On Feb 14, I got an intriguing email from Brian Matthews about a special edition of the Journal of Library Administration he was editing. It was a request for a chapter for an edition of the journal called Imagining the Future of Libraries, and the Brian’s pitch to me was enough to make me very interested:
[Brian]I’d love for you to contribute an essay around the topic of technology. Beyond most digital collections. Beyond everyone and everything mobile— what unfolds then?
I mean, if I have a specialty, this is it. I love nothing more than I love a good dose of futurism, and told him so. My one concern was the Journal’s publisher, Taylor & Francis, and the fact that I refuse to sign over my copyright on work I create. I’m happy to license it in any number of ways that gives the publisher the rights they need to distribute the work, but I won’t write something for someone else to own. From my reply email to him:
[Me]…there are definitely some details that I’d love to know before I commit. Just to check, this is the same Journal of Library Administration that’s published by Routledge/Talor & francis, correct? What is their author agreement like? I’m pretty dedicated to OA, and wouldn’t be willing to agree to any publication restrictions beyond something like a very short exclusivity clause.
Brian replied with a link he found to Taylor & Francis’ author agreement, which I read…and then responded, a bit more pointedly:
[me] I’ll be blunt: there is no situation in which I’d sign copyright over the T&F…or, frankly, anyone. I’m very happy to sign a license of limited exclusivity (say, 30-90 days) for publication, or license the work generally under a CC license and give T&F a specific exemption on NC so they can publish it. But their language about “Our belief is that the assignment of copyright in an article by the author to us or to the proprietor of a journal on whose behalf we publish remains the best course of action for proprietor and author alike, as assignment allows Taylor & Francis, without ambiguity, to assure the integrity of the Version of Scholarly Record, founded on rigorous and independent peer review. ” is just…well, bollocks.
I am very interested in the topic, and I’ve got a ton to say about it…would love to write it. But we’d have to work out the copyright issue.
Brian’s response from a week or so later indicated that the combination of speed of production (the deadline for the chapters was May 1) and the lack of communication from Taylor and Francis meant this wasn’t going to work out for me to be involved. I was bummed, but totally understood and let him know that I’d love to work on something else with him when the stakes were different.
Our conversation lasted just a couple of weeks, from Feb 14 to Mar 1. Imagine my surprise today when I saw a tweet from Meredith Farkas that said the editorial board of the Journal of Library Administration just resigned because of T&F practices.
Wow! Did the entire Journal of Library Administration editorial board just resign over Taylor & Francis’ practices? Mad props to them!
— Meredith Farkas (@librarianmer) March 23, 2013
Turns out that Brian himself seemingly broke the news in a blog post. From that post:
“A large and growing number of current and potential authors to JLA have pushed back on the licensing terms included in the Taylor & Francis author agreement. Several authors have refused to publish with the journal under the current licensing terms.”
“Authors find the author agreement unclear and too restrictive and have repeatedly requested some form of Creative Commons license in its place.”
“After much discussion, the only alternative presented by Taylor & Francis tied a less restrictive license to a $2995 per article fee to be paid by the author. As you know, this is not a viable licensing option for authors from the LIS community who are generally not conducting research under large grants.”
“Thus, the Board came to the conclusion that it is not possible to produce a quality journal under the current licensing terms offered by Taylor & Francis and chose to collectively resign.”
Between this, and Chris Bourg’s blog post about this event, it sounds like the editorial board had been working for some time to convince T&F of how much they needed to change their expectations for author licensing. Since their requests seemingly fell on deaf ears, they took the only step really offered them, and withdrew from their positions.
I applaud them this decision. I fully understand that I speak from a position of privilege, as I have the ability to turn down writing opportunities such as this without it effecting my career negatively, and that what I’m about to say is said from this same position, but: No scholar should be producing work, whether that work be the creation of content, editing of content, or other, for entities which insist that they are doing you a favor by taking away your rights or the rights of those you represent. I could not in good conscience write a piece that I would have very much enjoyed writing for a publisher that was intent on depriving me of my ownership of that selfsame work. And I am incredibly pleased that the editorial board came to that same conclusion, and that they could no longer support said deprivation.
Brian: if you would still like my participation in that collection, and you find another outlet for it that does respect author’s rights, I’m all ears. To the editorial board, and especially to Damon Jaggers: Bravo! Let us hope that all of you move on to journals that respect the makers of the work they rely on.
13 replies on “The Journal of Library Administration”
Good for you, and good for the JLA editorial board. T&F is particularly intractable on issues of copyright — and that’s not just me saying that, with my particular bone to pick with them; I’ve had similar conversations with many scholars and lawyers. The only way T&F and other commercial publishers are going get it is if they get more & more pushback from authors and editorial boards. Demand for OA has to come from the authors.
Kudos to you! I recently put a speaking gig on the line over licensing terms and then ended up changing the terms. If authors don’t speak up for themselves, no one will.
[…] Read the full article @ JasonGriffey.net. […]
[…] I had recruited Jason Griffey to contribute a piece on technology. We were both pretty excited about the theme, but the lingering issue of author rights was front and center and it just didn’t work out. He chronicles the story here. […]
Thank you for telling us this story and for standing up for your own author rights. I was so impressed by the move of the editor and editorial board. Seeing this need for change voiced more and more loudly is wonderful, especially for those of us not yet tenured.
[…] positions. In an explanation of this decision already described in blog posts by Brian Mathews, Jason Griffey, and Chris Bourg, former JLA editor Damon E. Jaggars […]
[…] more about it on The Chronicle of Higher Ed, from one of the Editors, and from a fellow librarian who also stood his ground on licensing his […]
[…] agreement was particularly troubling to potential authors who are dedicated to the open-access movement, including even a member of the editorial board. Chris Bourg, the assistant university librarian […]
[…] the blog post, The Journal of Library Administration, Jason Griffey describes his concerns in detail after reading the Taylor & Francis author […]
[…] post, Mathews also linked to a post from Chris Bourg, one of the former board members, and from Jason Griffey, who earlier declined to participate in Mathew’s project due to pointed reservations […]
[…] Creative Commons license instead. (Jason Griffey, one of the authors who provided that push back, detailed his experience and applauded the board’s […]
How does the special JLA issue on digital humanities relate? Blog post here http://micahvandegrift.posterous.com/proof.
[…] access debate I’ve taken up the same position as some of my most respected colleges such as Jason Griffey and Hugh Rundle who decline to publish in closed journals. These are strong ethical decisions that […]