Announcing open textbook Fundamentals of Business, third edition

Cover of Fundamentals of Business 3rd editionVirginia Tech Publishing and the Pamplin College of Business are pleased to announce the publication of Fundamentals of Business, third edition. This peer-reviewed open textbook is free to read and download online. Print editions are also available via print-on-demand. Fundamentals of Business, third edition is the required textbook for Virginia Tech’s MGT 1104 Foundations of Business course. This introductory course is required for all graduates of Pamplin College of Business and averages 1,650-1,700 students annually. Pamplin’s choice to use an open educational resource keeps student textbook costs for this course at zero. Fundamentals of Business, third edition is released under a Creative Commons license, and may be customized and redistributed non-commercially with attribution. 

Downloaded over 1.5 million times worldwide (excluding Virginia Tech downloads), the first and second editions of this book have been adopted by over 100 institutions beyond Virginia Tech. Multiple instititutions report customizing the content to fit their needs, for example producing this Canadian edition. Over fifty institutions benefit from the 4VA-funded faculty-only testbank collaboratively developed during a Virginia Tech-hosted 2019 test bank sprint in response to user requests.

Ron Poff, Assistant Professor of Practice in Management, and his team provided updates to this third edition. The 2020 team included Poff, course instructor Lisa Fournier, editorial assistant and recent Pamplin graduate Kathleen (Katie) Manning, design specialist Kindred Grey, Assistant Director of Open Education and managing editor Anita Walz, plus copyeditors Grace Baggett and Lauren Holt, and production manager Robert Browder. Poff and colleagues built on the work of Stephen Skripak, Anastasia Cortes, Anita Walz, Richard Parsons, Gary Walton, and Corinne Guimont, all of whom contributed to the development of previous editions. 

Virginia Tech’s first and second adaptations of Fundamentals of Business were published in 2016 and 2018. These editions were adapted from an existing openly licensed textbook with significant revision and addition of new material to ensure an excellent fit for the Foundations of Business at Virginia Tech. The 2020 team researched, redesigned, and contributed new content to update the learning resource. 

CC-BY-NC-SA logo

The book, licensed CC BY NC SA 4.0 is available in accessible HTML and interactive quizzing on the Pressbooks platform, in PDF, ePub, Mobi, ODT, and XML formats. Print on demand is also available at the manufacturer’s cost in color, and black and white. The third edition includes data updates, graphic redesign over 70 figures, updated content to reflect changes in technology, law, and economics, and inclusion of company examples more familiar to today’s students. The book includes images of people that are more representative of a diverse student body. The book’s publication on the University Libraries’ Pressbooks platform and through LibreTexts remix system enables customization and localization to fit various audiences.

This project was supported in part through by the University Libraries’ Open Education Initiative Faculty Grants program, Virginia Tech Publishing, and Pamplin College of Business at Virginia Tech.

Instructors evaluating, adopting, or customizing this book are asked to complete the following form: http://bit.ly/business-interest.

Posted in Open Access, Open Books, Open Educational Resources, Open Textbooks, Pamplin College of Business, University Libraries at Virginia Tech, Virginia Tech Publishing | Leave a comment

VTechWorks Update, Fall 2020

VTechWorks homepageVTechWorks provides global access to Virginia Tech scholarship, and offers an easy way for members of the university community to provide open access to their work. The university’s institutional repository is managed by the University Libraries, and receives theses and dissertations from the Graduate School, as well as deposits from Elements (EFARs), the faculty reporting system, eliminating the need to switch platforms.

Here are the latest VTechWorks statistics:

  • 82,000+ items, 34,000 (41%) of which are theses and dissertations
  • 2,100+ items deposited by faculty from Elements (EFARs)
  • 3,000+ file downloads per day over the last year (on average, bots excluded)
  • 530 items collectively have more than 3,000 Altmetric mentions
  • 96% open access full text repository (4% are embargoed, withheld, or legacy citation/abstract-only items)
  • 51,500 items indexed in Google Scholar (7th highest among U.S. repositories); also indexed by Unpaywall, Microsoft Academic, all major search engines, SHARE, BASE, and the VT Libraries catalog
  • 400+ items linked to from English Wikipedia
  • Top traffic sources are Google, Google Scholar, VT.edu search, and Bing
  • BASE can be used to sync items in VTechWorks to ORCiD profiles
  • Accessed globally, with the highest usage (after the U.S.) from India, China, the Philippines, the United Kingdom, and Canada
  • Provides a permanent URL (handle) for citing
  • Estimated 99.9% uptime

Recent items of interest (all videos):

Map of global usage for VTechWorks
VTechWorks usage by location, 2020

The easiest way for faculty to get their works into VTechWorks is to upload a file in Elements, because no registration is needed, and article metadata is often already present, which eliminates manual entry. Go to Menu > Publications and look for the upload arrow, which is the first in the row of icons underneath each entry (if you see the “double pages” icon, the item is already in VTechWorks).

upload arrow
Upload your file!
in repo
In VTechWorks

Deposit advice (such as which version you can legally deposit, and any publisher embargo) is automatically added to the deposit screen from Sherpa/Romeo, which aggregates journal policies for posting articles online. We are also happy to help anyone at VT identify which items they can legally post online – just email us at vtechworks@vt.edu. To learn more about open access, see our Open Access Guide. Students and staff should register and then email vtechworks@vt.edu and tell us which collection you would like to submit to. Faculty can also use this method if they prefer.

Recent and upcoming VTechWorks projects include:

  • Adding rights statements to the metadata for more items.
  • Improving captions for videos, which are now full text indexed.
  • Updating links to VTechWorks items in English Wikipedia.
  • Adding items to WorldCat (95% complete), which is also the discovery service for the University Libraries.
  • With the help of IT Services, we plan to test a pilot TDM studio. If implemented, it would expand usability for text and data mining.

We work every day to grow VTechWorks and provide effective global dissemination of scholarship by Virginia Tech faculty, staff, and students. Contact us anytime with questions or comments at vtechworks@vt.edu.

Posted in Open Access, Research Impact, Self-Archiving, VTechWorks | Comments Off on VTechWorks Update, Fall 2020

Announcing open textbook Strategic Management

Strategic Management textbook cover

Blog written by Anita Walz, with Sarah Mease.

Strategic Management (2020) is a 343-page open textbook designed to introduce key topics and themes of strategic management to undergraduate students in a senior capstone course. The book is published by Virginia Tech’s Pamplin College of Business in association with Virginia Tech Publishing. It is adapted by Reed Kennedy with Eli Jamison, Joseph Simpson, Pankaj Kumar, Ayenda Kemp, and Kiran Awate — all faculty of the Pamplin College of Business — and recent Pamplin graduate, Kathleen Manning. The work was deeply adapted from an existing open textbook. This project was made possible in part with support from the Pamplin College of Business and the Open Education Initiative at the University Libraries.

The text is ideal for courses which focus on how organizations operate at the strategic level to be successful. Strategic Management illustrates the different management strategies used by firms today. It illustrates these strategies through examples of familiar companies and current personalities, and discusses strategy implementation. The text is applicable to students in a wide variety of business majors such as marketing, management, accounting, finance, real estate, and more. Using this material, students will learn how to conduct case analyses, measure organizational performance, and conduct external and internal analyses.

Accessing this Book

This textbook is openly licensed and freely available electronically and at cost in print:

In addition, Strategic Management is indexed in OER Commons, Merlot, and the Open Textbook Library.

Additional Features of the book: 

How to Adopt this Book

Instructors reviewing, adopting, or adapting this textbook are encouraged to register their use at: http://bit.ly/strategy-interest.

About the Contributors

Reed B. Kennedy is an Associate Professor of Management Practice in the Management Department, Pamplin College of Business at Virginia Tech where he teaches management courses. He began his career as a naval officer before entering his primary career in healthcare administration, where he served in senior executive roles in various hospitals for over 20 years. He then worked as a business consultant for the Small Business Development Center for the New River Valley at Radford University. His education includes a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering from the U.S. Naval Academy, a Masters of Healthcare Administration from Medical College of Virginia / Virginia Commonwealth University, a Masters in Public Health and a Graduate Certificate in Global Planning and International Development from Virginia Tech. Reed served as the chief textbook reviser on this project. He worked with the contributor and editorial teams from project start to completion.

Other Contributors from Pamplin College of Business, Virginia Tech
Eli Jamison, Assistant Professor of Practice
Joseph Simpson, Colleagiate Assistant Professor
Pankaj Kumar, Assistant Professor
Ayenda Kemp, Assistant Professor
Kiran Awate, Assistant Professor
Kathleen (Katie) Manning, recent Pamplin graduate, and Research and Editorial Assistant

Editorial and Production Teams at the University Libraries at Virginia Tech
Grace Baggett, Copyeditor
Robert Browder, Digital Publishing Specialist
Kindred Grey, Design Specialist
Lauren Holt, Copyeditor
Kathleen (Katie) Manning, Research and Editorial Assistant
Anita Walz, Managing Editor

Posted in Open Educational Resources, Open Licensing, Open Textbooks, Virginia Tech Publishing | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

An Update on the Proposed Open Access Policy at Virginia Tech

The proposed open access policy at Virginia Tech has recently changed in two important ways. First, as a result of meetings with University Counsel, the working group will propose adding language to the university’s existing Policy on Intellectual Property, No. 13000, rather than proposing a separate policy. Second, the proposed language now includes all Virginia Tech authors of scholarly articles, not just faculty. This change came at the suggestion of the Commission on Graduate Studies and Policies, and the working group is now reaching out to undergraduate and staff representatives for input. See the working group’s policy page for details, including the resolution and marked-up Policy 13000, FAQ, and more.  The resolution will be presented at the Commission on Research this fall.  If it successfully passes through university governance, it would go into effect on July 1, 2021.

Policy homepage
Questions? Check the policy homepage

While no longer a free-standing proposal, the new language retains the core elements of a Harvard-style open access policy, namely the grant of a non-exclusive license to the university to allow hosting accepted manuscripts, an embargo option, and a per-article waiver. These elements allow authors to share their accepted manuscript from the day of its acceptance, without concern about violating the terms of their publishing contract. Similar policies have been in place at more than 50 U.S. universities for more than ten years.  The policy will help level the playing field with some of our SCHEV peers who already have policies, and who therefore have a greater ability to share research than Virginia Tech authors.

The importance of open access has been underlined by the coronavirus epidemic, not just for directly related research, but for all types of research. Copyright has never been a good fit for scholarly articles, which we freely give to journals, only to have access restricted.  It has never made sense that our research is out of reach for colleagues at some universities, scholars in low- and middle-income countries, taxpayers, policymakers, and our own alumni.

Open Access symbol "unlock"

The proposed policy is an important opportunity for Virginia Tech authors, but it will only matter if authors take advantage of it.  In the working group’s outreach over the past three years, the proposal consistently received a positive response.  We hope you will convey your support to your representatives in university governance.

If your question isn’t answered in our FAQ, feel free to email the working group at openaccess@vt.edu, or comment on this blog post (comments are open for 30 days).

Posted in Open Access Policies, Repositories, Self-Archiving, Virginia Tech, VTechWorks | Comments Off on An Update on the Proposed Open Access Policy at Virginia Tech

A Big Deal Update

This Open@VT blogpost is part of an ongoing series on Virginia Tech’s pending negotiations with the scholarly publishing giant Elsevier. Virginia Tech is one of seven research universities in the Commonwealth of Virginia that negotiates collectively with Elsevier and other large publishers to license access to thousands of scholarly journals through what are commonly called “big deals.” (The other schools are George Mason University, James Madison University, Old Dominion University, University of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University, and College of William and Mary.) The current big deal agreement with Elsevier is set to expire at the end of 2021. As this deadline approaches, we are eager to engage the VT community in a conversation about the best path forward.

Two men standing, backs turned, at a reading table in a medieval library
University of Leiden Library, 1610 (Public Domain image)

More than a year has passed since the University of California terminated its multi-million-dollar bundled journal subscription agreement with Elsevier. The news was startling at the time, even more so given the size and importance of the UC system to Elsevier and to scientific research in general. So it is perhaps just as startling that the stalemate has continued, with no immediate signs of a resolution on the horizon. This post provides a brief update on the UC-Elsevier situation and then points to related developments elsewhere that, taken together, shed light on where big deal negotiations in general are headed.  

After negotiations between UC and Elsevier broke down in February, it wasn’t until July that Elsevier officially cut off UC’s access to new journal content on the ScienceDirect platform. Since then, UC has been working to ensure that faculty and students have alternative means of access to this new journal content.

The next move came in August when a group of prominent UC faculty pledged to step down from the editorial boards of Elsevier journals until the publisher agreed to return to the negotiating table. This, however, appears not to have had its desired effect. According to the UC Office of Scholarly Communication website, the parties have only engaged in “informal conversations” through the end of 2019. And while there were plans to “explore reopening negotiations” during the first quarter of 2020, the COVID-19 outbreak may very well have disrupted those plans.

Meanwhile, neither UC nor Elsevier has been waiting passively on the sidelines. Far from it.

In California the UC system has successfully negotiated open access publishing deals with several other scholarly publishers including Cambridge University Press, PLOS, and ACM. These deals all incorporate key elements of what UC is seeking from Elsevier. That is, they do more than simply curb the rising costs of journal subscriptions. They support, in one form or another, open access publishing for UC authors. This cost-access nexus makes them “transformative” agreements.

For its part, Elsevier has been negotiating new license agreements with institutions and consortia both here and in Europe. In some of these agreements institutions are opting out of big deals, replacing their existing bundled journals packages with smaller, a la carte journals packages targeted to the specific needs of their campuses. 

For instance, earlier this month the State University of New York Libraries Consortium and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill announced their decisions not to renew their big deals with Elsevier, making them part of a growing list of institutions opting out of big deals. (An up-to-date list can be found here.)

According to SUNY’s April 7 announcement, “While both parties negotiated in earnest and tried to come to acceptable terms for SUNY to maintain access to the full ScienceDirect package, in the end there was considerable disagreement around the value proposition of the ‘big deal.’” 

UNC Library tweets, 4 April 2020

The calculus was similar for UNC, which announced its decision on April 9. “I tried to work with Elsevier but we had no choice but to break our big deal,” tweeted University Librarian Elaine Westbrooks. “We are free to select what titles we want. No more ‘cable packages’ of journals that we don’t read or value.”

The virtue of replacing a “cable package” with an a la carte package is that it addresses the immediate problem of exponential cost increases. SUNY expects to save as much as $7 million from the $10 million it currently spends annually. UNC expects to save approximately $1 million from the current $2.6 million deal. On the other hand, Elsevier’s pricing structure is such that institutions are paying significantly more money per title, which means fewer titles. The full ScienceDirect package contains over 2,500 journals, but SUNY is subscribing to only 248. For UNC, the number is 395.

Few if any librarians would argue that such an agreement is a long-term solution to the problem posed by the big deal. One might even call these “little deals” because, although they address the immediate problem of escalating costs, they fail to deal with what most would agree is the bigger and more entrenched problem––that of opening access to a growing body of scholarly research that currently sits behind a paywall. In short, they are not transformative.

Meanwhile, Elsevier has been doing much more than just signing smaller subscription agreements with schools such as SUNY and UNC. They are, in fact, piloting new subscription agreement models that are, at least in part, transformative in that they combine subscriptions and open-access publishing fees into one price. Such agreements are now in place in Sweden and Ireland. Here in the US, at least two universities have reached transformative agreements with Elsevier: Carnegie Mellon University and, perhaps surprisingly, Cal State University

Under the terms of the Carnegie Mellon agreement, which became effective Jan. 1, 2020, CMU is no longer paying separately to access Elsevier’s catalog of paywalled content and to publish open-access articles in Elsevier journals. Carnegie Mellon scholars will have access to all Elsevier academic journals, and all articles with a corresponding CMU author published through Elsevier also will be open access.

According to the Cal State announcement, its agreement “offers excellent content for a fair price, purposefully equalizes access across all 23 campuses, and sets the stage for the CSU faculty to more fully engage in Open Access publishing in ways that make sense for them and their fields of research.”

Unfortunately, only certain details of these agreements are made public, and the devil is in the details. For instance, a price might seem fair at the outset but if the amount of money Elsevier collects depends on the number of faculty that publish in Elsevier journals, cost containment will continue to be a problem for libraries, which again will be caught in the big deal bind of uncontrollable cost increases.

Nevertheless, it is significant that Elsevier has changed its position somewhat over the course of the past year and is now willing to accept transformative agreements in principle. This, of course, is what UC has been asking for all along, so let’s hope that a resolution to the UC-Elsevier stalemate is coming soon. 

Finally, let me offer a few takeaways from these developments:

  1. After years of threatening to step away from the big deal, libraries are now actually doing it. And they are finding seemingly palatable ways to replace bundled packages with much smaller, a-la-carte packages—even if it means paying significantly more money per title. In short, this option is on the table when it comes time for Virginia’s schools to negotiate with Elsevier.
  2. Libraries are successfully engaging their campuses in these decisions rather than going it alone. At SUNY and UNC, the final list of titles was arrived at through faculty and librarian consultations, together with analytics gathered from tools such as Unpaywall. As a result, all indications are that campus support is high. See, for instance, the responses from UNC faculty on the UNC Library twitter feed. (And, of course, at UC the negotiating team was remarkably inclusive, bringing together members of the Academic (faculty) Senate, the UC (campus) Libraries, and the California Digital Library.) Here in Virginia, we are committed to this same level of engagement.  
  3. The more one digs into the data, the less of a “good deal” big deals prove to be. The fact that libraries are able to drop so many titles from their subscription packages and still retain faculty support tells us something significant about how many of the titles in these packages are truly indispensable. As an illustration, here at Virginia Tech our statistics show that 40% of Elsevier titles get 50 or fewer downloads per year.
  4. There is no roadmap yet for institutions to follow in negotiations with Elsevier. Agreeing to a smaller subscription package is not a long-term solution. And while Elsevier may have budged somewhat in its stance on transformative agreements, the publisher has proved again and again that it knows how to maintain its profit margin in any deal it makes. In short, it seems unlikely that Elsevier’s idea of a transformative agreement will look anything like what higher ed institutions have in mind. 
Posted in Business Models, Commercial Publishers, Open Access, University Libraries at Virginia Tech | Tagged | Comments Off on A Big Deal Update

VTechWorks Update, Spring 2020

VTechWorks homepageVTechWorks is Virginia Tech’s institutional repository, providing global access to the scholarship of faculty, staff, and students, as well as hosting many university publications, images, and more.  Managed by the University Libraries, VTechWorks receives theses and dissertations from the Graduate School, and has a two-way connection to Elements, the faculty reporting system, allowing the deposit of files to the repository without the need to switch platforms.

Here are the latest VTechWorks statistics:

  • 79,000+ items, 33,800 (43%) of which are theses and dissertations
  • 2,000+ items deposited by faculty from Elements
  • 2,000+ file downloads per day over the last year (on average, bots excluded)
  • 313 items collectively have more than 2,000 Altmetric mentions
  • 96% open access full text repository (4% are embargoed, withheld, or legacy citation/abstract-only items)
  • 49,900 items indexed in Google Scholar (7th highest among U.S. repositories); also indexed by Unpaywall, Microsoft Academic, all major search engines, SHARE, BASE, and the VT Libraries catalog
  • Top traffic sources are Google, Google Scholar, VT web search, and Bing
  • BASE can be used to sync items in VTechWorks to ORCiD profiles
  • Accessed globally, with the highest usage (after the U.S.) from India, China, the Philippines, the United Kingdom, and Canada
  • Provides a permanent URL (handle) for citing
  • Estimated 99.9% uptime
Map of global usage for VTechWorks
VTechWorks usage by location, 2019

The easiest way for faculty to get their works into VTechWorks is to upload a file in Elements, because no registration is needed, and article metadata is often already present, which eliminates manual entry.  Go to Menu > Publications and look for the upload arrow, which is the first in the row of icons underneath each entry (if you see the “double pages” icon, the item is already in VTechWorks — please don’t add a duplicate).

upload arrow
Upload your file!
in repo
In VTechWorks

Deposit advice (such as which version you  can legally deposit, and any publisher embargo) is automatically added to the deposit screen from Sherpa/Romeo, which aggregates journal policies for posting articles online.  We are also happy to help anyone at VT identify which items they can legally post online – just email us at vtechworks@vt.edu.  To learn more about open access, see our Open Access Guide.  VTechWorks staff add some open access and public domain articles to the repository, but we cannot find them all.  Please do add open access articles after ensuring they are not already in VTechWorks.  Why? Publisher websites go down occasionally, and presence in the repository presents a better picture of research done at Virginia Tech (and is searchable from the the university’s homepage, vt.edu).

Students and staff should register and then email vtechworks@vt.edu and ask to be added to a collection as a submitter.  We would like to add more items to Student Works, where there are several collections to accommodate a variety of works from graduate or undergraduate students.  We’re especially interested in providing access to undergraduate theses and master’s projects, for those students who would like to make them available.

Recent and upcoming VTechWorks projects include:

  • Identifying  and removing duplicate items
  • Improving accessibility by using third-party captioning for our videos, and identifying any items lacking optical character recognition (OCR)
  • Providing better documentation for using VTechWorks as a research corpus, including accommodations for text and data mining (TDM) using the REST API (some documentation is on the DSpace wiki, and there are Python scripts for using the DSpace API)
  • Evaluating repository platforms for an expected migration in the next year (or two), which will also provide improvements in the user interface

We work every day to grow VTechWorks and provide effective global dissemination of scholarship by Virginia Tech faculty, staff, and students.  Contact us anytime with questions or comments at vtechworks@vt.edu.

Posted in Open Access, Research Impact, Self-Archiving, VTechWorks | Comments Off on VTechWorks Update, Spring 2020

Fair Use in the Visual Arts

Shepard Fairey's "Hope" poster of Barack Obama
Shepard Fairey, Barack Obama “Hope” poster, 2008

Why Copyright? Why Visual Art?

Copyright exists to allow creative ideas to flourish. It promotes making and the dissemination of ideas by providing creators with protections against the misuse of their work. However, many people abandon projects due to copyright concerns. That is why the doctrine of fair use is so important, especially in the visual arts. Fair use allows the use of copyrighted materials without the permission of the copyright holder, and therefore gives more freedom for artists to express their ideas.

Art responds to ideas about our culture and society. For this reason, many works of art are inspired by the work of other artists. There is even a field of art dedicated to using pre-existing objects or images referred to as appropriation art. Appropriation art has been extensively used since the 1980s and raises questions about originality, authenticity, and authorship (Tate, “Appropriation.” Date accessed February 13, 2020. https://www.tate.org.uk/art/art-terms/a/appropriation). Fair use can be understood through the context of appropriation art. Whether art is considered fair use or not is determined by four factors.

Four Factors of Fair Use

1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes.
2. The nature of the copyrighted work. For example, a court will consider whether the work being copied is informational or entertaining in nature. Fair use is more likely to be determined if the material is copied from factual work.
3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole.
4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work.

There is no clear formula of how the four factors should be considered in determining fair use. Grey area deliberately exists to assess each scenario on a case-by-case basis. See how this plays out in the two examples below.

Examples

David Smith, Cubi XXVII
David Smith, Cubi XXVII, stainless steel, 1965. 111-⅜ x 87-¾ x 34 in.
Lauren Clay, Cloud on my single-mindedness
Lauren Clay, Cloud on My Single-Mindedness (Cubi XXVII), acrylic and paper, 2012. 30 x 24 x 12 in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 2012, artist Lauren Clay created a small piece, Cloud on My Single-Mindedness, using soft materials. This piece was a response to original work by artist David Smith that was 8’ by 10’ and made from stainless steel. Clay’s work is an interesting commentary on the abstract expressionist art of Smith. Although the two pieces are visually similar it was ultimately settled outside of court that Clay’s piece met the standards of fair use because the small size, soft materials, and colored surfaces were a feminist response to Smith’s large-scale, stainless steel piece.

 

Left: Patrick Cariou, Yes Rasta, 2000; Right: Richard Prince, Canal Zone, 2008.

In 2000, photographer Patrick Cariou published a book on Rastafarian culture in Jamaica. Appropriation artist Richard Prince used photos from the book without attributing work to the original artist. Prince’s work garnered over ten million dollars in profit. This case raises questions about the extent to which Prince transformed, or did not transform the piece, what his ultimate objectives were, and whether his work diminished the market value for Cariou’s work. Ultimately, an appeals court decided that Prince’s work was transformative enough to a reasonable observer.

The last example, especially, illustrates the difficulty of assessing fair use. When writing about, teaching about, or making art remember that fair use is generally favored under these conditions: 1. using material for educational purposes or personal study; 2. transforming the original work in a way that it adds meaning; 3. using only small portion of the original work; 4. being able to articulate the use of copyrighted material by the objective of the new piece; and 5. citing the source of the original work.

[Content for this post was inspired by Fair Use in the Visual Arts: Lesson Plans for Librarians, an open-access e-book produced by the Art Libraries Society of North America. To learn more about fair use in the visual arts consult the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for the Visual Arts by the College Art Association.]

Posted in Fair Use | Tagged | 2 Comments

Book Review: Creative Commons for Educators and Librarians

Book cover for Creative Commons for Educators and LibrariansCreative Commons. Creative Commons for Educators and Librarians (Chicago: ALA Editions, 2020).

The recently issued Creative Commons for Educators and Librarians serves as the companion for the Creative Commons Certificate course (which I have not taken). At five chapters and 130 pages, it seems slight, but is always thorough and dense with references to additional resources (which are themselves annotated with Hypothes.is on the certificate website). Whether one is pursuing the certificate or not, this book is an excellent guide to understanding and using Creative Commons licenses.

Creative Commons (CC) is a set of copyright licenses, a nonprofit organization, and a movement (CC Global Network). CC got its start in 2001 as a response to the 20-year copyright extension passed by the U.S. Congress in 1998 (changing copyright to last the life of the author plus 70 years). Today CC licenses are international and used on 1.6 billion works on 9 million websites.

So what are Creative Commons licenses?

CC licenses are legal tools that function as an alternative for creators who choose to share their works with the public under more permissive terms than the default “all rights reserved” approach under copyright. (p. 7)

Creative Commons licenses give everyone from individual creators to large companies and institutions a clear, standardized way to grant permission to others to use their creative work. From the reuser’s perspective, the presence of a Creative Commons license answers the question, “What can I do with this?” and provides the freedom to reuse the work of others, subject to clearly defined conditions. All CC licenses ensure that creators retain their copyright and get credit for their work, while still permitting others to copy and distribute it. (p. 39)

To be clear, CC licenses are not an alternative to copyright (in the either/or sense), but are used with copyright, and are actually dependent upon it. Creative Commons licenses are intended for copyrightable works (text, image, sound, even 3D models), but are not appropriate for software, which has its own set of tailored licenses, and are generally not recommended for data (instead, CC0 or the Open Database License can be used).

The basics of using the licenses are covered well in the book, such as how to apply a CC license to your own work, and how to attribute the CC-licensed work of others. For your own work, you can use the license chooser, which determines a license based on how you respond to a couple of brief questions. Once you have decided on a license, you can mark your work with it, preferably by linking, or writing it out if the work is offline. Issues such as what to do if you change your mind, or find your work used in an objectionable way, are also covered. Everyone who uses CC-licensed works should familiarize themselves with the best practices for attribution and use automated tools whenever possible.

A long-time issue with CC licenses is the meaning of “noncommercial,” which the book clarifies:

It is important to note that CC’s definition of NC depends on the use, not the user. If you are a nonprofit or charitable organization, your use of an NC-licensed work could still run afoul of the NC restriction, and if you are a for-profit entity, your use of an NC-licensed work does not necessarily mean you have violated the license terms. (p. 51)

Creative Commons has a NC interpretation page for those who would like to explore all of the details. The NonCommercial stipulation has been the subject of the few court cases about CC licenses, including a recent case that was decided after the book was published. The good news is that the courts have always accepted and enforced CC licenses. A related question that comes up is whether CC-licensed works can be sold. The book itself is a good example; while freely available in PDF, the print version is for sale. This model is increasingly being used to publish scholarly books, such as those in the TOME project (of which Virginia Tech is a participant).

The public domain mark and the public domain dedication (CC0) are not licenses but describe the legal status of a work. The book helpfully lists the four ways that works enter the public domain (p. 27): the copyright expires; the work is not eligible for copyright; the creator dedicated the work to the public domain through the CC0 tool; or the copyright holder did not comply with registration formalities at the time (today copyright is automatic). Though not required, CC recommends attribution for these works as a community norm in their Public Domain guidelines. Finding public domain content is facilitated by the CC Search tool, which was also made available in a browser extension shortly after the book was released.

The book’s final chapter, which covers open access (OA) and open educational resources (OER), is a mixed bag.  The section on OA sometimes lacks clarity and includes a few puzzling statements.  For example, we learn that only “some” articles that pass peer review are published by the journal (p. 94), and that under funder open access policies, “researchers must retain their copyrights” (p. 96), which is not how the policies of U.S. funding agencies work. Nor do all open access journals use “liberal” licenses such as CC BY (though some funders may require it). In general, the OA section is a bit confusing in places, and would have been more effective if OA publishing and OA archiving had been introduced early on and clearly differentiated.

Fortunately, the section on open education and OER is stronger. The advantages of OER over proprietary, temporary online access to learning resources are described well, as are the compatible licenses (CC BY is recommended; the ND licenses are not OER since they prevent editing) and the “5R permissions” they make possible (retain, reuse, revise, remix, redistribute). Tips on finding and evaluating OER are outlined, as is the importance of sharing an editable, accessible version of the work.

Although I have been familiar with CC licenses for several years, both creating and using works with the licenses, I learned more than I expected from this book. Moral rights (for example, the rights to be identified as the author of the work and to protect the work’s integrity) exist in many countries, and continue indefinitely even after a work is in the public domain. Because CC licenses only address the copyright of a work, they have no effect on moral rights and other related rights. While U.S. fair use is evaluated according to a 4-factor test, I learned that the Berne Convention, which standardizes copyright law internationally, also accommodates fair use under a 3-step test. And it was surprising to learn that not all countries allow creators to waive copyright by making a CC0 (“No rights reserved”) public domain dedication.

Creative Commons for Educators and Librarians is filled with so many links to additional resources that most readers will benefit from using the PDF version over the print version.  Even so, there are several links that don’t resolve properly because they are either partially linked or they span two lines. While this problem is relatively easily remedied by the reader, another issue runs deeper. The abundance of links in this book likely means that some will be “404” in a year or three from now. I always wonder about YouTube links as well, since Google can choose to do anything it likes with those videos, including deleting them. Preservation, including web archiving, is often overlooked yet is essential to openness.

Creative Commons licenses are a brilliant idea and an excellent fit for academia, where sharing knowledge and receiving credit are far more important than making a profit from one’s work. Hopefully guides like this one will encourage more teachers and researchers to use CC licenses on their works and enable truly efficient knowledge sharing.

Creative Commons for Educators and Librarians is licensed CC BY 4.0 and can be downloaded in PDF, or checked out from Newman Library, or purchased in print at the ALA store. Neither the book nor this blog post constitute legal advice.

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Announcing: Electromagnetics, Volume 2 by Ellingson

Cover for Electromagnetics Volume 2
COVER DESIGN: ROBERT BROWDER; COVER IMAGE: (C) MICHELLE YOST. TOTAL INTERNAL REFLECTION (COLOR ADJUSTED AND CROPPED BY ROBERT BROWDER) IS LICENSED CC BY-SA 2.0

The University Libraries at Virginia Tech is pleased to announce publication of Electromagnetics, volume 2 from the Steven W. Ellingson and the Open Electromagnetics Project at Virginia Tech.

Electromagnetics, volume 2 by Steven W. Ellingson is a 216-page peer-reviewed open textbook designed especially for electrical engineering students in the third year of a bachelor of science degree program. It is intended to follow Electromagnetics, volume 1 as the primary textbook for the second semester of a two-semester undergraduate engineering electromagnetics sequence. 

The book and its accompanying ancillary materials  (problem sets, solution manual, LaTeX source files, and slides of figures used in the book) are open educational resources: freely available and openly licensed (CC BY SA 4.0). Freely downloadable versions are available at https://doi.org/10.21061/electromagnetics-vol-2. A softcover print version is available via Amazon. A screen-reader friendly/accessible version will be available in late January 2020.

Focus of the bookThe book addresses magnetic force and the Biot-Savart law; general and lossy media; parallel plate and rectangular waveguides; parallel wire, microstrip, and coaxial transmission lines; AC current flow and skin depth; reflection and transmission at planar boundaries; fields in parallel plate, parallel wire, and microstrip transmission lines; optical fiber; and radiation and antennas.

Publication of this book was made possible in part by the University Libraries at Virginia  Tech’s Open Education Faculty Initiative Grant program and by collaboration with Virginia Tech Publishing, the scholarly publishing hub of Virginia Tech.

Suggested citation: Ellingson, Steven W. (2020) Electromagnetics, Vol. 2. Blacksburg, VA: Virginia Tech Publishing. https://doi.org/10.21061/electromagnetics-vol-2 CC BY-SA 4.0

About the author: Steven W. Ellingson (ellingson@vt.edu) is Associate Professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia in the United States. He received PhD and MS degrees in Electrical Engineering from the Ohio State University and a BS in Electrical & Computer Engineering from Clarkson University. He was employed by the US Army, Booz-Allen & Hamilton, Raytheon, and the Ohio State University ElectroScience Laboratory before joining the faculty of Virginia Tech, where he teaches courses in electromagnetics, radio frequency systems, wireless communications, and signal processing. His research includes topics in wireless communications, radio science, and radio frequency instrumentation. Ellingson serves as a consultant to industry and government and is the author of Radio Systems Engineering (Cambridge University Press, 2016).

A September 2018 blog post regarding Volume 1 of this series is available here

Express your interest and subscribe to updates about the Electromagnetics series.

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Book Review: Understanding and Negotiating Book Publication Contracts

Cover of Understanding and Negotiating Book Publication ContractsUnderstanding and Negotiating Book Publication Contracts, prepared by Brianna L. Schofield, Robert Kirk Walker, Katherine Bridge, Alfredo Diaz, Karen Graefin vom Hagen, Anna Kuksenkova, Henry Nikogosyan (Berkeley: Authors Alliance, 2018).

The latest and largest of the series of guides from the Authors Alliance covers publication contracts for all types of books (previous guides on open access, rights reversion, and fair use were covered on this blog).  The guide covers contracts from both trade and academic publishers so some aspects of the discussion will be more relevant for trade books rather than academic books.  (Also worth noting is that neither the book nor this blog post constitute legal advice, and in the interest of full disclosure, I was one of the Kickstarter backers for this book.)

The guide is the product of interviews with many authors, publishers, agents, and copyright experts, as well as more than fifty survey responses from authors.  Some of those responses are captured in text boxes for “success stories” and “cautionary tales”; in addition, fictional “literary lessons” are also set apart from the main text.  A book publication contract “outlines what rights you as an author are granting to your publisher and on what terms” (p.4): it is certainly not something to accept as easily as software terms of use.  Indeed, the authors insist that signing a contract without negotiating is a mistake.  A book publication contract must be in writing and signed, and it is especially important to save copies of it for future reference.

Prior to negotiation, authors should determine their goals for the published book.  Is it important to retain copyright, or to be able to re-use the content in certain ways, or to keep the price low, or to have final say on design choices like cover art?   The guide recommends that authors “devote extra attention to clauses in their contracts that affect the long-term availability of their books” (p. 14).  The guide explains what “in print” and “out of print” mean in the era of print-on-demand and digital publishing, and recommends a threshold of yearly sales to be called “in print.”  If a book does not meet that threshold, an author may be able to regain rights to the book.   At a minimum, don’t assign rights to the publisher that the publisher can’t use.

Copyright is a bundle of rights: “the exclusive right  to reproduce, distribute, make derivative works, publicly perform, and publicly display the work.” (p. 51).  The grant of rights from an author to a publisher can come in three forms: assignment (copyright transfer), an exclusive license, or a non-exclusive license, but most contracts will involve either assignment or an exclusive license.  Regardless of which form the grant of rights takes, the scope of those rights can be limited, for example, by language, geography, format, and/or duration.  Duration may particularly be worth considering, since the current term of copyright is life of the author plus 70 years.   If a publisher goes out of business, for example, it may be difficult if not impossible to recover rights for the book.  In an interesting “success story” on limiting duration of rights, an author granted exclusive rights to a publisher for five years, after which rights were non-exclusive.  This allowed the author to post an openly-licensed version online, while enabling the publisher to recoup costs during five years of book sales (though there is some evidence that the online availability of books can help print sales).  If a publisher won’t  accept a limitation on the duration of rights, an author can ensure that there is a rights reversion clause or a “license-back” in which certain specific, limited rights are returned.  It’s also possible to include a “revert-back” clause, sometimes known as “use it or lose it” clause, in which rights that are unused by the publisher in a certain period of time revert back to the author.  Another way for authors to hold on to rights is to include a sentence specifying that any rights not granted in the contract belong to the author.  Subsidiary rights, which are specific rights that the publisher can license to a third party (such as translation or movie rights), can be an important revenue generator, and are usually shared with the author.  If a publisher is unwilling to change the subsidiary rights language, an author can stipulate a right to approve these licenses, or at least be consulted.

A section of the guide covers an author’s obligations, such as those relating to the manuscript’s length, delivery date, and procedures for copyediting, proofreading, and indexing.  Contracts typically require permission to use third-party material included in the manuscript (which is also common in the copyright transfer agreements for peer-reviewed journal articles).  While this generally applies to only those materials that require permission, an author might ensure that the requirement does not cover all third-party material, which overlooks fair use of copyrighted works, as well as materials that are openly licensed or in the public domain.  For the book’s copyright, the contract should specify which party will register the copyright and when.  Although copyright is automatic under U.S. law, registration within three months of publication will protect against infringement and allow for statutory damages.

What about the money?  Academic authors shouldn’t expect much here.  Advances, however, are common in trade publishing, and are credited against income from book sales.  Royalties are usually expressed as a percentage of the publication price, net income, or net profit– it’s important to understand each calculation (there’s a chart on p. 204).  Both trade and academic book contracts may include an escalation, or an increase in the royalty percentage once a sales threshold is reached, and most contracts provide for regular accounting statements to be sent to the author, and should be insisted upon even if you don’t expect significant sales.

Understanding and Negotiating Book Publication Contracts, like the other Authors Alliance guides, is a clear, easy-to-read guide focused on an author’s control of their works, particularly the ability to make the work available in whatever form the author wishes.  The guide is a valuable resource for all authors, and is an open access book (licensed CC BY) available online in PDF.   Those readers who prefer print can order a copy ($30) from the Authors Alliance, or check it out from Newman Library.  For more information, see the Authors Alliance’s Publication Contracts resource page, which includes a link to author success stories in negotiating book contracts.  Also of possible interest is the Model Publishing Contract for Digital Publishing, a Mellon-funded project of Emory University and the University of Michigan.

(Thanks to Peter Potter, director of Virginia Tech Publishing, for reviewing a draft of this blog post.)

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