Follow Up Meeting on University Intellectual Commons Issues


Dear University of Maine System Faculty,

On November 20, approximately one hundred of your peers spent the day at a "Conference on the Intellectual Commons" at the University of Maine. The Conference began to address the pressing issue of how to expand access to scholarly literature at a time when spiraling journal costs and restrictive license terms are reducing our campuses ability to provide students and faculty with the full range of scholarly materials they need for learning and research. See the agenda at

In the final session, recommendations for actions the university community should pursue were raised and discussed. ~Many of the suggested actions, if implemented, could affect you directly and, hopefully, positively.

Participants in the conference called for a follow-on meeting to discuss which actions should be pursued as priorities and how they might be implemented. The planned meeting will focus on those activities listed under the heading of Potential Actions by University Campuses or the System in the material provided below. It is envisioned that such actions may be pursued through ad hoc committees, existing or new committees of the administration, or faculty senates on the respective campuses. Additionally, some actions might be pursued at the system administration and/or Board of Trustees level.

You are cordially invited to attend. Alternatively, send a representative of those with whom you work most closely.

What: Establishing a Practical Commons for the University of Maine System
When: Thursday December 16, 3:00-5:00
Where: Room 107, D.P. Corbett Building

We look forward to seeing you.

Professor Harlan Onsrud, Chair
UMaine Information Science Collaborative

A Practical Commons for the University of Maine System: Potential Actions

What are the specific actions or steps that University of Maine System communities might take to create a working commons for the output of our faculty, students, and researchers?

The following is a selected initial list of actions raised during the Conference on the Intellectual Commons (http://library/ held on November 20, 2004. The list is intended to serve as a basis for further discussion and potential action by University of Maine System communities.


We should acknowledge that:
* Support of the public domain and increasing access to intellectual works begins at home.
* Advancements and solutions are not for some "other group" to provide. We hold much of the power to increase access to the scholarly literature in our own hands.
* Any "coalition of the willing" to advance the knowledge creation, dissemination and preservation missions of our universities should be inclusive. We should welcome, invite or engage university faculty, researchers, librarians, staff, students, administrators, funding agencies, legislators, business people, community groups and any other interested citizens.

Potential Actions by Individual Professors

(1) Use Creative Commons and similar "some rights reserved" licenses with your web sites, articles, audio, video, and other digital works whenever possible so that others are put on notice that they may use your work legally for many purposes without asking your further permission.

(2) Always publish in open access journals as your highest priority. When asked to referee a paper or serve on the editorial board for an open access journal, accept the invitation. When asked to referee a paper or serve on the editorial board for a toll-access journal, consider declining and explaining why.

(3) Seventy percent of all academic journals now allow authors to post a copy of the final refereed article on a personal website or in a non-commercial institutional repository. Always publish in these academic journals as the next highest priority. Then take advantage of the journal's permission to deposit the final version of your article in the UMaine repository with its accompanying cataloging and long-term preservation benefits. (Before the UMaine repository is up and running, post the final version of your article to your personal web site.)

(4) In journals that don't follow the above approaches, always ask to retain copyright and transfer only the right of first print and electronic publication. If the journal refuses, then ask to retain the right to deposit the final refereed version of your article in an open-access repository. Some but not all publishers will eventually cede to your persistent requests.

(5) If publishing in an open access journal or a journal that allows personal or institutional posting is impossible, deposit your scholarly work in an electronic institutional or discipline depository prior to submitting it so that at least pre-prints are openly available. At the very least, place your preprint on your own web site and maintain it as an accessible link.

(6) Teaching materials: Assign only supplemental readings that are openly available on the web. Make your own class syllabi, class slides, lecture notes, reading and homework assignments, tutorial materials, textbooks, and audio and video recordings of class sessions available on the open web.

Potential Actions by University Campuses or the System

(1) Clearly redefine the mission statements of the University of Maine and the University of Maine System to stress that our core institutional missions are to:
* advance knowledge and educate students in areas of scholarship that will best serve the nation and the world in the 21st century,
* commit our universities to generating, disseminating, and preserving knowledge, and
* work with others to bring this knowledge to bear on the world's great challenges.
(The current mission statement of the University of Maine may be found at while a mission statement for the University of Maine System is not readily apparent.)

(2) Create a library-based digital repository in support of the core missions for the creative scholarly output of faculty, researchers and students that provides expanded accessibility and long-term preservation. (Institutional Repository)

(3) Use the Internet to provide access to the primary materials of university teaching and scholarship to students, faculty, staff and other learners anywhere in the world, at any time, for free. (Open Course Ware Website - Use should be optional by faculty but such use should be encouraged institutionally).

(4) Create an institutional policy that ensures that copyright clearly resides with creators and encourages those creators to place their works in the public domain or open access licensing environments. (Already accomplished for UMS although updating of the language of the policy would be appropriate. See Appendix A below)

(5) Change the reporting systems of the University of Maine System campuses to provide incentives for all scholars to make their works more globally available. This might be done by systematically changing all applications for promotion and tenure and all applications for teaching, research, public service and other honorary awards so that:
- such applications must be submitted electronically, and
- application instructions should be revised to always ask for the active url where any listed journal article, conference article, advised thesis, teaching materials, and similar scholarly products may be openly read by any internal or external reviewer.

(6) Go further - Pass a formal university policy stating that publications that are not legally available within an openly accessible archive within six months of publication
- shall be deemed by the university to be of lesser value due to their limited availability and
- shall be listed as such on all applications for promotion and tenure and all applications for teaching, research, public service and other honorary awards. (See Appendix B below).

(7) Help professors and students to overcome publisher copyright release demands by providing an official university policy statement that may be attached and made a part of all submissions to publication outlets. (e.g. SPARC statement)

(8) Help enable professors and researchers to make their works more globally available by providing a range of opportunities (short-courses, forums, workshops) within the normal offerings of the university that show those that need help how to create open access licenses and how to place articles, datasets, theses and teaching materials into long-term institutional or disciplinary depositories including the completion of cataloging information or metadata when appropriate. Alternatively, provide an open access licensing, cataloging and archiving service for the scholarly products of the university.

For further suggested actions that individual faculty or academic institutions might consider, see

Appendix A

University of Maine System Policy Manual, Section 209 Intellectual Property
UMS Full Statement of Policy Governing Patents and Copyrights 2/22/02
" It is the policy of the University that all rights in Copyrightable Works shall remain with the author(s) and creator(s) unless: …" (narrowly proscribed exceptions) - most materials created in the normal course of teaching and scholarly work are presumed under the ownership control of the creator
The policy also encourages authors and creators to apply the University of Maine Broad Application Copyleft License (currently identical to "Design Science License")

Appendix B
Applications for promotion, tenure and awards might be rewritten to require documentation in line with the following example. The first three classes of scholarship are in a long-term archive, openly available to the world and therefore are presumptively of greater value to society than those items listed in the next three classes.

Example: Please list your scholarly publications in each of the following categories.
(1) Open Archival Peer Reviewed Publications
- citation / url / journal citation index rating or acceptance rate of submissions
(2) Open Archival Books
- citation / url
(3) Open Archival Conference Proceedings
- citation / url / acceptance rate of abstract submissions
(4) Other Peer Reviewed Publications
- citation / access controlled url / journal citation index rating or acceptance rate of submissions
(5) Other Books
- citation / access controlled url if available
(6) Other Conference Proceedings
- citation / access controlled url if available / acceptance rate of abstract submissions