Welcome to the website of the Creators' Copyright Coalition. We at the CCC are committed to access to our creative works just as we are committed to copyright: we work for copyright legislation that ensures both. Here on our op-ed pages we will be posting opinion, commentary, links, and news of interest to creators and others engaged in copyright reform. Elsewhere, you'll find our archive of studies, handbooks and press releases. And while we're not currently hosting a discussion forum, comments sent to us may be posted or noted here (unless you ask us not to).

Copyright Conference in Banff

By Op-Ed Editor | July 31, 2006

Meant to mention this one earlier — big copyright conference organized by University of Calgary, in the mountains at Banff, Thursday to Saturday, August 3 to 5. Ethics, Creativity, & Copyright: here’s the link.

Good to know there are so many dedicated people ready to spend one of the best weekends of the summer in a room talking about copyright. Good luck, participants. Hope we can get some reports back before long.

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PODbooks a waste of time?

By Op-Ed Editor | July 25, 2006

Toronto writer Robert Sawyer, prolific novelist, winner of every SF award available, no technophobe, and with lots of business savvy (for a writer!), has concluded POD publication is pretty much a waste of time. See the discussion at sfsignal.com here. Thanks to Bookninja for the connection

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Copycamp Toronto September

By Op-Ed Editor | July 13, 2006

Here comes Copycamp, an “unconference” in Toronto September 28-29-30, spearheaded by Creators Rights’ Alliance. Creators, new media, access, copyright … all that stuff in a participatory format. Look into www.copycamp.ca for details.

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PLoS on payment

By Christopher Moore | July 12, 2006

Chris Surridge, of Public Library of Science (www.plos.org), sent the following thoughtful response to our comment on the Economist story about PLoS and who pays for it.

“The collective licence model is in effect the ‘conventional’ model for scientific publishing which has been in existence for decades, if not longer. Universities, research agencies, institutions and even individuals pay for access to a publishers output in the form of journal subscriptions and ‘site licences’. But that money has never been passed on to creators in the form of the scientists.

“Indeed the creators often have to pay to have their work published in the form of ‘stealth charges’ for the inclusion of colour figures or page charges. Those same agencies that pay for subscriptions and licences also pay the scientists to perform the research that later may or may not get reported. The scientists is more journeyman for hire than independent artist. If anything scientific papers could be considered a form of advertisement for scientists, demonstrating the quality of their work to attract future commissions.

“The goal of Open Access publishers such as PLoS is not to change who pays for the dissemination of scientific discoveries but to change the route by which it reaches the publisher and by so doing maximising its distribution. The general public pays for the vast majority of scientific research, funding “universities, research agencies and other institutions” through taxes and charitable donations, they have a right to expect that the product of that work is used as effectively as possible. To achieve that the scientific literature must be available to any interested party, not just those wealthy enough to afford a publisher’s licence.”

Surridge’s thoughtful explanation for why PLoS bills its authors so much advances the discussion on the rapidly evolving norms of online publishing. His first point is that collectives only work for publishers. Actually well-run collectives around the world often mandate that at least 50% of their payment go to creators, including academic creators. Given the presumably greater efficiencies of online publishing, a collective could probably pay an even larger share to reward and stimulate creativity, and still deliver enough to PLoS-type publishers to cover their overheads.

Surridge’s second point is that taxpayer-supported research should be available free to all. It’s an attractive idea. But universities are taxpayer-supported too, and they won’t let our kids in free. There’s a limit to what subsidy culture can sustain. It’s at least as reasonable that the costs of PLoS should be borne by the institutions that benefit from it rather than by the scholars whom it depends on for its existence.

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Paying for PLoS

By Christopher Moore | July 6, 2006

Eye-catching item, “Creative destruction in the library” about open-access publishing in academia in The Economist of July 1-7, 2006 here.

Way down in the story is a discussion of Public Library of Science, “flagship of the open access movement.” I’ve been a fan of PLoS. Academics on salary write scientific articles; we get access to them free. Lots of good science, mostly pretty technical but not always, is in there. I’ve cited it myself.

But guess what, publishing costs money, even when it’s paperless, online, and without rights payments. PLoS contrived to lose $1m doing everything for free last year. How are they coping?

Well, they are raising the fee they charge an author to be published in PLoS from $1500 to maybe $2500 per article.

Freelance creators won’t rush to hold tagdays for their university brethren over this. But the old rule clearly holds. When you hear talk of creative work being “free,” the largest subsidy is always coming from the creators themselves.

It is sad that the United States, which has done so much to innovate in online publication, is also the state in which collective licensing is weakest. Clearly PLoS’s solution is a collective licensing one. Universities, research agencies, and other institutions which make use of PLoS’s rich holdings should be licensed to do so and should be paying negotiated fees to do so. Those who provide the value get recompensed; those who benefit from it pay appropriately to support the whole worthwhile enterprise.

But probably the Ford Foundation or someone will come up with a subsidy and the illusion that online publishing is costless and copyright merely a nuisance will be preserved a while yet.

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