CUP Reverses Its Decision to Censor China Articles (Updated)

by Kevin Jon Heller

Here is CUP’s statement:

Kudos to CUP for doing the right thing. And kudos to everyone — including Jan Klabbers — who took a public stand against CUP’s capitulation to Chinese pressure.

UPDATE: True to form, China is now censoring news of CUP’s decision not to censor!

One Response

  1. I tried to post this yesterday on Jan Klabbers’ post, but it didn’t show up, so here’s a re-post FWIW —
    it’s just an explanation of something previously suggested elsewhere, in any event.

    1. I agree that CUP should not back down to censorship, and this is a good result.

    2. I don’t know all the facts, but to my understanding, China may still be able to block access to the articles even without CUP’s cooperation. It’s also my assumption that when CUP’s database is operating normally, it is subject to institutional access restrictions (or its articles are available for individual purchase only).

    3. If that’s correct, it might be useful to see author agreements revised to reflect the *prospect* of blocking, certainly if it is by any publisher’s deal with authorities and perhaps otherwise. The idea is to diminish the attractiveness of blocking in the first place. . . kind of like a poison pill.

    If authors had a provision in their agreements indicating that, should the publisher ever agree to block access (without implying approval of that), the author would have the right to post and provide open access to the published article (as published, so above and beyond preliminary versions), the existence of that provision might undermine the value to government authorities in seeking database blocking, and could be used as a talking point by publishers in resisting pressure. Authorities would confront the prospect that the article would thereby be liberated and even more easily accessed than before, because it would no longer be subject to the usual database gating and would be available from many other sites.

    Because one downside is that — if that worked — it might make authorities more inclined to block themselves, without even seeking an agreement, it might be better yet if the publisher also agreed that the author’s work could also become open access upon indications that it was being blocked even without the publisher’s consent.

    I don’t this mechanism, properly cabined, should be regarded as capitulating to blocking in any way, but that’s a fair objection that’s been made and which should be considered. It would remain appropriate to object to cooperation by publishers with censorship should that occur.

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