Copyright Considerations in Scientific Research

by | Jun 23, 2020

Copyright Considerations in Scientific Research

This Guest Post comes from Kerri Mattaliano, Director, Corporate Product Solutions, Copyright Clearance Center.

The ability to seek, discover, access, and collaborate using scientific, technical, and medical (STM) articles is vital to evidence-based research such as literature reviews, whether for a leading research organization, regulatory body, government agency, medical device manufacturer, or pharmaceutical company.

Many in these organizations, though, are unaware that much of the published scientific literature, especially journal articles, is protected by copyright law which governs how the information can be reused. Generally, when an article is purchased for download, it is intended only for the use of the individual who purchased it. The organization must then obtain additional copyright permissions from the copyright holder if it intends to provide copies to additional users, such as colleagues, external collaborators or partners, regulatory agencies, or customers. Particularly in smaller companies without a dedicated information management resource, understanding and managing these permissions can prove challenging and lead to common copyright pitfalls such as:

  • Post-doc employees downloading and sharing from academic libraries to which they still have access
  • The use of article-sharing sites such Sci Hub or Research Gate to download articles
  • Employees purchasing digital articles through a third party and storing them in SharePoint for use by project teams

All these actions can potentially open your organization to significant business, legal, and reputational risk. To harness some of these issues, we recommend these best practices for managing copyright compliance in a research-driven organization.

First, create a copyright policy. This is a document that provides guidelines for the reuse of copyrighted materials within your organization and identifies the steps employees should take to determine if copyright permissions are needed and how to request and obtain them.

Second, promote that policy in employee trainings when onboarding new employees and providing refreshers to current employees. It’s not enough to simply create a policy that sits in a drawer. Too often, organizations have a policy, but employees have no idea what the policy entails or where to find it.

Keep your policy front of mind by:

  • Including your copyright policy in onboarding and training programs that are required when employees join the company
  • Creating periodic reminders on your company intranet that the policy exists and where it can be found
  • Sharing information about new copyright laws, regulations, and court decisions
  • Enlisting support from your company to provide enterprise-wide training on issues related to copyright as part of its overall compliance program

The reuse rights included in subscriptions and licenses from individual publishers can vary and leave gaps in your coverage. That’s why it’s important to look at individual rights licenses for content usage from each publisher, and make sure you know the answers to the following questions:

  • Do your licenses offer consistent reuse rights for colleagues to collaborate using published material?
  • Do your licenses enable collaboration using the many different information sources colleagues rely on?
  • Do your licenses support cross-border collaboration using published content?

Third, secure an enterprise-wide copyright license from a reproduction rights organization, which offers additional rights to collaborate within project teams using material from many different rightsholders, to simplify copyright compliance in your research process. Combining this with a content workflow solution can provide easier access to copyrighted content, enhanced visibility into your company’s reuse rights, and shared storage spaces to facilitate compliant cooperation consistent with the company’s subscriptions and licenses, thereby saving time, streamlining compliance, and promoting innovation. By integrating rights, rights information and content workflows, you help take the guesswork out of how your organization’s users may reuse content and promote organization-wide copyright compliance.

DistillerSR and Copyright Clearance Center have joined forces! With the new RightFind integration, DistillerSR users can easily procure and manage copyright-compliant literature from directly inside their DistillerSR accounts.

  • Kerri Mattaliano

    Keri Mattaliano is a Product Solutions Manager for the RightFind Suite in Copyright Clearance Center’s Corporate Business Unit. Keri develops go-to-market strategies, conducts market research and competitive analysis, creates customer personas, and develops product positioning and sales training and tools to drive demand for our products. Keri started with CCC in 2011 and has had roles in customer service, account management and client engagement, including managing the client services team in Cologne, Germany in 2014 & 2015. According to the Master’s degree from Rutgers University that her dad framed, she is a librarian, however, she has never worked in a library.

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