Sorry, did you say ruler 7?Rule 7 is something I long learned at LARP events – in essence it is “don’t take the piss” – it’s there to remind us all that while there’s the letter of the law in the rules there’s a fair amount of grey around the edge, but there are limits.  It encourages creative play and gaming that might not be strictly within the defined rules, but aren’t strictly against them either.  Of course there’s always people who push the envelope too far and, in essence, cheat.  They annoy us players of the game for giving us all a bad name, and they annoy the Refs who are there to ensure that everyone has a good time.

It’s long been a rule I use to govern my own management style.  Sure there’s the rules and then there are the RULES.  So long as everyone stays within in the rules (the odd late arrival, the odd bit of flexibility over hours and the like) I’m fine and dandy.  But push it too far, and brother I’ll invoke Rule 7!

It’s occurred to me today that in the world of open access, in which I’ve been working for the past half decade, Rule 7 appears to be ever more in danger of being in breach.  A lot of open access is based in those grey areas of interpreting of the rules where not 100% strict guidance lies.  Where we have doubts we approach publishers for clarification.  of late though more and more publishers seem to be breaking Rule 7 – take the following examples from myself and other repository staff.

  • You may deposit the chapter in the repository, so long as it is not downloadable

Not quite sure this publisher understands how the internet works!

  • You may deposit the item within the repository…(page later)…provided the deposit is simply a link to our site.

Erm, again a link isn’t a deposit.  Do people really think we’d ask for permission to link (recent discussions on some mailing lists to the contrary)

  • You may deposit the item, provided it may not be downloaded or printed.

Again not quite sure how the publisher thinks the internet works – to access a page one has to download a copy of the data no matter how brief a time it resides on your PC.

And all this got me thinking – are publishers deciding to breach Rule 7? Are they trying to simply make it so difficult for us in the open access world (more so than their confusing and often contradictory rights and licenses are already) that they can no longer give a straight answer to a straight question?  Are they sitting in their gold plated towers chuckling to themselves each time they send out a non-sequitur response to a poor hard working (and drastically underpaid) repository manager?

With even the “open access friendly” publishers like Elsevier revising their rules on open access deposit to a conflicting and confusing degree, it seems my job and that of repository managers across the world is just getting harder.  Perhaps it’s time we started breaking Rule 7 ourselves…but i suspect the publishers wouldn’t like it any more than we do.

Money tree!In other news, thanks to those few people whom have sent me suggestions for library money savers.  I still need LOTS of ideas, so keep them coming! Cheers


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