The Bipolar Nature Of Academic Publishing 05/05/2016 by Intellectual Property Watch 1 Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) The views expressed in this article are solely those of the authors and are not associated with Intellectual Property Watch. IP-Watch expressly disclaims and refuses any responsibility or liability for the content, style or form of any posts made to this forum, which remain solely the responsibility of their authors. By Gavin Keeney Since the late twentieth-century shift from the liberal university to the neoliberal university (the latter distinguished by the managerial class installed to leverage and extract value from academic research, plus polish the brand of the franchise), the publications’ ecosystem for academics, foremost in the Arts and Humanities, has been altered beyond recognition. Notably, it has exponentially expanded while at the same time suffering maximum constriction in the form of what legal scholars have called the “great copyright robbery” (Bernt Hugenholtz, 2000). Night Chrystal, credit: Thomas Tilluca Han,Studio xNOISIAmundi, July 2015, Manual and digital collage This altered intellectual ecosystem displays all of the dysfunctions of a natural ecosystem roiled and disfigured by exploitation and semi-abandonment. In the case of semi-abandonment, it is again the Arts and Humanities that bear the brunt of abuse, insofar as they are deemed of little value in the managerial university hell bent on both competing with other universities for research funds and polishing their image as a productive member of society – such productivity no longer measured by the development of scholarship in the Arts and Humanities that may have no obvious economic use (no patentable cause or effect). In terms of Intellectual Property Rights, the bipolar regimes of control as applied to publications now include metrics-driven assessments and approved or authorized publication venues. The primary battlefield emerging, however, is between the nascent open-access movement, which sides with the opinion that publicly funded research should be freely available on the internet (i.e., in the Cloud), and the older regimes of peer-reviewed publications that are generally owned by for-profit publishers who command control of copyright and who then market that research across multiple platforms, including selling it back to the universities that – in name – funded and/or produced it. The central pillar for all arguments in this case is confraternal knowledge production and who benefits. Yet the simplification of arguments that are made in defense of one position or another masks the much larger issue of the Moral Rights of Authors, a set of rights long eclipsed by statutory law, but an issue that has nonetheless recently risen to the top of the discussions of “value chain” and “knowledge transfer” in IPR circles. Additionally, the academic field known as Critical Legal Inquiry is beginning to address the larger concerns of the Knowledge Commons and how forms of predation by for-profit companies who generally own all of the platforms noted above may be minimized. Curiously, the avant-garde scholars of law are definitively on the side of the Knowledge Commons, in part to polish their radical-chic credentials, yet at the expense of authors per se. This latter argument for the public commons indicates that Open Access indeed masks Moral Rights, and publishers, who once upon a time shared proceeds of net sales 50/50 with authors, have long since abdicated responsibility for authors as valued actors in the complex system of copyright management. Academic authors therefore have two primary choices: conform to the neoliberal expectations of the managerial university and adopt a cutthroat careerist approach to publishing their research; or, set sail for “elsewhere,” which includes navigating the tempestuous seas of Open Access. While Open Access offers the cachet of being on the side of the angels, it is effectively, for authors, yet another way of giving one’s work away. Several models under development by universities in alliance with the more liberal academic publishing houses that remain, and who have obviously seen the writing on the wall, actually include the latest angle developed for exploiting authors – the author-pay model. In this case the author agrees to cover costs of editing and production associated with his/her work. Generally, in addition to paying for the privilege of publishing in these academic publications that are being sold as in the interest of the public domain, the author still consigns copyright to the publisher. Royalties do not exist in this manufactured ecosystem that is now being implanted within the dysfunctional ecosystem created by multiple forms of predation over decades. The category error that permits this practice is that academic authors have secure positions and do not need royalties. Nothing could be further from the truth in the vast majority of cases. Therefore, it would seem that the next steps involve reversing the worst trends in metrics-driven assessment to permit alternative and diverse regimes of research and dissemination of research to occur, with the attendant recovery of so-called useless knowledge production on the Arts and Humanities side. Recent developments at WIPO (see CDIP/17/1 Prov. 3, April 7, 2016) suggest that the arguments regarding academic IPR only address IT and other scientific innovations, utterly ignoring the ongoing problems of copyright and the subsummation of copyright by both open-access models, neoliberal or otherwise, and the broken traditional relationship between authors and for-profit publishers. In this scenario, it is the Collective Management Organization that is supposed to moderate the abuse of copyright in the age of cognitive capitalism. Yet the purveyors of the digitalization of knowledge, with the most serious and grave concern being e-licensing, have failed to return value to authors. The outcome in academia is long-term precarity for academics, who effectively are expected to give their work away for reasons of “discoverability,” prestige, and the hoped-for tenured post always just down the road and around the corner. The moving goalposts are but one means of the managerial university for instilling competition and atomization among faculty. The CMO, then, which moderates exploitation outside of academia, has little purchase inside of academia due to the fact that academics are considered “hirelings,” to be played against one another on behalf of the corporatized university. The outcome, well-documented around the world, is distress for all except celebrity academics. In terms of publications, the distress is engendered by a fundamental narrowing of author rights. While Open Access is one answer, it nonetheless fails to address the issues of copyright and the overriding concern of Moral Rights – irreducibly the right to determine how one’s work is exploited. While it is all but impossible to return to Common Law, that does not preclude the fortification of Moral Rights on behalf of authors on the brink of losing all rights – including long-standing economic rights – through a change in statutory law. The alternative is further atomization in the Knowledge Commons with individual authors fighting to protect their own works from abject exploitation. Gavin Keeney is an independent scholar currently engaged in a postdoctoral study entitled Knowledge, Spirit, Law, developed in association with Punctum Books and the Center for Transformative Media, Parsons/The New School for Design. His most recent books include: Dossier Chris Marker: The Suffering Image (CSP, 2012); Not-I/Thou: The Other Subject of Art and Architecture (CSP, 2014); and Knowledge, Spirit, Law: Book I: Radical Scholarship (Punctum, 2015). In March-April 2015, under the auspices of the Fulbright Specialist Program, he conducted lectures on the subject of academic intellectual property at the University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia. Image Credits: Thomas Tilluca Han, Studio xNOISIAmundi Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related "The Bipolar Nature Of Academic Publishing" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.