CC Bait and Switch Update: e-Century responds

May 3, 2010, [MD]

After I wrote my last blog post about how many Open Access journals have confusing or contradictory licensing information, I sent a brief e-mail to the e-Century Publishing Corporation. They publish The International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Pathology, which I used as an example in my blog post. The blog post was really about a much more general trend, and I didn't mean to attack e-Century as a "worst case", but since I'd used them as an example, I felt it was fair to let them know about it.

They could have responded in all kinds of ways, but in fact, within an hour, I received a very polite reply from Dengshun Wang. With his permission, I will reprint our e-mail conversation below:

Dear Stian,

Thank you for your e-mail and your mentioning of IJCEP, one of our open access journals.

Yes, you are right about the copyright confusion among open access journals. The version of the Copyright Statement copied to your blog is the most recently updated version from the IJCEP's website.

One of the major reasons for this change was because some companies are trying to archive the articles published by us for pure commercial purpose – they will "lock up" all those articles on their websites and ask readers to pay to access them. This is obviously not right, and against our intention to keep all articles openly accessable to all readers, no matter where they are archived.

With the current Copyright statement for our journals, we hope that all articles will remain as open-access information, no matter where they are archived.

I hope that you can put this information on your blog, so that the readers of your blog will better understand why our Copyright is stated as it is; to be fair and supportive to our effort to promote open access.

Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions about this. Thank you for your interest in our work.

Best, Dengshun

Dear Mr. Dengshun Wang,

thank you for getting back to me so promptly.

I wonder if you could help me clarify a little further.

Are you using the CC BY license? In that case - you cannot stop people from using the articles for commercial benefit. Perhaps you would be more suited by the CC BY NC (non-commercial) license? This is congruent with your statement about how you would like the articles to be used.

Regardless of whether you choose CC BY or CC BY NC, would you consider making this clear on both the article abstract pages, and in the article PDFs. (Imagine for example, that a friend sends me a PDF of an article published in your journal. Just looking at the PDF, I would have no way of knowing that this was released under an open license, and that I was allowed to, for example, print it and share it with colleagues).

I think clarifying these issues would be very helpful. I strongly support Open Access publishing, and I wish you all the best in the endeavor to help spread scientific knowledge more widely!

With your permission, I will post both my e-mails, and your answers, verbatim to my blog.

Best Stian Haklev

Dear Stian, Thank you for your wonderful suggestion. We will change the Copyright Statement to "CC BY NC (non-commercial) license" for all of our journals as you suggested.

Would you please send me a weblink for "CC BY NC (non-commercial) license" for linking to our copyright statement if you have one?

Thank you for your support. Dengshun

Dear Stian,

We have updated the Copyright Statements in all of our journals, using Non-Commercial Creative Commons according to your advice. It is indeed more appropriate to our intention – keeping all articles published in our journals Open Access, no matter where they are archived or who archived them:

Yes, it is OK to post our previous e-mails to your blog if you think it is appropriate.

Best, Dengshun

Dear Dengshun,

you can find the link here.

I look forward to seeing this license clearly stated on your abstracts and in your article PDFs. Although I personally prefer the CC BY to the CC BY NC, the latter much better represents your intention, and one of the main purposes of CC licenses is to clearly signify the intent of the author/copyright holder.

Best Stian

Dear Stian,

As a response to your concern, we are planning to setup a stand-alone "Copyright" page on our web site.

We are also looking into the best way to deliver the information about licenses for articles published by eCPC, and to mention the "Creative Commons Non-Commercial License" in future publications, which may start from next volume of each journal, to keep the relative format consistency of the journal.

Thank you for helping us to clarify this important issue.

Best, Dengshun

So to summarize, they decided that the CC BY NC license was more appropriate to their journal. Personally I am a big fan of not including the non-commercial clause, but I certainly understand why they do so, and the most important thing is that they choose the CC license that is appropriate to them, and then use that consistently throughout the journal.

The other issue was that it was not clear from just viewing the individual articles, that they had been licensed with an open license. It seems that the publisher will now change that, something that is very positive.

There are many other journals out there that do the same thing, but this is one positive move from e-Century Publishing. I appreciate their interest and understanding, and wish them best of luck with their journals.


Stian Håklev May 3, 2010 Toronto, Canada
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