management Program (SCAMP) (www.lib.uci.edu/scamp/joint_resolution.html). Unlike resolutions passed at other research universities which have focused on the serials pricing crisis, the UCI resolution focuses on the essential role that wide access to research output has for the creation of new knowledge.

I see the exclusive granting of author’s rights to publishers as a key issue in the effort to change the current structure of scholarly communication. A creator who gives away copyright loses the right to permit use of that work in a variety of flexible ways. It is essential for the future of the academy that individuals manage their own author’s rights in ways that allow us to influence the future of scholarly communication for the better. UC’s eScholarship initiative, described on page 5 of this issue, provides one vision of that future.

Gerald J. Munoff
University Librarian

 

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