1: Introduction 

Technology has always been the cause of significant changes in society. As natural as its constant advancement is the resistance to such innovation when two cultures meet. A symbolic example is Plato, Socratis and the Problem of Writing in 370 BCE. Although Socratis “was reticent to this new technology” (Murphy, 2020), written words became a precious element and, until the 15th century, books were rare and exclusively accessed by wealthy people due to its high cost. (McCarron, 2020). 

Thanks to the advent of the printing press and its mechanized print on grand scale, this scenario changed and again two cultures met. (Murphy, 2020). What Johannes Gutember created was a double innovation which not only included the printing press mechanism itself, but also the moveable type. The accurate measurement of printing press impact is almost unfeasible, as much what happened after the 15th century is in different degrees associated with the printing press. But shortly, it provided uniformity, which increased the reliability of the materials published and also cheapened printed production, facilitating the spread of books and consequently, ideas. (MacCarron, 2020)

Peter L. Shillingsburg makes an interesting comparison between the invention of the printing press and the Web: “What Gutenberg did to democratize books and other texts, the World Wide Web has done to democratize information.” (L. Shillingsburg, 2006). It also means we are in another stage of change in Publishing because of the Web, probably the most important transformation since Gutenberg. With the Web everyone became publishers in certain ways and everything can be published without validation or verification. At the same time it allows amatures to break into the industry, simply be creative and have an audience (TEDx Talks, 2015), it also raises quality and reliability concerns, as Peter L. Shillingsburg approaches it: “With so many options, it is difficult to distinguish between information and disinformation, between reliable information and rumors” (L. Shillingsburg, 2006). 

It is in this scenario of transformation and disintermediation that two cultures again have collided, emerging the debate and fear about the capability of Digital Technologies entirely replacing books. While the narrative of the death of a medium has been repeatedly used when a new media threats the existence of another (Ballatore and Natale, 2016), after three decades that the World Wide Web was created, books still present in our lives and “digital media have occasionally raised demand for paper, rather than leading to its disappearance” (Ballatore and Natale, 2016). However, more recent and realistic discussions approach the interaction between writers, readers and the publishing industry with the digital transformations, and the means they are reshaping print and digital publications. (Ballatore and Natale, 2016). 

In conclusion, publishing has always changed, the progress points to democratization and openness, but it is important to reflect whether we are effectively going towards this direction or if the surface is the only change.

2: The Role of an Editor

Publishing is the process through which we give voice to ideas (O’Sullivan et al., 2017), it is what builds the connection within the community and with the public. The process of sharing a written work is composed of three stages. The first is the information or the work itself, the second is the transmission or the means on how the work will be made available to the public, and finally is the interpretation or how people will receive the information transmitted and engage with it. (MacCarron, 2020).

The digital environment has provided new forms of disseminating ideas and new formats has led to exciting and innovative scholarly publishing projects (O’Sullivan et al., 2017). There are now fewer barriers and more opportunities to connect and engage with the public. However, there are important challenges which must be considered and appropriately addressed, so we as society can maximize the benefits of sharing and therefore enrich scholarship by protecting the core values of the discipline. As James O’Sullivan states it: 

“How to cultivate the thickening of collegiality in a digital environment that often seems to reward the snarky witticism over the thoughtful, well-formulated critique that pushes the work to new, more interesting, and richer depths.” (O’Sullivan et al., 2017)

The concept of Thick Collegiality can be better explained through the analysis of three elements: Empathy in trying to understand each other’s position; Generosity in sharing knowledge, insights and ideas with the purpose of enriching the discussion; and Transformation that is to participate in a positive way in order to transform the community. (MacCarron, 2020). All these are essential to maintain the core values of scholarly communication in the digital age. (O’Sullivan et al., 2017)

The digital platforms we have available nowadays have improved the possibilities on how students, scholars, and practitioners engage in arts and humanities research, how they connect and communicate, and also the way that dissemination of written work occurs to the audience (O’Sullivan et al., 2017). The social element is reshaping scholarly communities, as James O’Sullivan reminds us: “Social media are not just venues for promotion; they are the instruments that have allowed a community to emerge.”(et al., 2017). 

In this same context materializes the concept of “Open Access”, a movement that has “fast becoming the defining trait of scholarly transmission.” (O’Sullivan et al., 2017). The exercise of sharing is primarily an opportunity to enhance community and build knowledge, and it is what makes ideas valuable. So “when we speak of openness, it is not just a case of liberating publications of economic barriers, it is about sharing.” (O’Sullivan et al., 2017). 

Although sometimes imperceptible, editorial work is present in the three steps of sharing a written work: information, transmission and interpretation, whether executed by the author or by a third party. While the changes mentioned are in course, editors have played an important role in guaranteeing that the information is presented clearly and ideas transmitted precisely without noise regardless of the medium.

3 – Copyright & Licensing

In order to understand the current issues and debates around Copyright & Licensing in the digital world, it is important to analyse the context which define some lines of thought. Digital culture was built upon the concept of free information and democratization of access to knowledge. In terms of content production, in the 19th century we moved from a read-write to a read only culture, but the advent of the Web is seen as an opportunity to revive the read-write culture (Lessig, 2007), which means we all have the tools to become producers, creators and writers.

Hence, digital technologies and the culture incited by it have challenged the pre-existing structure of Copyright and Licensing. One important point is that, Copyright laws regulate copies and in the digital environment every use of culture produces a copy, so each of them requires permission (Lessig, 2007). At the same time technology has undermined intellectual property in certain ways, the discussions about it have increasingly grown over the past 20 or 30 years (Colin Manning, 2017). Although the environment has changed, Intellectual property is still extremely important as it is the protection of the law and consequently the recognition of ownership from society that gives certainty and encourages people to share (Colin Manning, 2017), and therefore it is what enhances knowledge. In other words, “the ultimate end of granting private property rights is to expand the public domain; rewarding authors and inventors is just a means to that end” (Wharton, 2013). 

Fair use or Fair dealing, how it is called in Ireland, allows the use of a work for research or studies purposes without the need of permission from the author (“Frequently Asked Questions « Copyright Association of Ireland,” n.d.). This is extremely important in Academia as, in theory, it provides access to resources freely. However, in practical terms, the digitalization of scholarship did not democratize access to information completely once institutions, such as JSTOR, have monetized the access to knowledge. The documentary “The Internet’s Own Boy” explores this issue through the sad history of hacktivism and institutionalized control that ends with a loss to humanity. Aaron Swartz was ahead of his time and his liberal ideas conflicted with the restrictions imposed by government and institutions. Lawrence Lessig in his book The Future of Ideas says that this control is a result of “ideas we take for granted”, in this case specifically the idea that “the whole world is best managed when divided among private owners”. (Lessig, 2002)

The Open Access Movement emerges as a step towards the web idealized by Tim Berners-Lee, Aaron Swartz and Lawrence as well: 

“Open access is a publishing model for scholarly communication that makes research information available to readers at no cost, as opposed to the traditional subscription model in which readers have access to scholarly information by paying a subscription (usually via libraries).” (“What is open access?,” n.d.)

It becomes important to create a method to enable the easy distinction between what can and what can not be used without permission, and Creative Commons License plays an important role here, as Lessig explain in an interview to Core Education, it provides firstly a clear understanding about who is entitled to do what and secondly the possibility to educate students on finding, and using material that have been previously authorized to be reused (Core Education, 2011). 


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