Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, November 16, 2002

In a recent debate in the German Bundestag on a copyright amendment, the Green party again focused on the needs of science and scholarship rather than entertainment. Quoting party spokesperson Grietje Bettin: "Wir müssen dafür sorgen, dass das öffentlich generierte Wissen auch breit zugänglich gemacht wird." Read Stefan Krempl's German or Google's English. (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)

Friday, November 15, 2002

More on STIX....In the November 7 New York Times, Jeffrey Selingo gives a progress report on the project to develop 7,000 scientific and mathematical characters in special web-friendly license-free fonts.

The International Dunhuang Project provides free online access to 50,000 handwritten Chinese manuscripts found in a cave in 1900. Since their discovery, individual manuscripts have been taken by visitors and dispersed around the world. Beyond providing open access, the new project is the only realistic way for scholars to view the original collection in its entirety. The project is sponsored by the British Library and the National Library of China. (Thanks to LIS News.)

Even if a book is in the public domain, putting a good copy online requires good proofreading. Distributed Proofreaders is an attempt to streamline this process on behalf of Project Gutenberg. The site allows volunteers to proofread as many pages as they have time for, using a slick web interface. Proofreaders compare an image of the original printed page with the draft ASCII text, and use a web form to mark changes and resubmit the revised file. The site also displays data on the state of completion of every project. For more details, see the FAQ. (Thanks to LIS News.)

After much internal struggle, the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) is proposing a policy that internet standards can only rest on patented technologies when the patent-holder agrees not to charge royalties. This is a major victory for the free exchange of information. Public comment on the new proposal is welcome until December 31. The final version of the policy should be ready for implementation by May 2003.

Thursday, November 14, 2002

In the November issue of First Monday, John Willinsky has an important article on Copyright Contradictions in Scholarly Publishing. He looks closely at the copyright implications of commercial and open-access publishing. "I have been struck in exploring the case for open access by how the very principles of copyright law, oddly enough, appear to be on its side....With the emergence of a new publishing medium, enterprising researchers and others have introduced a second economic model - open access - into scholarly publishers. This model invites and supports a wider readership, on a far more global basis, and is far more in accord with the copyright interests of researchers and those who would back such scholarly and scientific activities."

RVOT (Rapid Visual OAI Tool) is another open-source program for creating OAI-compliant eprint archives. Written by Sathish Kumar, a grad student at the Digital Library Research Group at Old Dominion University.

Scholarship produced by the annual Forum for the Future of Higher Education will now be offered free online at a web site sponsored by EDUCAUSE. See their joint press release. For example, the proceedings of the 2001 Forum are now online.

In the November issue of the ACRL News, W. Lee Hisle outlines the seven top issues facing academic libraries. Number 5: "Chaos in scholarly communication. Librarians advocate the need for fair scholarly communication models as copyright laws change or are reinterpreted and challenges to fair-use in a digital context continue to be made. Traditional library/publisher relationships may change substantially. The consolidation of the information industry under a few large vendors is a substantial threat as it represents possible homogenization of information and the potential for monopolistic business practices. The rise of the Web as the first choice for student and faculty researchers represents a departure from traditional scholarly research patterns. Overcoming the apparent lack of commitment by the commercial information industry to future access of information will be an ongoing challenge for librarians."

The audio files of the two presentations at MIT's recent panel discussion, Copyright and Culture (November 6), are now online. The two speakers were Siva Vaidhyanathan and Jonathan Zittrain.

More on the Eldred case....OpenLaw is hosting a discussion of questions raised in last month's oral argument before the Supreme Court. (Thanks to Lawrence Lessig's blog.)

In the November 13 Federal Computer Week, William Matthews assesses the impact of killing PubScience and reports that the lobbyists who killed it are targeting other government-funded FOS, including one database in law and one in agriculture, both unnamed. The lobbying campaign is led by the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA), a trade association of commercial electronic publishers.

SIIA spokesman David LeDuc said, "We have no intention of going after PubMed." But it's not clear why. According to LeDuc, as paraphrased by Matthews, "it is fairer to charge researchers for the articles they use than to charge taxpayers for the cost of running a Web site that makes them available for free." (PS: Let's get this breathtaking assertion straight. When the research is funded by the government and the articles donated by authors, then taxpaying readers should have to pay a second levy to read them, and pay it to a third party with no role in the research? The cost of a running a government web site is a greater burden on taxpayers than the cost of paying profiteers standing between authors and readers?)

Le Duc says that SIIA picked out PubScience because some SIIA member organizations didn't appreciate the competition. To be charitable, we can assume that many SIIA member organizations deplored this attack on the public interest. Scan the list of companies that are members of SIIA. You probably use software from at least one. Let these companies know what you think of what the SIIA is doing in their name and whether you want your dollars to support this kind of piracy from the public.

Wednesday, November 13, 2002

Writing in Die Zeit (No. 47, 2002), Max Rauner argues that OAI-compliant eprint archiving has the potential to break the power of the journal publishers. Read his German or Google's English. (PS: Unfortunately Rauner perpetuates the myth that open-access initiatives don't endorse peer review. Max: Next time read the BOAI and its FAQ.) (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)

The Communication of Research special interest group of the American Educational Research Association maintains a list of freely accessible electronic journals in the field of education. The list currently includes approximately 120 journals and is maintained by Tirupalavanam G. Ganesh.

In the November-December Searcher, Carol Ebbinghouse surveys a very wide range of initiatives to give away digital content, from free software and music, to science and scholarship. She quotes at length from the BOAI. Her conclusion: "These are exciting times."

Stanford has posted the full report of its second user survey of Highwire Press ejournals. The report of the first survey is still available, and highlights of the third survey are also online while the report is in preparation.

Tuesday, November 12, 2002

More on the Veeck case....SBCCI, the trade association that lost the appellate decision, is appealing to the Supreme Court. The briefs go the court later this month. SBCCI wrote a model building code and saw it enacted as public law in a number of U.S. jurisdictions. It wants to retain copyright on the public law, force citizens to purchase copies of it from SBCCI if they want to see the full text, and block citizens from putting the text of the public law on the internet.

DARE (Digital Academic Repositories) is a new Dutch initiative to increase the visibility, accessiblity and impact of research literature by Dutch scientists. All Dutch universities will participate in making their research output digitally accessible in an OAI-compliant form. The project is funded by the Dutch government, administered by SURF (a Dutch ICT organization for higher education), and sponsored by the Royal Library, the Royal Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research. JISC is a partner. See the DARE press release. (PS: I believe this is the first nationally-coordinated program to insure open access to a national body of research literature.)

In today's Heise Online, Monika Ermert reports that German scientists are considering "Greenpeace-like" actions in protest of the EU copyright directive, which jeopardizes the free exchange of scientific information. Also see Google's English translation. (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)

In the October Mindjack, Bryan Alexander has a detailed and appreciative review of Lawrence Lessig's The Future of Ideas.

The presentations from the Access Management Conference (November 6, 2002) are now online. The conference was sponsored by JISC, UCISA, and UKERNA.

Monday, November 11, 2002

BioMed Central has redesigned its web site. Apart from the aesthetic and navigational changes, it has introduced a new service allowing readers to comment on any article in a BMC journal. Posting comments requires free registration to verify the user's email address.

Emerald has launched the Literari Club to help journal editors and authors improve their English. Quoting John Peters, director of Emerald: "It is a chronic waste of research, if papers fail to get the consideration they deserve because of poorly written English."

(PS: Good point. I'd add that it's a chronic waste of research, if papers fail to reach the readers who need them because of prohibitive price and licensing barriers.)

Sunday, November 10, 2002

Germany's Green party may propose legislation to require German professors to publish their research articles in open access journals or archives. The Greens cite the OAI, BOAI, and SPARC in support of their position. Quoting Götz von Stumpfeldt, political and economic advisor to the Green coalition in the Bundestag: "Es gibt eine Pflicht für Leute, die Wissen öffentlich produzieren, ihre Ergebnisse auch öffentlich zur Verfügung zu stellen." Also see Google's English translation. (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)