You will find, after a period of seriously heavy blogging recently owing to the Australian Copyright Amendment Bill, this blog will be a lot less active in the next while.

I’m in Melbourne, but preparing for a permanent move to the University of Queensland, site of the excellent ACIPA research centre on IP in January, and in any event, the urgency has gone out of the whole blogging thing now that the Bill is more or less done and dusted. We are all a bit copyrighted and commented and submissioned and discussioned out.

But there’s a couple of interesting things going on: one in open access in Australia, one in copyright in Germany. More over the fold…

First, via Peter Suber – news that the ARC Discovery Grant Rules for funding starting 2008 actually has a statement on open access to outputs from the grants. It’s not a mandate but it does appear to be a slight shift in policy, requiring grantees to explain why material isn’t open access. Peter praises the move, and I think it’s a good thing too – for all kinds of reasons why this is a good idea, I refer you to friend and colleague Andrew Leigh of the ANU, who talks about this a bit. But it’s worth noting that this move by the ARC is a pretty risk-free move – and not a strong one in terms of likely effect, either. The Final Reports submitted by grantees of the ARC are important, but this kind of rule is easy to avoid with a pro-forma comment. A grantee could, in their report to the funder, simply state that it isn’t open access because publication in important journals is being sought. On the other hand, if it makes academics think about making their papers available, that’s probably a good thing, right? So maybe we should see this as an awareness-raising exercise by the ARC. In any event, here’s the statement from the rules:

‘1.4.5. Dissemination of research outputs The Australian Government makes a major investment in research to support its essential role in improving the wellbeing of our society. To maximise the benefits from research, findings need to be disseminated as broadly as possible to allow access by other researchers and the wider community. The ARC acknowledges that researchers take into account a wide range of factors in deciding on the best outlets for publications arising from their research. Such considerations include the status and reputation of a journal or publisher, the peer review process of evaluating their research outputs, access by other stakeholders to their work, the likely impact of their work on users of research and the further dissemination and production of knowledge. Taking heed of these considerations, the ARC wants to ensure the widest possible dissemination of the research supported under its funding, in the most effective manner and at the earliest opportunity. The ARC therefore encourages researchers to consider the benefits of depositing their data and any publications arising from a research project in an appropriate subject and/or institutional repository wherever such a repository is available to the researcher(s). If a researcher is not intending to deposit the data from a project in a repository within a six-month period, he/she should include the reasons in the project’s Final Report. Any research outputs that have been or will be deposited in appropriate repositories should be identified in the Final Report.’

Second, another item worth noting: this from IP Watch on the copyright debate in Germany. Having just gone through a significant copyright debate here in Oz, it’s always interesting to see similar overseas. Actually, this paragraph from the IP Watch report applies to both Germany and Australia. Deja vu, anyone?

During the November hearings, consumer rights organisations, academics and professional organisations of authors and creators heavily criticised a draft proposal as unbalanced.’

And finally – the UK Gowers Report on IP is due out Thursday. Watch blogs like the IPKat for reactions and commentary to this broad-ranging review of the IP system, balance, private copying, the cost of enforcement – all those things we’ve been talking about here in Australia.