One positive aspect of the Internet's innovative capacity for rapid change has been the dawn of open access publishing that has came to prominence over the last decade. Leading the way is the non-profit organisation Creative Commons, which has just launched a new book showcasing how copyright, content sharing and collaboration can lead innovation in the digital age.
Directly in line with the European Commission's Digital Agenda strategy, which aims to make the Internet as fast as possible to foster economic growth and inspire job creation, as well as ensuring all citizens have access to the content and services they need, the Creative Commons project has had a direct impact on EU-funded research.
Creative Commons is the non-profit organisation behind a copyright framework and global standard for licensing that meets the needs of individual creators, companies and Internet users. It began by providing licenses for the sharing of content, ranging from music and photos to research findings.
CORDIS News spoke to Mark Patterson, Director of Publishing from the European Office of the journal Public Library of Science (PLoS), about the benefits Creative Commons has for innovation in European research.
He comments: 'Creative Commons licenses will continue to have a critical role in open access to research because of their solid legal foundation. The Creative Commons Attribution License in particular is becoming the gold standard in open access publishing. This license clearly indicates that a work can be reused for any legitimate purpose, commercial or non-commercial, without permission, thus maximizing the potential impact [of] the work. Open access is increasingly recognised as a driver of innovation and economic development, which is why it is essential that all publicly-funded research is made available without any access or reuse restrictions.'
The European Commission introduced an open access pilot mandate in 2008, which required that the published results of European-funded research in certain areas be made openly available. Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes recently stated that this pilot policy will soon be extended to all EU-funded research.
Two projects funded under the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) have also pushed forward the move towards open access to EU-funded research. SOAP (Study on Open Access Publishing), part of the 'Science in Society' Theme of FP7 and OpenAIRE (Open Access Infrastructure for Research in Europe), part of the 'Research infrastructures' Theme of FP7, both looked at how to create open access to EU-funded research.
The SOAP consortium made up of representatives from the world of publishing, funding agencies and a broad spectrum of research disciplines, studied emerging open access business models that have been developed as a result of the shift from print to digital documents. They then used this information to inform the European Commission and all other interested stakeholders about the risks, opportunities and essential requirements for a smooth transition to open access publishing.
The OpenAIRE project, which runs until 2012, focuses on the specific infrastructures needed for realising content sharing, and aims to build a portal that will act as a repository for everything related to FP7, from project calls to published papers.
The new book 'The Power of Open' contains many examples of projects and individuals from around the world whose work has been brought to a wider audience thanks to Creative Commons. DJ Vadim for example, a Russian hip-hop DJ raised in London, uses ccMixter, a community remix site that allows other producers to download his Creative Commons-licensed songs and remix them themselves. Human Rights Watch, the global non-governmental organisation (NGO) that has been championing human rights since the 1980s, uses the Creative Commons BY-NC-ND license to publish their reports. This license means that others can download your work as long as they credit you. However, this license restricts changing the content in any way or using it commercially.
And this is the beauty of Creative Commons; there is not just one type of license. There are several different types with varying restrictions depending on whether your content is to be used for commercial or non-commercial purposes. Creative Commons licenses give everyone from individual creators to large companies and institutions a simple, standardised way to grant copyright permissions and get credit for their creative work while allowing others to copy, distribute and make specific uses of it. Creative Commons licenses incorporate a unique and innovative three-layer design. The first layer is the 'legal code' consisting of traditional legal tools applicable around the world. This is supplemented with a 'human-readable' explanation in more user-friendly language accessible to most creators. The final layer is a 'machine-readable' description that software systems, search engines and other technology can understand and use to make searching for and utilising CC-licensed works more convenient.