MIT Adopts an Open-Access PolicyThursday, March 19th, 2009 by Hal Abelson
A few hours ago, the MIT faculty adopted a resolution that makes our scholarly articles freely and openly available to the entire world, though the MIT DSpace Institutional Repository. The policy applies to all of MIT:
Passed by Unanimous Vote of the Faculty, March 18, 2009
The Faculty of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is committed to disseminating the fruits of its research and scholarship as widely as possible. In keeping with that commitment, the Faculty adopts the following policy: Each Faculty member grants to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology nonexclusive permission to make available his or her scholarly articles and to exercise the copyright in those articles for the purpose of open dissemination. In legal terms, each Faculty member grants to MIT a nonexclusive, irrevocable, paid-up, worldwide license to exercise any and all rights under copyright relating to each of his or her scholarly articles, in any medium, provided that the articles are not sold for a profit, and to authorize others to do the same. The policy will apply to all scholarly articles written while the person is a member of the Faculty except for any articles completed before the adoption of this policy and any articles for which the Faculty member entered into an incompatible licensing or assignment agreement before the adoption of this policy. The Provost or Provost’s designate will waive application of the policy for a particular article upon written notification by the author, who informs MIT of the reason.
To assist the Institute in distributing the scholarly articles, as of the date of publication, each Faculty member will make available an electronic copy of his or her final version of the article at no charge to a designated representative of the Provost’s Office in appropriate formats (such as PDF) specified by the Provost’s Office.
The Provost’s Office will make the scholarly article available to the public in an open- access repository. The Office of the Provost, in consultation with the Faculty Committee on the Library System will be responsible for interpreting this policy, resolving disputes concerning its interpretation and application, and recommending changes to the Faculty.
The policy is to take effect immediately; it will be reviewed after five years by the Faculty Policy Committee, with a report presented to the Faculty.
The Faculty calls upon the Faculty Committee on the Library System to develop and monitor a plan for a service or mechanism that would render compliance with the policy as convenient for the faculty as possible.
I chaired the committee that drafted the resolution and led faculty discussions on it throughout the fall. So I’m particularly gratified that the vote was unanimously in favor. In the words of MIT Faculty Chair Bish Sanyal, the vote is ‚Äúa signal to the world that we speak in a unified voice; that what we value is the free flow of ideas.”
Our resolution was closely modeled on similar ones passed last February by Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences and by the Harvard Law School, also passed by unanimous vote. Stanford’s School of Education did the same, as did Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government just last Monday.
Harry blogged last month about the execrable “Fair Copyright in Research Act” introduced by Rep. Conyers of Michigan, which would repeal the National Institute of Health mandate on open-access publishing and forbid government agencies from imposing similar mandates. This act is harmful to the progress of science and should be scuttled. Now that there are unanimous votes supporting open access by faculty at world-leading institutions, Rep. Conyers should recognize what everyone else does, and deflate his ill-conceived trial balloon.