Diminishing the perceived need for black open access
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The attention garnered by unauthorized sharing and pirating of scholarly content has resulted in a new category on the open access spectrum – black open access. Though black open access attempts to solve the discovery problem inherent in the multitude of open access content sources, it does so in violation of copyright law. Tools have now been developed to combat this same problem legally, including the Open Access Button and Unpaywall.
Librarians can engage in several strategies to help diminish the need for black open access, including the promotion of these discovery tools through education and services. We can share the tools with our users and teach them why they should not engage in unauthorized sharing. We can use the tools to fulfill requests and capture the benefits of open access in interlibrary loan. There are also more general strategies related to infrastructure, policy, and education that are important to acknowledge. Librarians can and must move the open access conversation forward in a positive, and legal, direction.
This paper provides an overview of the black open access landscape, discusses the discovery tools for uncovering legal open access content, and highlights how librarians can improve systems, services, and education efforts related to open access and open access discovery tools.