Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, July 20, 2002

The Saarbrücker Bibliothek is an open-access archive of papers previously published in print journals by law professors at Saarbrücken University.

More on the CBDTPA....The CEOs of several major hardware and software companies have written (July 15) an open letter to their counterparts in the entertainment industry, arguing against the CBDTPA. This is their reply to the entertainment CEOs open letter of April 12, making the opposite case (whose URL I cannot find).

Friday, July 19, 2002

The July-August issue of eCulture is now online. This is a useful review of EU Information Society news and programs. (But I'm always annoyed that this PDF newsletter cannot be read online but must be downloaded by FTP.)

The House Judiciary Committee has approved a bill allowing universities to copy and transmit some copyrighted works for distance learning without first obtaining the permission of the copyright holder. The enlargement of the exception granted to non-profit educational institutions is small, but it's the first time in a long time that Congress has taken a step in the right direction on copyright issues.

William G. Town and three co-authors, Chemical e-journals, chemical e-preprints, Online Information Review, 26, 3 (2002) pp. 164-171. (Only an abstract is free online.)

The EFF has articulated its position on fair use and DRM.

Singer-songwriter Janis Ian defends the free online distribution of music, even for musicians hoping to earn a living from their work.

Laura Sessions Stepp reports in the Washington Post that college students are relying more and more on the internet for their research, and their professors are worried. Many of the worries are justified, of course. But the quantity of peer-reviewed FOS for students to find is still small and growing. Check back after the revolution. (Thanks to LIS News.)

Andrew Richard Albanese, Copyright in the Balance: LJ Talks with Lawrence Lessig, Library Journal, July 15. An interview with Lessig on copyright extension, the Eldred case, the CBDTBA, and the Creative Commons. Quoting Lessig on copyright extension: "Much more fundamentally, who are the real thieves out there? The public domain was supposed to be fed with new work beginning in 1998 that's been taken away from the public. It's been taken away by Congress legislating to extend the terms of existing copyrights. I think that is theft from the public as much as there is theft going on in other contexts." (Thanks to LIS News.)

Wednesday, July 17, 2002

More on the PATRIOT Act....Zara Gelsey, Who's Reading Over Your Shoulder?, Center for Cognitive Liberty and Ethics, July 16. "Freedom of thought and the freedom to read are intertwined. And while monitoring library records is not as direct as banning books, it is bound to cause self-censorship among readers, which may be the intended result anyway. The government may not be able to ban a book, so instead it will make you a suspect if you read that book. The FBI is merely circumventing the First Amendment by threatening readers rather than prohibiting what they read."

Zeitenblicke is a new open-access journal of history. It's in German, but the inaugural issue contains an editorial in English. Klaus Graf's article on the Hexenforschung mailing list contains an argument for more open-access, interoperable collections of scholarship, as called for by the Budapest Open Access Initiative.

The Minnesota Historical Society is conducting an online survey of users of electronic records. The survey is part of a larger study of the Electronic Records Research Agenda used by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.

The blog will be offline tomorrow (Thursday, July 19) from 6:45 pm to 9:00 pm Central Standard Time. Our host, Earlham College, is shutting down campus power for various maintenance chores.

Jonathan Zittrain and Benjamin Edelman of Harvard's Berkman Center have released their study of internet filtering in Saudi Arabia. Apart from sexually explicit, anti-Muslim, and anti-Arab sites, Saudi citizens are blocked from viewing sites on women's health, women's history, Muslim history, comparative religion, and Middle Eastern politics and history. (Thanks to LIS News.)

"The California Academy of Sciences actively pursues original scientific research. Staff in the Academy's eight separate research departments conduct original research, develop and maintain collections, and are directly involved in all educational and outreach activities of the institution." Many full texts documents and online digital colections are searchable and available.

Tuesday, July 16, 2002

The American Educational Research Association Special Interest Group (AERA SIG) maintains a very useful list of free online peer-reviewed full-text journals in the field of education. (Thanks to Jim Morrison.)

More on deep linking....In the July 16 SearchDay, Chris Sherman presents an edited debate on the legality of deep linking between Paul Alan Levy and Eric Ward.

Michael Meier has just published his dissertation on the upheaval in the STM journal market, Returning Science to the Scientists: Der Umbruch im STM-Zeitschriftenmarkt durch Electronic Publishing (in German). The book is apparently not online. But here's the German abstract and Google's English translation of the abstract.

Bruce Heterick, Faculty Attitudes Toward Electronic Resources, Educause Review, July/August. Based on a JSTOR survey which, not surprisingly, seems not to have asked any questions about open access.

Martha Kyrillidou has posted the online slides from her talk at the June 16 ALA/ALCTS meeting in Atlanta on the state of preservation in university libraries. Her presentation summarizes recent surveys by the IMLS and ARL.

Monday, July 15, 2002

The UK Department for Culture, Media and Sport has announced a £13 million grant to develop projects for Culture Online.

Gigi Sohn of Public Knowledge is trying to recruit 100,000 geeks angry about the DMCA and CBDTPA, and ready to lobby their Congressional delegations by email when key legislation comes up for a vote. PS: Public Knowledge is an important friend of fair use rights, the knowledge commons, and FOS. (Thanks to Declan McCullagh in

Why is the American Library Association teaming up with a mortgage bank to promote home ownership? As part of the campaign, libraries will offer information and seminars to help homebuyers make intelligent decisions. The mortgage bank will make money. If the library materials are neutral and don't favor its corporate partner, I see no problem. But why not similar campaigns for cars, vacations, mouthwash, and hair dye?

Would you pay $250 per year for any single television channel you now receive for free? That's the price that Jamie Kellner threatens that consumers will have to pay if ad-skipping technology spreads. Kellner is sure that his own network, the Turner Broadcasting System, would thrive on a fee-based business model. But I'll bet he doesn't try it, even if ad-skipping software spreads.

The National Technical Information Service (NTIS) now offers online access of all the reports in its unmatched collection of government research reports. Even after the agency responsible for a report stops offering copies, NTIS will do so. Reports under 20 pages are free; longer reports cost $8.95. (Thanks to Barbara Quint in Information Today.)

The ACLU is warning that the openness of the internet is threatened by the move to cable-based broadband. Unlike the telephone system, cable is not regulated to ensure openness to content and competition. As more online connections move to cable, more content will be under the private control of proprietary monopolies. Quoting Barry Steinhardt of the ACLU: "Many people don't realize that if current policies continue, a handful of big monopolies will gain power over information flowing through the Internet. Freedom of speech doesn't mean much if the forums where that speech takes place are not free."

New Persistent ID service - U-ID - joins more veteran ones: and the DOI system. More about the DOI handles - here and here.

Sunday, July 14, 2002

For three months, from June 20 to September 20, 2002, Nature is offering free access to selected papers at its Stem Cell Web Focus: "The debate continues over the relative merits of using embryonic and adult stem cells for research - and perhaps, one day, to treat patients."

Shibboleth is a project to make make access to scientific and scholarly information as wide and easy as possible --short of simply adopting open access. Unlike other forms of DRM, Shibboleth makes access depend on a framework of trust between the user's institution and the institution archiving the desired information, as opposed to the unilateral policies of the latter alone. It is now calling for participants in a pilot project.

In the pilot, EBSCO and Elsevier will make selected databases accessible to participating institutions. I can see why they'd prefer Shibboleth to open access. I can't see why they'd prefer it to traditional DRM, but I applaud them for testing its preferability. On the other hand, Shibboleth is also designed to allow universities to share information with one another. Here's where I lose the thread. Shibboleth is more difficult to implement and use than open access, and leaves standing more barriers to access. So for inter-university sharing, why is it better than open access? If a university is willing to share certain information with fellow academics without charge, why not share it with the world and dispense with complex middleware? (I really want to know.)

Eugene Russo, EU Database Directive Draws Fire, The Scientist, July 8. The 1996 directive gives copyright protection to facts compiled into databases, which endangers scientific research and the free exchange of information. The directive does not require member states to protect the quoting of facts as fair use. It makes this fair-use protection optional, and France, Greece, and Italy have chosen not to adopt it. Quoting oceanographer Ferris Webster: "I could, in fact, be charged with a crime in some countries in Europe" for conducting original research using temperature data from a database on global climate. Quoting Roger Elliott of the All European Academies (ALLEA) consortium: "The European law...passed into existence...without the scientific community really noticing what was happening." For years, the U.S. has considered similar copyright rules for databases, but so far the legislation has not left the House Energy and Commerce Committee. (Thanks to LIS News.)