Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, November 23, 2002

The National Library of Medicine has launched a new grant program, Internet Access to Digital Libraries. NLM will give 52 grants totalling $4 million to health-related organizations to help them pay for digital access to health resources. Applicants are encouraged to address one or more objectives in the NLM Long Range Plan, which include enhanced access to medical literature. Applications are due February 1, 2003. (Thanks to ResourceShelf.)

Caslon Analytics has produced a series of free online guides to issues that affect the use and development of the internet. It has guides on electronic publishing, intellectual property, and censorship, among other topics. The electronic publishing guide has a section on journal publishing, which is a decent, though somewhat dated, introduction the problems and opportunities that created the FOS movement.

More on the DMCA....Adam Engst has written a detailed overview of the harm done and issues raised by the DMCA.

The EFF is now accepting nominations for its 2003 Pioneer Awards.

The December issue of Walt Crawford's Cites & Insights is now online. This issue has good sections on ebooks and the Eldred case. Take a moment to fill out his reader survey.

Friday, November 22, 2002

Wil Weston, Access to Scientific Literature, Nature, 420, 19 (November 7, 2002). Accessible only to paying subscribers. Here's the summary written by Margaret Gross for Current Cites: "Wil Weston, a librarian at the University of New Orleans, Earl K. Long Library, reinforces what all librarians already know. The internet is no substitute for libraries, and concomitantly, the guidance to research that librarians provide. Presently only 8% of journals and scarcely a fraction of books are accessible via the World Wide Web. Not only are search engines selective as to what to include, but also are biased. Search engines promote those sites which pay a listing fee, thereby ensuring these display early and prominently in retrieved site listings. This would be analogous to librarians offering their clients primarily those books for which publishers had paid a fee for precedence ranking. While this article doesn't present anything new for librarians, it is nevertheless a concise recap for non-librarians about the state of web research, and the qualitative advantage offered by libraries. Interesting citations included are: Lebedev, Alexander Moscow State University, Best search engines for finding scientific information in the Web, Version: August 9, 1996, and Lawrence, Steve, Online or Invisible."

(PS: I haven't read the full text. But is it possible that Weston compares the strengths of a good library to the strengths of the lowest form of searching on the web? Does he mention OAI-compliant cross-archive search engines or even Google?)

The latest issue of New Scientist has an interview with Brewster Kahle. When asked whether the Internet Archive was omitting important information by only archiving free sites, Kahle replied, "Maybe. But there are already archives of commercial information. It's like a traditional library: you pay for access or you schlep down to a building to look at it. It's the old world, it's tired. Our archive is the people's medium, the wired way, and you can use it wherever you are. How many subscribers does LexisNexis have? How many people use Google? Which would you rather publish in?"

The Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) is hosting a meeting of tech companies and media companies (roughly speaking, friends and foes of digital freedom) to iron out differences, as far as possible, before the new session of Congress convenes in January. The meeting is co-hosted by the Consumers Union and Public Knowledge. Differences that cannot be ironed out will show up in future Congressional battles over consumer rights and the aggressive expansion of intellectual property.

More on the death of PubScience....Karen Heyman tells the story in the November 20 issue of The Scientist. Last week we knew that the SIIA lobbying against federally-funded FOS would continue, but we didn't know which other databases it would target. Heyman confirms that one of the new targets is the National Agricultural Library's AGRICOLA.

Inverito has launched EdgarIQ, an enhanced, open-access version of the SEC's Edgar database of corporate financial statements, reports, filings, and forms. See Gary Price's summary of the new service in his ResourceShelf.

Four Microsoft researchers have published a paper (DOC format) arguing that no combination of hardware, software, and law will ever succeed in protecting digital content from illicit copying. Hence content companies will have to change their business models to survive. "In short, if you are competing with the darknet [the P2P networks], you must compete on the darknetís own terms: that is, convenience and low cost rather than additional security." (Also see John Lettice's summary of the article in The Register.)

Suzie Allard, Digital libraries and organizations for international collaboration and knowledge creation, The Electronic Library, 20, 4 (2002) pp. 369-381. Only this abstract is free online: "Knowledge creation relies on melding powerful technological tools with efficient human organizations. Digital libraries (DLs) provide the technological mechanisms to cross national and disciplinary boundaries, and promote an organizational structure that encourages communication between scholars who are both creating and consuming information. The DL is especially good at coordinating and integrating findings about a specific topic that is being studied by different disciplines and different nations, which is an essential component to further our knowledge. This paper will briefly outline the knowledge creation process, and will introduce the author's SEEK model (structure for encompassing extensible knowledge) that provides a framework for exploring the relationship between technology and human organizations in international interdisciplinary knowledge creation. The paper will also introduce two models of electronically-based scholarly organizations that promote international collaboration and facilitate knowledge creation, and will offer eight steps towards building the effective organization for utilizing DLs for international collaboration."

More on the death of PubScience....Stefanie Olsen tells the story in Quoting James Love, director of the Consumer Project on Technology: "You have a great public service being destroyed by commercial interests, and it's an attack on the public domain. It's something that wouldn't happen if we had limits on campaign spending. It's a case of corruption of U.S. Congress." Quoting Paul Uhlir, director of international scientific and technical information programs at the National Academy of Sciences: "Since the information was all publicly funded in the first place, the question from a public policy standpoint is, was this in the public interest?"

In a LawMeme note on this story, Steven Wu dug up a 1999 statement by Bill Richardson (Bill Clinton's Secretary of Energy) from the inauguration of PubScience: "For science to rapidly advance at the frontiers, it must be open. And shared knowledge is the enabler of scientific progress."

Thursday, November 21, 2002

The Internet Scout Project at the University of Wisconsin has released the code for its open-source Scout Portal Toolkit v. 1.0. In addition to other standard portal features, the SPT is RSS-ready and OAI-compliant. Edward Almasy and two co-authors have an article on it in the November D-Lib Magazine. The Scout Project encourages SPT users to fill out an online survey to help the developers.

More on the Eldred case....In a recent public lecture, conservative Appeals Court Judge Richard Posner criticized copyright extension and praised Lawrence Lessig for challenging it in the Supreme Court. (PS: This is further evidence that defense of the public domain appeals to both the left and right. It also gives hope that the conservative judges on the Supreme Court might accept Eldred's arguments.)

More on the death of PubScience....Jonathan Krim tells the story in today's Washington Post. Krim: "The decision alarmed researchers in and out of the federal government, who worry that services operated by other federal agencies might be forced to give way to private gatekeepers that would control access to information and research, much of which was created with public money." Chuck Hamaker, associate librarian at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, pointed out that the private sector alternatives provide free searching only as an inducement to buy full-text access. Quoting Martin Blume, editor in chief of the of the American Physical Society: "It's the heroin pusher's approach to marketing." Quoting Kent A. Smith, deputy director of the National Library of Medicine and chairman of an interagency group of federal providers of scientific and technical information: "We believe there is a need to ensure open access for the public to information created by taxpayer dollars. We think that's essential."

Tuesday, November 19, 2002

A peer-reviewed open-access journal, new last year and about to celebrate its first anniversary: Electronic Journal of Contemporary Japanese Studies.

Documenta Mathematica, one of the SPARC-partner open-access journals, has saved so much money from the electronic publication of the proceedings of the I998 International Congress of Mathematicians that it was able to use the savings to endow a major new mathematics award: the Carl Friedrich Gauss Prize, which includes a medal and 10,000 Euros. Quoting Ulf Rehmann, managing editor of Documenta Mathematica: "Redirecting our earnings back into research, rather than giving it to commercial science publishers, is both logical and rewarding. It is our way of illustrating that electronic journals can succeed in returning science to its rightful owners, thus pushing research forward."

If you remember last year's text-e virtual symposium in which participants from around the world read and discussed a new text online every two weeks for six months (October 2002 - March 2003), then you'll be interested to hear that Gloria Origgi, one of its principal organizers, has generalized the idea. Interdisciplines is her new web site offering online conferences and discussions in the humanities. The first in the series is Art and Cognition.

Christopher Green, Stalking the Wild E-Print: A Scout's Impressions of Publicatia Incognita, a presentation for the upcoming National Communications Association conference (New Orleans, November 22). Four lessons from Green's experience maintaining the full-text archive, Classics in the History of Psychology.

More on the DMCA....Starting today, the U.S. Copyright Office is soliciting online comments on the scope of the DMCA anti-circumvention clause. What kinds of non-infringing use of digital content are harmed by the clause and ought to be exempt from it? Comments will be welcome until December 19.

The presentations from the ALPSP/OSI conference, Open Access Journals --Will They Fly? are now online.

Greg Kuperberg, Scholarly Mathematical Communication at a Crossroads, an October 9 preprint at arXiv. Abstract: "This essay was invited for publication in Nieuw Archief voor Wiskunde; it will also appear in translation in the SMF Gazette and in the DMV Mitteilungen. I discuss the recent trends in scholarly communication in mathematics, the current state and intentions of the arXiv, and a proposal to reform peer review with the arXiv as a foundation."

Microsoft, Apple and other prominent high tech companies have sent a letter to the FCC warning that broadband cable ISPs such as Comcast may intend to promote or suppress certain types of online content by speeding or hampering subscriber access. Reports here and here. This kind of action would presumably favor commercial partners of the ISPs and therefore disfavor free online content. (Thanks to Paul Szynol at Lawmeme.)

Monday, November 18, 2002

The project briefing abstracts for the upcoming CNI Fall 2002 Task Force Meeting (San Antonio, December 5-6, 2002) are now online. Many are FOS-related.

Sunday, November 17, 2002

The FBI is digitizing its paper records for more efficient searching and sharing. When it gets up to speed, it will digitize 750,000 paper records per day. (PS: Imagine if our government gave this priority to the efficient searching and sharing of scientific journal articles, or even to the subset funded by the government.) (Thanks to VASND.)