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D-Lib Magazine
September 2003

Volume 9 Number 9

ISSN 1082-9873

Assumptions and Expectations

In a relatively short historical time frame, use of the Internet for finding, accessing and disseminating information has become ubiquitous—at least in first world countries. There seems to be an assumption that almost all information—including scholarly information—either is or should be made available online, and that such information should be accessible nearly instantaneously and, preferably, free of charge. Indeed, thanks to an increase in self-archiving by authors, as well as the creation of institutional repositories such as DSpace [1], more scholarly information is becoming available online, much of it via open access. And as more information becomes available online in that way, the expectation grows that all scholarly information will soon be available quickly and free of charge (or at least at lower cost than it is now). However, before that expectation is realized (assuming it should be), there remain many complex policy issues with which authors and institutions will need to deal. One of these issues involves intellectual property rights (IPR) and the assumptions and expectations that authors and others have regarding IPR. .

In this month's lead D-Lib article, "The Intellectual Property Rights Issues Facing Self-archiving: Key Findings of the RoMEO Project" [2], Gadd, Oppenheim and Probets discuss the results of surveys conducted as part of the RoMEO project. They point out that in their survey of academic authors, "61% of respondents thought that academics owned the copyright in [their] papers, although 32% admitted that they did not know who owned the copyright. When it came to assigning copyright, however, 90% of respondents reported having done so, which must include many of those that were not sure whether in fact they owned such rights." In addition, the RoMEO project team surveyed OAI (Open Archive Initiative) [3] Data and Service Providers (DPs and SPs), and the team discovered "...50% of responding DPs thought that metadata records were facts and, as such, there was no copyright in them. In addition, 68% of responding DPs believed that whilst there was database right in their collection of metadata records…this right was 'implicitly waived' within the OAI community."

It is unfortunate such confusion exists over what is covered by copyright and who holds the rights. In fact, the RoMEO survey revealed that one-third of responding DPs "had never thought about it".

It is hoped that articles such as the one by the RoMEO project team in this issue of D-Lib can serve as catalysts to help bring awareness to this important aspect of online access to scholarly information.

Bonita Wilson

[1] For more information about DSpace, see <>.

[2] See Gadd, Oppenheim and Probets, "The Intellectual Property Rights Issues Facing Self-archiving: Key Findings of the RoMEO Project", <.doi: 10.1045/september2003-gadd>.

[3]The Open Archives Initiative home page is at <.>.


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DOI: 10.1045/september2003-editorial