Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, August 31, 2002

Eduardo Saguier's open letter on academic censorship and the dearth of open access has now been posted to a forum at Dr. Dobb's Journal, where it is gathering some replies. Quoting Saguier: "This letter is submitted with the purpose of promoting debate as to what extent the practice of scientific research should or should not be regarded as a fundamental civil and human right, to what degree electronic information for academic study should be subject to democratic deliberation and scientific priorities rather than to market forces and business profits...." (PS: Saguier's letter was previously posted to the FOS forum. I encourage respondents to copy their replies to both the DDJ forum and the FOS forum.)

Friday, August 30, 2002

In the August 15 issue of Library Journal, Marylaine Block describes the state of preservation for electronic zines and newsletters, especially those covering library issues. This is the first article outside a zine or newsletter to describe the Coalition of Web-based Library-Related Zines/Newsletters (COWLZ). (PS: FOSN is part of the COWLZ planning group.)

Fair-use rights took a hard hit in a copyright case decided on August 20. In Bowers v. Baystate Technologies the First Circuit Court of Appeals held that when a shrink-wrap license and the federal copyright statute conflict, then the licence takes precedence. Moreover, the shrink-wrap licence is valid even in the absence of UCITA. (PS. Librarians know well that licensing terms often negate fair-use and other rights granted by the copyright statute. There have been two windows of hope for challenging such licensing terms: federal preemption of state contract law, and the general invalidation of shrink-wrap licenses as contracts of adhesion imposed on parties with essentially no bargaining. This case closes both windows, though only the first of the two issues seems to have been fully litigated here. Now the only windows of hope are that the First Circuit is merely one of eleven, and that the Supreme Court has yet to weigh in.)

An editorial in the August 31, 2002 issue of BMJ, Making research papers in the BMJ more accessible, reviews plans "to publish shorter, more reader friendly versions of original research papers in the print journal". The editorial includes a suggestion that: "In a few years' time the research papers in the print BMJ may look more like articles in a serious newspaper, while those on could be live documents with raw data and multimedia features".

Thursday, August 29, 2002

Wolfgang Schulz and Thorsten Held, Prospects of Guaranteeing Free Public Communication, Journal of Information Law & Technology, August 16, 2002. Subtitle: Findings of an Interdisciplinary Study on the Necessity of Non-commercial Services on the Basis of German Constitutional Law.

More on Saudi web censorship....In today's New York Times, Jennifer Lee reports on the Berkman Center study by Jonathan Zittrain and Benjamen Edelman. "The Saudi government is censoring public Internet access to a degree that goes significantly but haphazardly beyond its stated central goal of blocking sexually explicit content that violates the values of Islam."

Wednesday, August 28, 2002

An interview with Glenn Sanders, Webmaster of - is available here and here.

Tuesday, August 27, 2002

The telecom industry is weighing in on behalf of fair-use advocates and consumers against the IP industry. Declan McCullagh interviews Sarah Deutsch (VP and top lawyer for Verizon) in today's Quoting Deutsch: "It's been an interesting time to be on the same side as groups like Public Knowledge and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. We find ourselves with shared interests in making sure that fair use is preserved, that users' expectation in new digital services are fulfilled, and that copyright is ultimately a law that involves balancing the interests of many parties. We have a 300-pound gorilla on one side of the scale. Many of us are joining together on the other, to reach that necessary balance." According to Deutsch, on these issues Verizon is joined by AT&T, WorldCom, U.S. Cable & Wireless, and the Bell companies.

The Universities of Hamburg, Karlsruhe, and Oldenburg have formed the GAP (German Academic Publishers). "We aim to provide support for participating university presses in establishing electronic journals....Our objective is free access to quality controlled, scientific information." (Thanks to netbib via Klaus Graf.)

Did you ever wonder how many web documents contain a given word? How a given word ranks in frequency of web usage? The UC Berkeley and Stanford University Digital Library projects now have the data to answer your questions. For example, "FOS" occurs in 23,873 web documents and ranks 47,010th in frequency. The Berkeley and Stanford teams have created a free online searchable front end to their database and offer the data files free for downloading. The database is derived from a January 2001 archive of 88 million web pages, but will apparently be regenerated on newer and larger archives in the future. The Berkeley/Stanford purpose was to gather the data needed to bypass dead links and search for documents by their lexical signatures.

The new UK copyright statute has been made public for a two month comment period. In the August 21 London Times, David Rowan reports on its repressive features. "The law, among other things, will redefine 'fair dealing' ['fair use' in the US] involving intellectual property giving copyright owners new powers to limit what can be quoted in academic reviews, and potentially restricting the electronic information the public can access through libraries, and it will let copyright holders track the use of their data online. Some copyright breaches will also now become criminal rather than civil offences such as any attempts to protect yourself from this third-party surveillance while online."

Monday, August 26, 2002

The summer issue of Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship is now online. Here are the FOS-related articles.

You might have heard something of the controversy surrounding Michael Bellesile's Arming America, a work of history attracting harsh criticism for inaccuracy. Here's an FOS angle on the controversy. Jim Lindgren published a critique of the book in the April Yale Law Journal (printed circulation 3,300). But as of this morning, the free online version of his article had attracted 82,843 downloads. (Thanks to Glenn Reynolds via Andy Blumson.)

A survey conducted by Richard Bellaver at Ball State University finds that students using ebooks do as well as students using pbooks, but that they find fault with the clunky interface of ebook readers. (Thanks to Scott Carlson in today's Chronicle of Higher Education.)

Elsevier and FAST have announced an upgrade to Scirus, their free search engine of free and unfree content.