Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, November 30, 2002

Richard Morais, Double Dutch No Longer, Forbes, November 11, 2002. Excerpt: "If you are not a scientist or a lawyer, you might never guess which company is one of the world's biggest in online revenue. Ebay will haul in only $1 billion this year. Amazon has $3.5 billion in revenue but is still, famously, losing money. Outperforming them both is Reed Elsevier, the London-based publishing company. Of its $8 billion in likely sales this year, $1.5 billion will come from online delivery of data, and its operating margin on the internet is a fabulous 22%."

Friday, November 29, 2002

FOS News will be offline tomorrow (November 30) from about 8:00 am to 4:00 pm EST while our server is down for maintenance. I apologize for the inconvenience.

At a November 6 conference in Bonn, German University rectors deplored the exorbitant and rapidly rising prices of academic journals and proposed procurement consortia and open access as solutions. They would even like to see universities require scholars to deposit their research papers in open-access archives as a condition of promotion and tenure. Read the conference press release in German or Google's English.

The rectors issued an important public statement at the conclusion of the conference, summarizing their recommendations. See the resolution in German or Google's English. (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)

Martin Eisend, The Internet as a new medium for the sciences? The effects of Internet use on traditional scientific communication media among social scientists in Germany, Online Information Review, 26, 5 (2002), pp. 307-317. Only this abstract is free online: "Scientific communication takes place within two main fields: research and publication. Whereas twentieth century audio-visual media did not become established in the scientific communication system, the Internet, with its variety of communication options, is able to enter both fields of communication and has even revolutionised this communication system to some extent. The investigation of this relationship is based on data from a study of social scientists taken in Berlin in autumn 1999. The Internet substitutes written communication media and complements forms of spoken communication in the field of research. It also complements traditional publisher-oriented forms of publication and is even a substitute for works that have previously avoided publication. Therefore, the Internet should not be regarded as a new alternative to traditional and institutionalised structures of communication of scientific publications, as it has already become institutionalised in the field of research as a medium of interpersonal communication."

Project RoMEO has launched a web page collecting the policies of journal publishers on copyright transfer and self-archiving. The project asks publishers to fill out its online questionnaire and welcomes updates or corrections from users. It also promises that "[a] a full analysis of the agreements will be available from the RoMEO project in the new year. In future the project hopes to work with the University of Cincinnati's Academic Journal Policy Portal to provide searchable access to this, and other related, information."

More on the DMCA....You know that the U.S. Copyright Office is soliciting public comments on specific kinds of digital content that should be exempted from the DMCA anti-circumvention clause (deadline December 18). Before you submit comments or decide that it would be fruitless to do so, read Seth Finkelstein's How To Win (DMCA) Exemptions And Influence Policy.

The EFF is organizing an email/fax campaign to save the open-access information provided by the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO). If you had to explain the issues to someone quickly on an elevator, here's how EFF would do it:
  • The vast majority of government documents are handled by the Government Printing Office (GPO), which then deposits copies in over 1,300 Federal depository libraries across the nation. The GPO also puts much of the content online in a searchable fashion.
  • The Office of Management and Budget (OMB, Executive Branch) has ordered government printing to be opened to competition and thus decentralized.
  • This is not the first time that the OMB has tried to harm the GPO; similar measures were proposed in 1987 and 1994. Congress issued strong warnings in both instances, saying that it was both not the OMB's place to make such a decision and that it would be bad policy.
  • The OMB doesn't seem to be backing down this time, despite the passage of a harshly worded resolution (HJ Res 124) warning against the move. If the OMB proposal takes effect, there will be less government material on the Internet and in our Libraries. Don't let them get away with it!
For background, the EFF recommends Miriam Drake, Is the GPO Endangered? from Information Today, August 5, 2002. I recommend the LA Times editorial for November 8, 2002, Chokehold on Knowledge: "The Bush administration's plan to strip the Government Printing Office's authority is a threat to democracy...."

The full program and all of the presentations from the launch of the EU's Sixth Framework Programme (Brussels, November 11-13) are now online. For more background, see the European Commission's Research site.

Today's Ascribe has a story on free electronic interlibrary loan at Davidson College. (Thanks to LIS News.)

Thursday, November 28, 2002

The Public Knowledge Project at the University of Britsh Columbia has recently released the Open Journal Systems (OJS). OJS is an online journal management and publishing system. OJS assists with every stage of the publishing process for refereed journals including:
  • Online Submission of Articles, Reviews, and other Items
  • Online Management for Each Stage of Publishing
  • Comprehensive Indexing of Published Articles
  • Research Support Tool for Each Article Published
  • Email Notification and Commentary for Readers
OJS is freely available under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation. For more information, contact John Willinsky (

Wednesday, November 27, 2002

There is currently a rich discussion thread in the September98 forum on impact factors, scientometrics, and the UK RAE review. Among other sub-topics, it covers the way in which some scientometrics reinforce the dominance of entrenched (usually priced) journals and the way in which open-access journals and archives will open the way to more sophisticated scientometrics.

In today's Chronicle of Higher Education, Florence Olsen surveys various projects to build grid computing platforms for scientific research. "An example of such infrastructure is the Extensible Terascale Facility. In 2003, scientists and engineers will begin using that grid, which network-computing experts say will be the world's largest and fastest grid for open, scientific research. The National Science Foundation is spending $88-million on the research grid, whose computing power will be on the order of 20 trillion operations per second."

Richard Posner, The Law and Economics of Intellectual Property, Daedalus, Spring 2002. A posting to the CNI-Copyright list says this is the full-text of the lecture I mentioned the other day in which Posner criticized copyright extension. It seems to be too early to qualify, though Posner's recent talk might have been based on the older essay. But he does criticize copyright extension. "[T]he copyright term has been repeatedly enlarged in recent years, to the point where copyrights are as a practical matter nearly perpetual."

Tuesday, November 26, 2002

The ALA has announced a series of new workshops for its Lawyers for Libraries program, which trains lawyers across the country to defend intellectual freedom from censorship, compulsory filtering, invasions of privacy, and recent national security legislation.

More on the Elcomsoft/Sklyarov case....The trial starts next week, but lawyers are already in court arguing about how to interpret the DMCA to the jury. Elcomsoft wants to argue that making a back-up copy of a purchased ebook is fair use. The federal prosecutor argues that "fair use is irrelevant and improper" and should not be mentioned in front of the jury.

Andras Pellionisz is seeking a patent on a scientific research program (the study of DNA introns to see whether they represent fractal patterns). Quoting Hal Plotkin for the San Francisco Chronicle: "His patent application covers all attempts to count, measure and compare the fractal properties of introns for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes." Patents must describe a non-obvious technique. In this case, the patentability of the research program depends on the fact that most biologists are not familiar with fractal mathematics. (Thanks to RRE.)

(PS: We're starting to see the insanity of business-method patents invade science. If these "scientific method patents" take off, then scientists will not only have to pay royalties to patent-holders in order to investigate nature, but invest up-front money to see whether a certain line of research is free for study.)

In today's Boston Globe, Jonathan Zittrain argues for calling off the copyright war. He distinguishes the corporate concept of copyright (ideas are property that nobody can use without paying) from the public view (ideas are free).

Excerpt: "Now that the public's tastes and the publishers' profits appear in direct conflict, the publishers also have joined a cultural war, trying to ensure that the prevailing model for the new Internet territory is grounded in the complex legal rules previously reserved for corporations, rather than the informal sense of sharing that has prevailed for individuals....As the publishers gird for a battle in which they are at risk of overreaching, the public must pay attention - and make it clear, without begrudging rightful profits to artists and publishers, that it's a bad idea to tighten control over ideas and their expressions. Freedom of trade must not trump freedom of mind."

Monday, November 25, 2002

John Bloom, Right and Wrong: The Copy-Right Infringement, National Review Online, November 22. The Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998 was "one of the most anti-American acts of the last century." How important is the timely passage of creative works into the public domain? "Tools for expanding civilization...are a limited commodity. They're resident in the books of Hemingway and Faulkner, the movies of Disney and Capra, and the songs of Kern and Berlin. Give 'em up. We need 'em. We've got work to do. It's not just the right thing to do. It's a right." (PS: More evidence that the right and left can agree on these issues.)

More on ideological web deletions by the Bush administration....An internal memo from the Department of Education declares an intent to delete information from the department web site if it "does not reflect the priorities, philosophies, or goals of the present administration." The American Educational Research Association (AERA) and 12 other research and library groups have written an open letter to Department Secretary Roderick Paige to protest the plan. Quoting from the open letter: "Such materials are essential to advancing scientifically-based research and need to remain accessible to the library, educational research, and related scholarly communities." For more details, see the AERA press release and Richard Monastersky's article in the November 25 Chronicle of Higher Education (accessible only to subscribers).

In the November 29 Chronicle of Higher Education, Andrea Foster profiles Edward Felton, his latest effort to draw attention to the absurd excesses of the CBDTPA, and his past case against the DMCA on the freedom to publish scientific research.

Version 1.0 of the ARC source code, is now available for downloading. ARC is an OAI-compliant cross-archive search engine.

The October issue of DigiCULT.Info is now online. The issue covers open access to cultural heritage content and its preservation.

Sunday, November 24, 2002

The recent builds of the search index for FOS News have omitted some pages of the archives. I just fixed the bug and rebuilt the index. If your recent searches have returned disappointing results, please try again. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Amy Friedlander, Dimensions and Use of the Scholarly Information Environment: Introduction to a Data Set Assembled by the Digital Library Federation and Outsell, Inc., published by DLF and CLIR, November 2002.

The report TOC has an entry on electronic journals, but the link is bad. To find the section, go to the Report and scroll down about 80% of the file.

More on the death of PubScience....Dan Gillmor inteprets the news in "The correct word for what has happened here is 'theft' --because the government has allowed private interests to steal from the public domain....Now, anyone who wants access to information collected and/or catalogued using our tax dollars will have to pay for it. Pay again, that is."