Tag Archives: Humanities

Image Copyright and Open Access in the Arts and Humanities

Copyright is a crucial topic in the Humanities because researchers in several disciplines (especially history of art, my field of study) rely on images for their work and because publishers usually require authors to pay copyright holders for permission to reproduce those images – failure to do so would make the author and the publisher liable for copyright infringement. 

At the OSC Symposium last 2nd October 2019 (Open Access Monographs: From Policy to Reality), Dr Nicola Kozicharow’s presentation on ‘Open Research Publishing in the Humanities’ made quite an impact on the discussions of the day. This early career historian of art, specialised in 19th– and 20th-century European and Russian art, talked about the challenge of publishing when third-party image copyright is involved. She detailed the difficult and sometimes grotesque situations that she and her contributor faced when publishing her first co-edited book Open Access, tracking down image copyright holders and paying exorbitant reproduction fees (1).

Not many academics outside the Arts and Humanities know about the invisible labour and material cost involved when working with images. Researchers struggle to find images on various heritage institutions’ websites (or GLAMs, as we call them – i.e. galleries, libraries, archives and museums), and pay to obtain digital images ‘for private use’ when the original work is unavailable or located too far. They often end up paying again in order to re-use those images when publishing their research. Even more frustrating is the lack of consistency between different institutions with regard to the amount of the fees and to the exemptions granted. If you beg the museum repeatedly and reach out to curators, you may have a small chance to have your permission fees waived (but still often in return for providing a free copy of your book/article). However, when sales department/companies act as intermediaries between researchers and museums, this kind of trick is most likely to fail, and the chances of opening the discussion about the absurdities of the fees get even slimmer. In 2018, Bridgeman Images, one of those ‘Image companies’, obtained the exclusive right of selling and licensing all images from Italian national museums, which was catastrophic news for art history (see their statement here).

The situation feels even more unacceptable when it concerns out-of-copyright works of art. In this case, heritage institutions in fact do not own copyright over the work as it has fallen in the public domain. Most GLAMs, however, manage to keep control of these works’ images by banning photography (the famous ‘no photo’ policies in permanent collections or temporary exhibitions) and by creating copyright by making their own photograph of the work that they subsequently sell to researchers. 

 An article by medieval art historian Kathryn M. Rudy published in Times Higher Education (also quoted by Kozicharow at the symposium) is a good example (2). There, Rudy detailed specific examples she encountered in her career and broke down the (shockingly high) real cost of working with images – she claims that the fees to publish images for her academic work since 2011 total £24,000 from her own pocket.* “The more successful I am, the poorer I get”, she says. The article went viral on academic Twitter networks and retweets and comments shine a light on the fact that many scholars face similar problems – one user ironically pointed out that it would be much cheaper to include with each book sold a packet of postcards from the museum than paying their prohibitive reproduction fees! (@winchester_books). 

This thorny issue of image copyright permissions in research publications is sadly not new. In the last couple of years, however, historians of art in the UK have succeeded to keep the issue at the front of the public debate. Back in 2017, an ‘End-fees-for-images’ campaign was started by Dr Bendor Grosvenor and Dr Richard Stephen. Along with 28 leading British art historians, they openly called for UK national museums to abolish image fees for out of copyright works of art in a letter published in The Times (3). Many other researchers in the field quickly added their names to this call through a petition on change.org. This campaign was supported in parallel by Grosvenor’s blog, Art History News – his strong presence in the media as a BBC4 presenter and on social media (@arthistorynews) also helped to promote the campaign.

This campaign revealed that there are in fact tools in the UK’s legal arsenal that art historians could use to limit fees. The 2015 Re-Use of Public Sector Information Regulations (RPSI), for instance, which “prevents publicly funded bodies from commercialising public assets” including publicly owned pieces of art. These regulations “do allow image fees to be charged, but only to cover the actual costs involved, and a very small ‘profit’”(4). They remain, however, very little used and barely known – both by researchers and museums. Interestingly, during the OSC’s Open Access Monographs symposium, it was also brought up that ‘fair dealing’ exceptions to copyright by way of quotation for the purpose of ‘criticism or review’ have not often been used by researchers and applied to visual material (5). Both RPSI and ‘fair dealing’ by quotation are in the end quite complex legal tools and, understandably, no art historians nor their publishers want to take the risk of a court case. We also have to take into account the wish of scholars to preserve good relationships with national heritage institutions in the UK – as images are their primary materials, their academic work depends on it entirely! 

During the Open Access Monograph symposium, the comment was made that this issue of high image reproduction fees as a barrier to Open Access publication was a misconception – that the real problem was instead about wider ‘digital’ and ‘online’ issues. However, the fact remains that permission fees are much higher if the image falls into the following categories (often used in image permission fees forms): ‘worldwide’, ‘online’, and ‘freely available’. How is this supposed to encourage researchers in the art and humanities to publish their research Open Access? We could, however, also frame the issue in a more positive way – what if Open Access itself could help humanities researchers deal with images better? Dr Kozicharow acknowledged the great support she received from Open Book Publishers (OBP) in allowing her to reproduce as many colour images she needed for her book. Kathryn M. Rudy, in her recent book also published with OBP, was able to display images in an innovative way (6). In order to contain costs, when images were already widely available, she instead added links on stable GLAMs websites – even QR codes in the case of the printed edition! Perhaps art historians should see open access publishing as a good opportunity to find innovative ways to think about solutions for images. Of course, there remains the problem of how Open Access is perceived in the Humanities, open access books not being sufficiently reviewed and often not deemed legitimate enough in the process of securing permanent positions and promotions – but this is a separate issue. 

What would be needed to help with image permission costs in art and humanities publishing?

In light of the growing requirements for open access publications, there should be better financial provisions to support researchers from universities and funding bodies. A recent report on Open Access from the Universities UK Open Access and Monographs Group, however, shows that there is a growing acknowledgement of the impossible situation faced by specific disciplines who rely on third-party material when publishing – such as history of art or archaeology. The UUK OA Monographs group notably recommended that “Given the already complex nature and expense of re-use clearance for illustrations and other third-party rights material in books, and the additional complexity and expense introduced by OA, an exception should be considered in any OA policy for books that require significant use of third-party rights materials” (7). 

Most of all, cultural heritage institutions have to do better. It does not seem unreasonable to be able to reproduce an image for free with the appropriate credit to the institution when a work of art is in the public domain. Some institutions worldwide have already started making their image collections open access or at least free of copyright fees for researcher’s publications. For example, Gallica, the Bibliothèque Nationale de France’s digital library, just changed its policy in favour of the latter. Positive changes such as these, that benefit the public and research, are being recorded and supported by the excellent Open GLAM initiative, funded by the European Commission. The new EU copyright directive (provided it can apply after Brexit?) should give the final push to get there, as it will allow free re-use of images of works of art in the public domain, even for commercial purposes.

Published 25 October 2019

Written by Dr Lorraine de la Verpillière 

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*Correction: The  £24,000 figure in fact corresponds to fees Rudy paid to obtain the high-res image files for her academic work since 2011. The figure gets even higher when including the said images copyright fees – in the same article, she mentions for instance a £5,683 invoice from the Bodleian for the reproduction cost of her next book.

If you are a researcher at Cambridge University and need more information about third-party copyright, the following resources are for you:

 Libguides

Architecture & History of Art: Copyright and plagiarism

Copyright for Researchers 

Copyright helpdesk: email copyright-help@lib.cam.ac.uk 

Face-to-face training sessions [available to Cambridge University only]

Copyright: a survival guide (for PhD students in Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences) 

Do You Really Own Your Research? Copyright, Collaboration, and Creative Commons 

Your faculty or department may also run bespoke sessions, asking your librarian is the best way to find out.

References

(1) Louise Hardiman and Nicola Kozicharow, Modernism and the Spiritual in Russian Art: New Perspectives. Cambridge, UK: Open Book Publishers, 2017, https://doi.org/10.11647/OBP.0115

(2) Kathryn M. Rudy, ‘The true costs of research and publishing’, Times Higher Education, August 29 2019 (Url: https://www.timeshighereducation.com/features/true-costs-research-and-publishing#survey-answer)

(3) Matthew Moore, ‘Museum fees are killing art history, say academics’, The Times, November 6 2017 (Url: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/museum-fees-are-killing-art-history-say-academics-qhfwmdws6 accessed: 10/10/2019)

(4) Bendor Grosvenor, ‘Why museums should abolish image fees (ctd.)’, Art History News blog, August 20 2018 (Url: https://www.arthistorynews.com/articles/5241_Why_museums_should_abolish_image_fees_(ctd.) accessed: 10/10/2019)

(5) Amendments to the The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 in the UK law since 2014, http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2014/2356/regulation/3/made

(6) Kathryn M. Rudy. Image, Knife, and Gluepot: Early Assemblage in Manuscript and Print. Cambridge, UK: Open Book Publishers, 2019, https://doi.org/10.11647/OBP.0145 

(7) Universities UK Open Access and Monographs Group, ‘Third-party rights’, in Open access and monographs evidence review, October 2019, p. 10-12 (PDF: https://www.universitiesuk.ac.uk/policy-and-analysis/reports/Documents/2019/UUK-Open-Access-Evidence-Review.pdf accessed 13/10/2019).

Disruptive innovation: notes from SCONUL winter conference

On Friday 27 November Danny Kingsley attended the SCONUL Winter Conference 2015 which addressed the theme of disruptive innovation and looked at the changes in policy and practice which will shape the scholarly communications environment for years to come. This blog is a summary of her notes from the event. The hastag was #sconul15  and there is a link in Twitter.

Disruptions in scholarly publishing

Dr Koen Becking, President of the Executive Board, Tilburg University, spoke first. He is the lead negotiator with the publishers in the Netherlands. Things are getting tight as we count down to the end of the year given the Dutch negotiations with Elsevier (read more in ‘Dutch boycott of Elsevier – a game changer?‘)

Koen asked: what is the role of a university – is it knowledge to an end, knowledge in relation to learning or knowledge in relation to professional skills? He said that 21st century universities should face society. While Tilburg University is still tied to traditional roots, it is now focused in the idea of ‘third generation university’. The idea of impact on society – the work needs to impact on society.

The Dutch are leading on the open access fight and Koen said they may look at legislation to force the government goal of open access to research articles of 40% by 2016 & 100% by 2024. [Note that the largest Dutch funder NOW has just changed their policy to say funds can no longer be used to pay for hybrid OA and that green OA must be available ‘the moment of’ publication].

Kurt noted that the way the Vice Chancellors got involved in the publisher discussions in the Netherlands was the library director came to him ask about increasing the subscription budget and the he asked why it was going up so much given the publisher’s profit levels. Money talks.

Managing the move away from historic print spend

Liam Earney from Jisc said there were several drivers for the move from historic print spend and we need models that are transparent, equitable, sustainable and acceptable to institutions. They have been running a survey on acceptable metrics on cost allocation (note that Cambridge has participated in this process). Jisc will shortly launch a consultation document on institutions on new proposals.

Liam noted that part of their research found that it was apparent that across Jisc bands and within Jisc bands there are profound differences in what institutions paying for the same material – sometimes by a factor of 100’s of 1000’s pounds different to access the same content in similar institutions.

They also worked out that if they took a mix of historical print spend and a new metric it would take over 50 years to migrate to a new model. This is not realistic.

Jisc is supported by an expert group of senior librarians (including members at Cambridge) who are working on an alternative. Liam noted that historical print spend is harmful to the ability of a consortium to negotiate coherently. Any new solution needs to meet the needs of academics and institutions.

Building a library monograph collection: time for the next paradigm shift?

Diane Brusvoort from the University of Aberdeen comes from the US originally and talked about collaborative collection development – we can move together. Her main argument was that for years we have built libraries on a ‘just in case model’ and we can no longer afford to do that. We need to refine our ‘just in time’ purchasing to take care of faculty requests, also have another strand working across sector to develop the ‘for the ages’ library.

She mentioned the FLorida Academic REpository (FLARE) which is the statewide shared collection of low use print materials from academic libraries in Florida. Libraries look at what is in FLARE and move the FLARE holding into their cataloguing. It is a one copy repository for low use monographs.  The Digital Public Library of America is open to anything that had digitised content can be put in the DPA portal and deals with the problem of items that they are all siloed.

Libraries are also taking books off the shelf when there is an electronic version. This is a pragmatic decision not made because lots of people are reading the electronic one preferentially, it is simply to save shelf space.

Diane noted a benefit of UK compared to UK is the size – it is possible to do collaborative work here in ways you can’t in the US. We need collaborative storage and to create more opportunities for collaborative collections development.

The Metric Tide

Professor James Wilsdon – University of Sussex spoke about the HEFCE report he contributed to The Metric Tide: Report of the Independent Review of the Role of Metrics in Research Assessment and Management. 

This report looked at responsible uses of quantitative data in research management and assessment. He said we should not turn our backs on big data and its possibilities but we know of our experience in the research systems that these can be used as blunt tools in the process. He felt that across the community at large the discussion about metrics was unhelpfully polarised. The debate is open to misunderstanding and need a more sophisticated understanding on ways they can be used more responsibly.

The agreement is that peer review is the ‘least worst’ form of academic governance that we have. Metrics should support not supplant academic management. This underpins the design of assessment exercises like the REF.

James noted that the metrics review team was getting back together that afternoon to discuss ‘section d’ in the report. He referred to this as being ‘like a band reunion’.

A new era for library publishing? The potential for collaboration amongst new university presses

This workshop was presented by Sue White, Director of Computing and Library Services and Graham Stone, Information Resources Manager, University of Huddersfield.

Sue talked about the Northern Collaboration of libraries looking at joining forces to create a publishing group. They started with a meeting in October 2104. There is a lot of uncertainty in the landscape, with a big range of activity from well established university presses to those doing no publishing at all. She said the key challenges to the idea of a joint press was the competition between institutions. But they decided the idea merited further exploration.

Discussions were around the national monograph strategy roadmap  that advocated university publishing models. The Northern Collaboration took a discussion paper to Jisc – and they suggested three areas of activity. They were:

  • Benchmarking and data gathering to see what was happening in the UK.
  • Second to identify best practice and possible workflow efficiencies- common ground.
  • Third was exploring potential for the library publishing coalition.

The project is about sharing and providing networks for publishing ventures. In the past couple of days Jisc has agreed to take the first two forward and welcome input. They want some feedback about taking it forward.

Graham then spoke about the Huddersfield University Press which has been around since 2007 – but was re-launched with an open access flavour. They have been publishing open access materials stuff for three to four years. They publish three formats – monographs, journal publications and sound recordings.

The principles governing the Press is that everything is peer reviewed, as a general rule everything should be open access and they publish by the (ePrints) open access repository which gets lots of downloads. The Press is managed by the library but led by the academics. Business model is a not for profit as it is scholarly communication. If there were any surplus it would be reinvested in the Press. In last four years they have published 12 monographs, of which six are open access.

Potential authors have to come with their own funding. Tends to be an institutional funder sponsored arrangement. The proposal form has a question ‘how is this going to be funded’? This point is ignored for the peer review process. Having money does not guarantee publishing. It means it will be looked at but doesn’t guarantee publishing. The money pays for a small print run, copy editing not staff costs. About a 70,000 word monograph costs in the region of £3000-£4000.

Seven journals are published in the repository – there is an overlay on the repository, preserved in Portico. Discoverable through Google (via OAI-PMH) compliance with repository, Library webscale discovery includes membership of the DOAJ. Their ‘Teaching and lifelong learning’ journal has every tickbox on DOAJ.

The enablers for this Press have been senior support in the university at DVC level and the capacity and enthusiasm of an Information Resource Manager to absorb the Press into existing role. Also having an editorial board with people across the institution. The Press is operating on a shoestring hard. It is difficult to establish reputation and convincing the potential stakeholders and impact. A lack of long term funding means it is difficult to forward plan.

They also noted that there are not very many professional support networks out there and it would be good to have one. They need specialist help with author contracts and licences.

Who will disrupt the disruptors?

The last talk was by Martin Eve, Senior Lecturer in Literature, Technology and Publishing, Birkbeck, University of London.  This was an extremely entertaining and thought provoking talk. The slides are available.

Martin started with critical remarks about the terminology of ‘disruptive’, arguing that often the word is used so the public monopoly can be broken up into private hands. That said, there are parts of the higher education sector which are broken and need disruption.

Disruption is an old word – from Latin used first in 15th century. Now it actually means the point at which an entire industry is shifted out. What we see now is just a series of small increments. The changes happening in the higher education sector are not technological they are social and it is difficult to break that cycle of authority and how it works.

Martin argued that libraries need to be strategic and pragmatic. We have had a century long breakdown of the artificial scarcities in trading of knowledge coming to a head in the digital age. There are new computational practices with no physical or historical analogy – the practices don’t fit well with current understandings. He gave a couple of historical examples where in the 1930s people made similar claims.

The book as a product of scholarly communication is so fetishized that when we want the information we need the real object – we cannot conceive of it in another form.

Universities in the digital age just don’t look like they did before. We have an increasingly educated populace – more people can actually read this stuff so the argument that ‘the public’ can’t understand it is elitist and untrue. Institutional missions need to be to benefit society.

Martin discussed the issues with the academic publication market. A reader always needs a particular article – the traditional discourses around the market play out badly. You don’t know if you need a particular article until you read it and if you do need it you can’t replace it with anything else.

Certain publications can have a rigorous review practice because they are receiving high quality submissions. But they only get high quality submissions if you have lots of them and they get that reputation because of a rigorous review practice. So early players have the advantage.

He noted that different actors care about the academic market in different ways. Researchers produce academic products for themselves – to buy an income and promotion. Publishers frame their services as doing things for authors – but they don’t do enough for readers and libraries. Who pays? Researchers have zero price sensitivity. Libraries are stuck between rock & hard place. They have the cash but are told how to spend it. The whole thing is completely dysfunctional as a market. In the academy, reading is underprivileged. Authorship is rewarded.

Martin then talked about open access and how it affects the Humanities. He noted that monographs are acknowledged as different – eg: HEFCE mandate. There are higher barriers for entry to new publishers – people don’t have a good second book to give away to an OA publisher. There are different employment practices, for example creative writers are often employed on a 0.5 contract – they are writing novels and selling them and commercial publishers get antsy about requirements for open access because there is a cross over with trade books.

The subscription model exists on the principle that if enough people contribute then you have enough centrally to pay for what the costs are. It assumes a rivalrous mode – the assumption is there will always be greedy people who won’t pay in if they don’t get an exclusive benefit.

The Open Library of the Humanities is funded by a library consortium. It is based on arXiv funding model and Knowledge Unlatched. Libraries pay into a central fund in the same way of a subscription. Researcher who publish with us do not have to be at an institution who is funding or even at an institution. There are 128 libraries financially supporting the model (as of Monday should be 150). The rates are very low – each one only has to pay about $5 per article. They are publishing approximately 150 articles per year.

Published 28 November 2015
Written by Dr Danny Kingsley
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