Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Friday, June 13, 2003

Matthew Rimmer, The dead poets society: The copyright term and the public domain, First Monday, June 2003. Abstract: "In a victory for corporate control of cultural heritage, the Supreme Court of the United States has rejected a constitutional challenge to the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act 1998 (U.S.) by a majority of seven to two. This paper evaluates the litigation in terms of policy debate in a number of discourses --history, intellectual property law, constitutional law and freedom of speech, cultural heritage, economics and competition policy, and international trade. It argues that the extension of the copyright term will inhibit the dissemination of cultural works through the use of new technologies --such as Eric Eldred's Eldritch Press and Project Gutenberg. It concludes that there is a need to resist the attempts of copyright owners to establish the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act 1998 (U.S.) as an international model for other jurisdictions --such as Australia."

Some of the presentations from the workshop, Peer Review in the Age of Open Archives (Trieste, May 23-24), are now online.

Thursday, June 12, 2003

Pamela Samuelson, Mapping the Public Domain: Threats and Opportunities, Law and Contemporary Problems, 147 (Winter/Spring 2003) pp. 147ff. Excerpt: "Whether the public domain is a virtual wasteland of undeserving detritus or the font of all new creation is the subject of some debate. Those who adhere to the former perspective do not worry about "threats" to this domain any more than they would worry about scavengers who go to garbage dumps to look for abandoned property. Adherents of the latter view, interestingly enough, are not of one mind about "threats" to this domain. Some believe that propertizing value residing in the public domain will produce more social benefit than letting content languish there, while others regard propertization itself as the main threat to the public domain. At the risk of seeming a contrarian, I concur with all three views: some of what is in the public domain is detritus; some of what is valuable in the public domain might be better utilized if propertized to some degree; other parts of the public domain need to remain open and unownable as sources for future creations. In the course of explaining why I embrace this seemingly contradictory perspective, I will offer a map of the public domain. This map is a useful prelude to a discussion of possible impacts of various legal and policy developments affecting the digital public domain. Some initiatives would have adverse effects on the digital public domain, while others may not. This article will identify a number of threats to the public domain that deserve attention. It will also celebrate contributions that digitalization and digital networks have made in extending the public domain and enabling projects to preserve the digital commons. In some respects, digital information and digital networks have made the public domain more vibrant and robust, and if various digital commons initiatives attain their goals, the public domain may flourish as never before." (Thanks to Current Cites.)

More on Lawrence Lessig's petition to reclaim the public domain....Paul Festa interviews Lessig about it in the June 6 Excerpt:

[Festa] Tell me why this is an Internet problem. Why should the tech industry care about this, particularly?

[Lessig] This is an extremely important issue for people to get. Before the Internet, long copyright terms sometimes didn't matter. What were you going to do with a book that was out of print before the Internet? How were you going to republish it? Now that we have the Internet, we can imagine taking an extraordinary amount of knowledge and culture and making it available on the Internet so that it can be provided for free to schools, to libraries, to other creators. This is a possibility that didn't exist when Congress originally abolished the requirement that you had to renew your copyright, in 1976. They did that because they thought it was an unnecessary burden, and there was not so much benefit in letting work pass into the public domain. The Internet has now made the public domain a million times more valuable. So we have a chance to restore the material--if you don't have to get the permission. And we want Congress to reconsider what they've done in light of the potential that the Internet creates.

Sign the petition and spread the word.

More on the NLM standardized DTD's....Scott Carlson describes the initiative in the June 12 Chronicle of Higher Education. Excerpt: "By adopting [the NLM] formats, scholars, librarians, and journal publishers could more easily transfer the files to different types of archives, or recreate the articles in new journals. The library's new formats are based in XML, a Web-programming language....The [NLM] formats are free for public use, although nothing compels publishers to use them." For more details, see the NLM/NCBI site, Archiving and Interchange DTD.

The Feb-May issue of the DPC/PADI What's New in Digital Preservation is now online. Section 3.2 (no deep link) is devoted to "e-Science and the preservation of scientific data".

I just ran across another open-source package for building OAI-compliant eprint repositories: Rapid Visual OAI Tool (RVOT), from the Old Dominion University Digital Library Group. From the web site: "Rapid Visual OAI Tool (RVOT) can be used to graphically construct a OAI-PMH repository from a collection of files. The records in the original collection can be in any one of the acceptable format. The format currently supported are RFC1807, Marc subset & COSATI formats. RVOT helps to define the mapping visually from a native format to oai_dc format, and once this is done the tool can respond to OAI-PMH requests. The tool is self-contained; it comes with a lightweight http server and OAI-PMH request handler and is written in Java. The design of RVOT is such that it can be easily extended to support other metadata formats." I can't tell when it was launched. RVOT runs on Windows 2000/NT/XP, Linux, and Unix. The other three open-source packages for building OAI-compliant archives are Eprints (Southampton), DSpace (MIT), and CDSWare (CERN).

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

John Willinsky, Scholarly Associations and the Economic Viability of Open Access Publishing, Journal of Digital Information, 4, 2 (April 2003). Abstract: "The paper considers a number of economic issues that scholarly associations are confronting in moving their journals online, with a focus on the possible viability of an open access or free-to-read format. It explores the current content overlap between subscription-based and open access sources, and considers how these redundancies favor open access publishing and indexing. It utilizes the tax returns for 20 US non-profit scholarly associations to analyze current publishing revenues against costs, arguing that the associations could make up the loss of revenue posed by the open access publishing model through cost savings and other revenue sources, while serving their membership better through the increased readership in an era of declining subscriptions. While the decision to publish journals in an open access format is by no means simply an economic one, the viability of open access publishing warrants serious consideration by scholarly associations that are currently determining what this new medium may mean for the circulation of knowledge."

On his last day in office as Director of the OMB, Mitch Daniels gave up on his attempt to let federal agencies outsource their printing jobs and bypass the Government Printing Office (GPO). This is a victory for open access to government documents, since many agencies wanted to bypass the GPO precisely in order to bypass its open-access and library deposit policies. More coverage.

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

The Open Knowledge Initiative (OKI) has released its first batch of open-source Open Service Interface Definitions (OSIDs). Quoting the press release: "These interoperability specifications have been designed to support infrastructure level interoperability for a wide variety of enterprise applications, particularly educational software and learning management systems. The Open Service Interface Definitions (OSIDs), released today as 1.0 Release Candidate 4, include services referred to as Common Services, and specifically define how educational software may access various elements of enterprise infrastructure. This release includes the following services: Authentication, Authorization, Filing, DBC, SQL, Logging, Dictionary, Hierarchy, and Shared."

In a June 2 posting I announced the Council of Europe's new Declaration on Freedom of Communication on the Internet. But at the time I could only find news stories, not the declaration itself. Now I've found the Council's full-text declaration, press release, and accompanying recommendation to member states on how to protect media freedoms in the digital age.

Today the National Library of Medicine announced a freely available standard content model for the electronic archiving and publishing of journal articles. Quoting David Lipman, Director of the NCBI: The electronic files of online journal articles "are created to meet the needs of the Internet --usually without much thought given to long-term archiving of the content. Today we release two Document Type Definitions (DTDs) that will simplify journal publishing and increase the accuracy of the archiving and exchange of scholarly journal articles." (Thanks to ResourceShelf.)

I'm very glad to report that our RSS feed is working again, after being down since early May. Many thanks to Mark Pilgrim for fixing the problem. Our RSS feed now has a new URL. However, if you're subscribed under the old URL, you needn't change. A redirect will point you to the new URL and keep you in the loop.

Many of the papers from the Digital Objects Repository Management Forum, Veterinary Science Conference Centre, University of Sydney, 29 and 30 May 2003 have been loaded to the web site. Mostly Powerpoint files are available. (Reported to the Ozeprints discussion group by Belinda Weaver.)