OAR conference notes – Maarten Wilbers

Session Six: A Legal Framework Supporting Open Access

Maarten Wilbers – Deputy Legal Counsel, CERN

Large Hadron Collider (LHC) – switched on 10 September

SCOAP = Sponsoring Consortium for Open Access Publishing in particle physics

Fundamental research mandate in particle physics – in a good place to move to full OA publishing of their scientific data and publications – this might be the “tipping point” for scientists in other disciplines

CERN founded in early 50s – OA in high energy physics was “in the cards” from the beginning…because OA is so logical

If you walk around CERN you can see the enormous tools constructed from public funds to help scientists gain greater understanding of small particles – the case for OA can almost be made without a word being spoken

OA in publishing is the future

CERN’s 1954 Convention has laid the foundation for a culture of openness in the dissemination of the organisations scientific work: CERN must perform fundamental research for non-military purpose and make the results of its work generally available

This requirement of openness has helped in the shaping of a string of sequential milestones:

  • Scientific collaboration across national (and political) boundaries;
  • Preprint culture and peer review;
  • World Wide Web;
  • Computing Grid and Open Source software;
  • And most recently: promotion of OA publishing.

The legal frameworks governing these activities are supportive rather than restrictive in nature and adapted to collaboration involving multiple participants. Legal issues mostly concern copyright and are generally uncontroversial.

OA is a logical application of the web.

SCOAP aims to convert high quality particle physics journals to OA

Scientific experiments at CERN reflect CERN’s requirement of openness

Collaboration usually laid down in MOU – IPR vested in creating party, wide licensing between all parties involved

Publication of CERN’s work: particle physics pioneered the pre-print culture in the 1950s, scientific manuscripts circulated between scientists for peer review before publication

Main milestone was the creation of the World Wide Web at CERN by Tim Berners Lee

1992 – CERN released the WWW software in the public domain – “CERN relinquishes all intellectual property rights to this code, both source and binary form and permission is granted for anyone to use, duplicate, modify and redistribute it”

Why OA (from CERN’s perspective)?

  • High quality journals, offering peer-review, are the [High Energy Physics] HEP’s community’s “interface with officialdom”;
  • Depending on definition of HEP, between 5000 and 7000 HEP articles published each year, 80% in 6 leading journals by 4 publishers
  • Subscription prices make the current model unsustainable. Change is required
  • HEP is a global undertaking and OA solutions should reflect this.

CERN’s potential solutions for OA publishing:

  • Articles free to be read for all
  • Tender process will result in price of article; linked to quality
  • ….

Legal issues – keep things as simple as possible!

A strong example if OA publishing – the design of LHC published in OA journal (Journal of Instrumentation..?) just recently