Study  |  02/04/2022

Does Copyright in the Academic Sector Need to be Redefined?

In a new comparative study, Valentina Moscon and Marco Bellia examine the copyright regulations for academic publishing in Italy, Germany and the USA. In their work, they introduce well-known approaches and arrive at a proposal to make the scientific publication system fairer and more efficient.

A long-running discussion about copyright in academic publishing has shown the role of copyright and its dysfunctional effects.

The interests of commercial publishers and other information providers differ from those of academic authors, with the former usually pursuing a strategy of profit maximization, while the latter want to ensure broad access, open and timely dissemination, and reuse of scientific results. Moreover, third parties usually fund research, so academic authors do not primarily rely on income from publications – researchers publish primarily to enhance their reputation and advance their careers.

In this context, the contribution by Valentina Moscon (Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition) and Marco Bellia (Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore) draws attention to new models that promise a fairer and more efficient scholarly publishing system. After reviewing the legal background in Italy, Germany, and the United States, the authors consider various possible interventions, some of which have already been adopted at the national level. These measures may be private interventions, such as university contracts and policies, or public, i.e., legislative interventions. The latter include measures outside or inside the copyright system.

“International Instrument” as a model for a fair solution

The authors conclude that the best solution is to redefine the boundaries of copyright by broadening the scope of permitted uses while defining them more precisely. This would lead to a more balanced functioning of the academic publishing system. One proposal in this direction comes from a group of copyright experts, including Valentina Moscon, who have drafted the International Instrument on Permitted Uses in Copyright Law. This instrument, conceived in the form of an international treaty, aims to create a more balanced system for the scope of international copyright protection. Among other provisions, it contains explicit rules for permissible uses in academia, including uses in the context of research, data analysis, educational purposes, and for the processing of works by libraries, museums, and archives.

To the publication:

Marco Bellia, Valentina Moscon
Academic Authors, Copyright and Dissemination of Knowledge: A Comparative Overview
Max Planck Institute for Innovation & Competition Research Paper No. 21-27