NISO Recommended Practice (RP) on Access License and Indicators released. This provides guidance on using metadata to indicate read access and re-use of articles, or any e-learning content.
Why is this important?
Because readers and automatic aggregators of free to read content have trouble navigating this content and understanding what they can do with it in a patchwork ecosystem of different access models governed by an assortment of licensing practices. Along with philosophical debates about open access that are practical difficulties with implementing competing ideas.
- Good cross-section of representation from Access License and Indicators Working Group
- Aiming for both human and machine readable indicators
- Two key indicators: whether the work is free to read and how it can be re-used.
- free_to_read. Avoiding using the term open access instead this indicates simply if the article is free to read on the web. Free to read means available without payment or registration. Start and end dates can be added to delimit a free to read period.
- license_reference Re-use will be specified by referencing licenses in force and applicable dates if relevant not by specifying rights within this metadata element. This is essentially a pointer to all the relevant licenses in force.
- License references are stable (not necessarily persistent but ideally long-term) URIs to publicly accessible web resources.
- Multiple licenses with different in force periods can be used. In force periods can be added to license references by using start dates but not end dates.
- No icon or visual element for the free_to_read element.
- Practice aims not to be proscriptive but to encourage consistency and convergence.
- Addresses multiple scholarship use cases fully though only partially helps with text mining, rights assertion alignment with licenses and compliance use cases.
- Means of expressing metadata element examples provided for XML, PDF using XMP, RDF and JSON.
- Seems like this is a good idea and an attempt to create a lightweight standard for specifying access and licenses for open or hybrid content.
- The use of superseding license references may be potentially confusing particularly as only start dates can be added. Will it be sufficiently clear where licenses supersede others or will it read like both are in force and there is no metadata?
- Slightly disappointing it leaves visual presentation for humans to each site. This kind of leeway still leaves much potential for confusion. Some visual guidelines could have been developed with sufficient design choices for sites and systems to fit their users and style guides. This would’ve provided some consistency as well as choice. The rationale for this is there are already many visual indicators available for this so it wasn’t necessary or desirable to add further complementary badges. Isn’t the point of standards though to reduce the many to the few?
The Big Question
- Will consistency and convergence come from usage as hoped or is this metadata just going to pay forward access confusion during the discovery to delivery process?