All PLoS articles are published under the Creative Commons CC-BY License, a license that permits “unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.”
The issue with the two offending journals wasn’t that they republished PLoS articles — this is permitted under CC-BY — but that they did so without attribution.
Comments expressed by those who had been republished cite more concern than just republication of their work. It is not necessary to get approval from the copyright holder to reuse, remix, or republish (commercially or non-commercially) a CC-BY article. Clearly the designation of one’s work — the journal in which the article appears — is a concern, even for those who publish with PLoS.
“That is distressing, because we’ve never submitted an article to Science Reuters,” said Mark Johnson, an associate professor at Brown University. “I’m not even aware that Science Reuters is a journal.”
To me, the concerns of the authors have nothing to do with open access publishing but about the concern academics have over the context and designation of their work. If authors are willing (or required) to publish under the CC-BY license, they should not be surprised when their work shows up in surprising places.
The recent Taylor & Francis open access survey of authors reveals their general hesitancy toward the CC-BY license, with most respondents selecting the most restrictive exclusive license to publish as their top choice, followed by an open access license that puts severe constraints on how the content is used.
If open access is to be embraced by the broader academic community, is free access sufficient? Or does it necessarily have to mean completely unrestricted usage?