Collective action models in open access publishing

Nicolas Suzor (@nicsuzor)
<[email protected]>
QUT School of Law
ARC Centre of Excellence for
Creative Industries and Innovation (CCI).
CC BY-SA 4.0
Kyrillidou & Morris, ARL Statistics 2008-2009 15 (2010).

The problem is worse with monographs

  • The average print run is about 300 copies.
  • The average price is $96.
  • It is extremely difficult for academics in the humanities and social sciences to publish (and secure tenure & promotions).

Collective action and peaceful revolutions

Beyond OA mandates - two case studies


SCOAP3 has now raised €10M

  • The first round of publisher tenders (2014-16) has been completed.
  • Average fee of $1550 per article.
  • One major publisher not included (currently charges $2700 per article)
  • Publishers will decrease costs of their bundles accordingly

Can it work elsewhere?

Physicists are special...

CERN is really good at international collaboration...

Knowledge Unlatched

  • A global consortium of 30 academic publishers and 400+ university libraries.
  • Attempting to develop a sustainable model to fund and coordinate the production of open access academic monographs.

How it works

  1. Publishers nominate titles
  2. Individual libraries select books
  3. When enough money has been raised, publishers release an OA e-book
  4. Publishers will remain free to sell print copies and premium digital versions to the rest of the market on their own terms.


  1. For now, it's an experiment...
  2. Libraries get e-book titles cheaper and a discount on physical copies (How much? What terms are ebooks available under?)
  3. Institutions retain the prestige of established publishers.
  4. Publishers shift risk on new titles.
  5. HASS authors may find it easier to publish?

Ostrom demonstrated that not all commons end in tragedy...

I want to be a Swiss cow in my next life..., Sr. Fernandez, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Institutional Analysis and Development framework

IAD for Constructed Cultural Commons, Madison et al, 2010

Access without exclusivity?

Erik Desmazières, illustration for Borges, Library of Babel.

Are there any generalisable principles across the creative industries?

When are users not rational free-riders?

MXSF07 Day Two (Homo Economicus)

MXSF07 Day Two (Homo Economicus) by tastybit (CC BY-SA)

When can collective action fairly and sustainably coordinate and fund cultural production without exclusivity?

A research agenda:

Nicolas Suzor, Access, progress, and fairness: rethinking exclusivity in copyright
15 Vand. J. Ent. & Tech. L. 297 (2013) (PDF).