A post on the Creative Commons blog draws together four articles on the value of Creative Commons licensing for newspapers, scientists, film students, and Wikipedia “SEOers” respectively. All are worth reading, but it is the article on scientists that is of most interest here. This article, posted at ScienceBlogs on 1st May by Rob Knop makes the case that:
Scientists do not need, and indeed should not have, exclusive (or any) control over who can copy their papers, and who can make derivative works of their papers.
The very progress of science is based on derivative works! It is absolutely essential that somebody else who attempts to reproduce your experiment be able to publish results that you don’t like if those are the results they have. Standard copyright, however, gives the copyright holders of a paper at least a plausible legal basis on which to challenge the publication of a paper that attempts to reproduce the results— clearly a derivative work!
I would extend this argument (and indeed have done so repeatedly and vocally) to assert that this applies to equally to all academic research, including the Humanties. This is a key part of the philosophy behind the Open Source Critical Editions network that I helped convene last year. All published research includes the requirement to publish the “source code” (by way of citations, arguments, primary and secondary references, retraceable argumentation), and the expectation that others will use this “source” to verify, reproduce, modify, or refute your work. Copyright, and especially digital copyright and crippleware, should not be allowed to get in the way of this process because without this freedom a publication can not be considered research.