Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, June 15, 2002

The W3C has released its XML Conformance Test Suites and made them available free of charge. The 2000+ files in the suites test compliance with nearly every aspect of the XML 1.0 Second Edition standard. This is important to keep the proliferating XML apps interoperable. The suites are based on earlier versions from NIST and OASIS.

Leo Charbonneau, Publishing Freestyle, University Affairs, May 2002. A positive review of FOS developments, especially in Canada. It features interviews with Paul Stortz and Lisa Panayotidis, on their open-access journal History of Intellectual Culture, Mike Sosteric on ICAAP, and Stevan Harnad on self-archiving and the BOAI. In a letter to the editor, Jim Till adds information about Kepler archivelets.

I just fixed several problems with the blog search engine. If you used it without good results in the past, try it again now.

Friday, June 14, 2002

More on the data quality act (DQA). The Mercatus Center at George Mason University has criticized the Environmental Protection Agency for failing to meet the May 1 deadline for writing guidelines to comply with the DQA. (I offered a similar criticism of EPA, and many other federal agencies, in FOSN for 5/6/02.)

The June issue of CLIRinghouse is devoted to start-up, mature, and future digital libraries.

Since last December, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Council) has regarded the cost of publishing research papers as part of the cost of research. In practice this means that recipients of its research grants may request 750 Euro per project per year to defray the costs of publishing their work. It doesn't matter whether they want to publish a monograph, a CD, or an article in a traditional or open-access journal. Try the German text of the policy, or Google's English translation. (Thanks to BioMed Central.)

PS. This is precisely the policy that should be adopted by all organizations that fund research, whether they are foundations, governments, or universities. It allows open-access journals to cover their expenses through fees on incoming articles (paid on behalf of authors by their research grants) so that they needn't charge fees for outgoing articles (paid on behalf of readers by libraries). If you know of other foundations, governments, or universities with this enlightened policy, let me know and I'll start a public list of them.

BioMed Central now offers free TOC alerts, customized to your research interests. Log in (free registration), identify your research interests, check the box for TOC alerts, and choose a frequency for the email alerts.

Ten privacy and civil rights groups from seven European nations have launched European Digital Rights, a new activist organization. "Some examples of regulations and developments that have the attention of European Digital Rights are data retention requirements, telecommunications interception, the cyber-crime treaty, initiatives for rating and filtering of internet content, notice and takedown procedures of websites and fair use restrictions." (Thanks to Red Rock Eater.)

The Open Archives Initiative has released Version 2.0 of the Protocol for Metadata Harvesting. The press release includes a summary of the features new to 2.0.

The California Digital Library has launched the eScholarship Repository, an OAI-compliant archive providing free online access to research papers by University of California faculty. The repository was built with tools from bepress and supports free current awareness.

The proceedings of the Interactive Electronic Publishing Conference (London, May 30-31) are now online.

If publishers don't use readily available software to prevent deep linking, are they giving the world an implied license to deep link? Or is deep linking permissible regardless of the publisher's conduct and desires? Martin Schwimmer in the Trademark Blog takes the former view, and Ernest Miller in LawMeme takes the latter. What do you think?

Ebrary has enlarged its collection of online books by 50% and agreed to distribute the publications and archival works of the Library of Congress, Bancroft Library, Marriott Library, Getty Images, Octavo and It is also making its technology platform available to libraries and other organizations who want to distribute their own material over their own networks. (Ebrary content can be read online free of charge, and only costs money to copy or print.)

I just updated the page of FOS conferences.

GlobalMentor has put 5,000 public-domain books into the Open eBook format and is making them available free of charge through its own bookstore and Project Gutenberg. Here's the press release. (Thanks to Planet eBook.)

Thursday, June 13, 2002

In the April Charlston Advisor Judy Luther reports on the AAP's Society for Scholarly Publishing Top Management Roundtable in February. The focus was on international marketing. "Although putting content on the Web thrusts publishers into broader global markets, to be successful requires that they learn about world economies, new distribution models, and cultural differences." Apparently one new distribution model these top managers never discussed was open access.

Elsevier's ScienceDirect now supports the OpenURL standard for reference linking. (Thanks to the Charlston Advisor.)

George S. Machovec, "Budapest Open Access Initiative," Online Libraries and Microcomputers, Vol. 20 No. 5; p. 1 (May 1, 2002). The article is not free online, so I haven't seen the full text, but Northern Light offers a one paragraph abstract. Machovec is the editor of The Charlston Advisor and director of the Colorado Alliance of Research Libraries, which sponsors the Electronic Journal Miner.

The latest Journal of Digital Information is a special issue devoted to interactivity in digital libraries.

Preservation Metadata and the OAIS Information Model: A Metadata Framework to Support the Preservation of Digital Objects, June 2002, from the OCLC/RLG Working Group on Preservation Metadata. (Thanks to ResourceShelf.)

James H. Sweetland, Migration from Print to Electronic Journals --Not Yet, But Soon, Maybe Good, Maybe Not, Library Link, June 2002. More on priced ejournals than free ejournals, but a good survey of the advantages and concerns.

Because classified research is incompatible with the "open exchange of ideas", a faculty committee at MIT has recommended a policy that all classified research at the university be conducted off campus. (Accessble online only to CHE subscribers.)

Wednesday, June 12, 2002

BioMail is open-source software that searches PubMed and sends users email with citations and links to new work in their areas of interest.

UNESCO is preparing a recommendation to the UN on the Promotion and Use of Multilingualism and Universal Access to Cyberspace. "UNESCO encourages its Member States to adopt an international Recommendation on the implementation of common principles in support to equitable and affordable access to information and to the development of a multicultural information society. The Recommendation proposes measures fostering universal access to digital resources and services for all countries and communities and facilitating the preservation of their cultural and language diversity."

The Library of Congress' Network Development and MARC Standards Office have released their XML schema for MARC 21 records. The schema was developed in collaboration with OCLC and RLG and reviewed by the National Library of Canada and the National Library of Medicine.

Sarah Lai Stirland, Setting online works free doesn't please everyone, Seattle Times, June 10. Programmer Brian Cohen has discovered that "the concept of 'public domain' deeply troubled his prospective customers and users. Their reaction to Cohen's apparent act of generosity was that of a domesticated animal that's suddenly let go: They didn't know what to do with the freedom." (Thanks to C-FIT.)

Tuesday, June 11, 2002

Michael Charlier writes a brief account of the serials pricing crisis and the rise of FOS for the June 11 Frankfurter Rundschau. Try the German or Google's English translation. (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)

Edward Felten's run-in with the DMCA has led him to teach the DMCA in a computer science class (CS 401, co-taught with Barbara Simons at Stanford). You know his story: he accepted an industry challenge to break through some experimental methods of copy protection, received a cease and desist letter when he considered publishing his research, went to court for a declaration that he had a First Amendment right to publish his work, and in the end accepted an assurance that he would not be prosecuted. Since he dropped his appeal, no court is deciding whether the First Amendment protects research into encryption and copy protection, or whether the DMCA prohibits it. Felten and Simons believe that new programmers should know where the hazards are and know the political means to fight them. Quoting Simons: "I really think the [CS] profession is on the front lines. If we lose, one of the things we lose is the freedom to speak out and do research."

Last June, I wrote in FOSN about Peter Veeck, who discovered that the building code for Denison, Texas, was not in the public domain, like other laws, but copyrighted by the private trade association that drafted it. When he put an electronic copy on his web site, he got a cease and desist letter. When he went to federal court for vindication, he lost at both the district and circuit levels. (For more details, see FOSN for 6/25/01.) This week (June 7) Veeck was finally vindicated. The full Fifth Circuit Court of appeals reversed the decision made last year by a panel or subset of its judges. The decision contains an interesting distinction, clearly intended to respect both interests here. The private association drafted a model building code, which it copyrighted and proposed for adoption to any jurisdiction that might like it. The city of Denison adopted it verbatim. Insofar as the words are presented as the law in effect for Denison, they are in the public domain. Insofar as they are presented as the model code proposed by a private organization, they remain protected by the organization's copyright. Peter Veeck presented them only as the town building code, and therefore should not have been stopped. The court believes that this decision will not deter private trade organizations from writing model codes and copyrighting them. If lawful copies are free online, then there may be a loss of revenue from the sale of the codes. But "it is difficult to imagine an area of creative endeavor in which the copyright incentive is needed less". Trade organizations have trade reasons to want to see their policy positions embodied in law. But even if the court is wrong, and this decision does deter trade organizations from writing model codes, the holding for Veeck is still justified. Even if there is a social cost in having fewer model codes to inform legislators, it does not compare to the cost of allowing copyright to interfere with democracy and remove the laws that bind us from the public domain.

Monday, June 10, 2002

François Schiettecatte has enhanced myOAI, his cross-archive search engine for OAI-compliant archives. myOAI will now recommend other documents based on your past searching and retrieval pattern, run metasearches that tally the hits in each included archive, give you the option to group the hits by archive, and show viewed documents in your search history to make it easy scroll back through them.

More on the CBDTPA. Microsoft came out against it in this June 3 position paper. Microsoft is nobody's public policy guru, but it suffers from digital piracy at least as much as the entertainment industry. Microsoft's advice to Hollywood: change your business model ("...invest in digital distribution...") and let us make a software solution that you can license from us.

One week before CIPA was declared unconstitutional, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) began implementing CIPA's Section 1703, which directs it to evaluate whether filtering technology is good enough to meet the needs of schools and libraries. NTIA's web site calls for comments on the adequacy of filtering software to be emailed to before August 27. I suppose the study is now cancelled, even if the call for comments is still online. But I'd be curious to hear from anyone who knows. (Thanks to Elizabeth Winter in Information Today.)

The second edition of the Directory of Current, Ongoing & Open Technology Grants is now out. It's neither free nor online, so look for it in your library. It includes grants in "community and public access, preservation access and digitization" and related areas.

The Ingenta Institute has launched an international study of the impact of consortia site licensing on scholarly communication. (Thanks to Managing Information News.) Ingenta hasn't yet posted anything about this study at its own site.

The Digital Preservation Coalition was born in 2001, officially launched in February 2002, and now (June 4) has officially launched its web site. The site has good depth. See especially its online handbook.

Since last year (May 2001), citizens and non-citizen residents of the European Community have had a right of access to official documents produced by the European Parliament, Council, and Commission. The European Commission has now created a web site to help users exercise this right. The guide is available in 11 languages. (Thanks to QuickLinks.)

Barbara Fister, Fear of Reference, Chronicle of Higher Education, June 14. (Online access limited to subscribers.) "Digital access has made research appear to be easier and faster, but it has also given rise to a confusing array of choices. Experienced researchers constantly use filters that they aren't even aware of."

Follow-up to Friday's story: Hackers have saved the day and provided the passwords to the archives of Norway's Center for Language and Culture. The archives had been inaccessible since the death of the previous archivist. (Thanks to LIS News.)