Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Friday, December 20, 2002

Andy Oram, What Do Intellectual Property Owners Want, The American Reporter, December 20, 2002. Excerpt: "The attempt of these forces to paint the battle as one of simple revenue streams and author’s rights must be rejected. The fight is a moral one, and the moral imperative lies with those who wish to examine, discuss, and criticize freely."

Eric Hellweg interviews Lawrence Lessig about the Eldred case in South by Southwest. At the end of the interview, Hellweg asked what ordinary citizens could do to help the cause. Lessig replied: write to Congress and write a blog.

Ronald E LaPorte and eight co-authors, Papyrus to PowerPoint (P 2 P): metamorphosis of scientific communication, BMJ, 325 (December 21, 2002) 1478-1481. The authors argue that free online powerpoint presentations can and should replace scientific journals (print or online). In addition to making their case in this BMJ article, they also make it in a free online powerpoint presentation, and ask readers to vote on which format they prefer. (Thanks to Malcolm Dow.)

David Sharp is supposed to have an editorial on the LaPorte theory in the December 21 Lancet, but either it's not online or I can't find it. (Can anyone help with the text or URL?)

Information Technologies and International Development is a new journal from MIT Press. It has issued a call for papers for its first issue (Fall 2003), and welcomes papers on "access and accessibility" among other topics.

ARION ("an advanced lightweight architecture for accessing scientific collections") is a new initiatiave from the European Commission IST program. From the web site: "ARION is aiming to provide a new generation of Digital Library services for the searching and retrieval of digital scientific collections that reside within research and consultancy organisations. These collections contain data, programs and tools in various scientific areas and incorporate applications of different domains of knowledge. ARION advances the findings of previous studies in areas, such as, management of networked scientific repositories and metacomputing. It consolidates the work of international interoperability standard development to provide a system that is complementary to established scientific practices in these organisations. ARION will be a federated open system and will be developed in association with national data providers, scientific researchers and SME’s to ensure that the project meets their needs." (Thanks to the Internet Resources Newsletter.)

JISC has announced a one-year consultancy on archiving e-publications, particularly e-journals that libraries license rather than own. The project will study how existing licensing terms help or hurt long-term access to journals, and evaluate how other licensing terms or long-term access arrangements could do better.

Guess who said it: "Nobody knows. Probably you'll do your work, and after that somebody comes for you to arrest you...."

Answer: Russian programmer Dmitry Sklyarov reflecting on his experience in the United States and the chill it has sent through the programming world.

Cellule MathDoc has launched NUMDAM (NUMérisation de Documents Anciens Mathématiques), an archive of the complete back-runs of selected French mathematics journals published before 2000. NUMDAM allows free searching and TOC browsing of the entire database, and free full-text access to all the articles beyond the embargo periods (or moving walls) of the participating journals. The archive currently contains two journals, with plans for three more. In the long run it hopes to include "all the journals published in France". (Thanks to David Bigwood.)

Gordon Fletcher, Averting the crisis in medical publishing - open access journals, He@lth Information on the Internet, 30 (December 2002) 6-7. Abstract: "Scientific and medical publishing is in turmoil. The current system of distributing research papers in a vast number of journals, which are increasing in price, is unsustainable. Some subscription prices have increased by as much as 140% over 10 years leading to cries that publishers are restricting the communication of medical research. Little is being done by the big publishers to address the crisis in scholarly communication. However, a range of organisations and initiatives are trying to change things for the better. These include PubMed Central, the Public Library of Science, the Budapest Open Access Initiative and the Health InterNetwork Access to Research Initiative. In addition, the online publisher BioMed Central stands alone as the first commercial publisher to adopt a business model that aims to deliver open access publishing to the biological and medical research communities."

More on the DMCA exemptions....In today's Chronicle of Higher Education, Andrea Foster reports on the arguments submitted by university and library groups that scholarly work should be exempt from the DMCA anti-circumvention clause in order to permit fair use by researchers. "Researchers and scholars maintain that they must be able to bypass the access-control devices and view digital texts and images without fear of breaking the law. The groups note that academic users have long been able to view nonelectronic copyrighted material under existing fair-use provisions of copyright law." The groups also complain that the Copyright Office's standard of proof --evidence of actual damage without the exemption-- is too high, requiring researchers to forego existing resources, and damage their research projects, in order to accumulate the evidence of damage.

Why does the U.S. government need a system for internet-wide surveillance? Quoting Tiffany Olson, deputy chief of staff for the President's Critical Infrastructure Protection Board: "We don't have anybody that is able to look at the entire picture. When something is happening, we don't know it's happening until it's too late." (PS: The same argument applies to worldwide kitchen-table surveillance.)

Thursday, December 19, 2002

On December 4, the National Science Board released its draft report on Science and Engineering Infrastructure For the 21st Century [a .doc file]. It welcomes public comment on the draft until January 9. (Thanks to the CNI-Announce list.) Excerpt from the executive summary: "Recent concepts of infrastructure are expanding to include distributed systems of hardware, software, information bases, and automated aids for data analysis and interpretation. Enabled by information technology, a qualitatively different and new S&E infrastructure has evolved, delivering greater computational power, increased access, distribution and shared-use, and new research tools, such as data analysis and interpretation aids, web-accessible databases, archives, and collaboratories. Many viable research questions can be answered only through the use of new generations of these powerful tools." (PS: One suggestion: distribute important documents online in a more open and inviting format like HTML or even PDF.)

Last summer Sun Microsystems issued a white paper on Digital Library Technology Trends to accompany its Digital Library Toolkit. (Thanks to the CNI-Announce list.)

The December 19 issue of The Filter is now online. This issue discusses the Glutnick internet jurisdiction case, the Elcomsoft verdict, comments to the Copyright Office on DMCA exemptions (including mine), Chinese internet censorship, and the launch of the Creative Commons' Licensing Project. The Filter is written by Donna Wentworth, the newest contributor to FOS News.

More on deletions from government web sites....In today's issue of Chris Sherman's SearchDay, Marylaine Block judiciously surveys the problem. Excerpt: "Now, it is possible to make an honorable case for many of these deletions of public information....The problem is that the previous presumption, that publicly-funded information is the rightful property of the public until proven otherwise, has been replaced by the presumption that the public has to prove to a suspicious government that it deserves the information." Quoting Gary Bass, of OMB Watch: "We are moving from a right to know to a need to know society."

In his Tuesday column Dan Gillmor finds the Elcomsoft verdict and the launch of the Creative Commons licensing project to be grounds for hope after a year of bad IP news.

More on the Patriot Act and libraries....Because the act forbids librarians from telling patrons when the FBI has seized their borrowing records, librarians have been devising clever, effective, but lawful signs to warn patrons about FBI spying. (See five signs on one page.) The same article reports on the growing movement in which American cities adopt resolutions repudiating the Patriot Act. This week Oakland became the 20th city to do so.

Wednesday, December 18, 2002

The Creative Commons has put together an excellent 1.5 MB Flash presentation explaining the concept behind its free service. The presentation leads with the example of music, probably a good choice to grab the largest audience. But you'll see the generality of the idea immediately.

More on the Elcomsoft case and the Boucher bill.....Rep. Rick Boucher believes the DMCA needs revision even though Elcomsoft was acquitted yesterday. By legalizing circumvention for fair use (and a few other purposes), Boucher's bill would prevent similar prosecutions in the future and free companies like Elcomsoft from the risk of a jury conviction. The last Congress did not adopt the bill, but Boucher will reintroduce it next month when the new Congress convenes.

More on the Public Library of Science....Andrea Foster tells the story of the two new open-access journals in today's Chronicle of Higher Education.

More on the DMCA....The comment period for suggesting exemptions to the DMCA anti-circumvention clause ends today. I submitted a comment this morning arguing for an exemption for open-access science and scholarship. I've posted a copy to the FOS Forum.

More on the Public Library of Science....There is now a Slashdot thread on PLoS and its new open-access journals.

The 2002 ICAAP Award for Excellence in Electronic Publication has gone to JENDA: A Journal of Culture and African Women Studies. The ICAAP Award is limited to open-access journals.

When MIT officially launched DSpace on November 4, it held a celebratory conference, Scholarly Communication in the Digital World. Video of the presentations from that conference --by Ann Wolpert, Hal Abelson, James Boyle, Clifford Lynch-- are now online. (Thanks to Jason Bobe.)

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

On October, JISC adopted a Continuing Access and Preservation Strategy for 2002-2005. It replaces the interim strategy for 1998-2001.

BioMed Central has created an extensive advocacy kit to help others make the case for open access. It comes in two versions, one for researchers and one for librarians. Both understandably lean toward BMC when specific models or examples are needed, but both make the general argument as well. (PS: Similar in motivation to Create Change from ARL, ACRL, and SPARC, but with less background information and more emails and powerpoint presentations ready to go. Use both.)

More on the Elcomsoft case....The jury said not guilty. Making a product with both legal and illegal uses only violates the DMCA if the maker intended to violate the law. (PS: This is a good day for everything with a legal and illegal use, from personal computers to crowbars. Also a good day for fair use and other ways of abiding by the law. It's at least as important to shield lawful acts from liability as it is to punish unlawful ones. I don't know how much this verdict will stop other aggressive prosecutions under the DMCA. But I'm sure that the opposite verdict would have encouraged them.)

The September issue of the European Research News Centre, has an anonymous article on open access to science, especially in cognitive science, physics, and biology. Quoting Declan Butler, European correspondent for Nature: "Changes to the system of academic publishing are inevitable and necessary. All those involved in scientific information are now living in a phase of experimentation." (Thanks to Eric Zimmerman.)

In the same issue, Jon Bing and Robert Cailliau reflect on how science can take advantage of the internet . They mention access as one of the first advantages, but while they don't seem to know of any of the open-access initiatives, they assume its success enough to worry about the next phase. Quoting Bing: "'The need now is to develop the navigating and guidance strategies – what we call meta-information – to enable us to take our bearings in a prolific environment."

BTW, the rest of this issue is devoted to science and the media and would be useful for scientists whose work or (say) open-access advocacy leads them to deal with the press.

Last week I mentioned that President Bush was expected to sign the E-Government Act of 2002, which was unanimously adopted by Congress. Today he did sign it. Among other things, the act requires federal courts to provide open access to their judgments, dockets, rules, and standing orders, and requires federal agencies to provide open access to all the information they are required to publish in the Federal Register.

New article about the Sklyarov-ElcomSoft case, published by United Press International (UPI).

Also about the new PLoS journals: the News item outlines a plan to begin receiving submissions by summer 2003, and to begin publishing in the second half of 2003.

The presentations from the International Conference on Scientific Electronic Publishing in Developing Countries (Valparaíso, Chile, September 30 - October 2) are now online.

In the December 15 RLG DigiNews, Richard Entlich reviews the state of the art in preventing link rot and discovering the new locations of moved sites.

More on the PLoS journals....PLoS publicly announced its first two open-access journals and its Moore Foundation grant in an email to those who signed its open letter.

Monday, December 16, 2002

Later this week, the Public Library of Science has will launch its first two open-access journals, PLoS Biology and PLoS Medicine. The new publishing venture is funded by a $9 million grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, named for Gordon Moore, co-founder of Intel.

From Amy Harmon's story in the December 17 New York Times: "By providing a highly visible alternative to what they view as an outmoded system of distributing information, the founders hope science itself will be transformed. The two journals are the first of what they envision as a vast electronic library in which no one has to pay dues or seek permission to read, copy or use the collective product of the world's academic research....[I]n addition to making data available to more people sooner, the electronic library's founders argue that the research itself becomes more valuable when it is not walled off by copyrights and Balkanized in separate electronic databases. They envision the sprouting of a kind of cyber neural network, where all of scientific knowledge can be searched, sorted and grafted with a fluidity that will speed discovery."

(PS: This is an important event. PLoS is a major open-access initiative. Its first strategy asked scientists not to submit their work to journals that didn't provide open access to their contents within six months of print publication. It attracted over 30,000 public signatures but only disappointing follow-through. This is the second strategy, and it not only aligns with other recent strategies, such as the Budapest Open Access Initiative, but has the high profile earned by the first strategy, the growing number of public signatures, PLoS co-founder and Nobel laureate, Harold Varmus, and the new Moore Foundation grant.)

Jewel Ward has put her Master's Thesis online, A Quantitative Analysis of Dublin Core Metadata Element Set (DCMES) Usage in Data Providers Registered with the Open Archives Initiative (OAI). Abstract: "This research describes an empirical study of how the Dublin Core Metadata Element Set (DCMES) is used by 100 Data Providers (DPs) registered with the Open Archives Initiative (OAI). The research was conducted to determine whether or not the DCMES is used to its full capabilities. Eighty-two of 100 DPs have metadata records available for analysis. DCMES usage varies by type of DP. The average number of Dublin Core elements per record is eight, with an average of 91,785 Dublin Core elements used per DP. Five of the 15 elements of the DCMES are used 71% of the time. The results show the DCMES is not used to its fullest extent within DPs registered with OAI." (Congratulations, Jewel!)

The other day I cited Jim Pitman's page of links to free online mathematics journals. At the time it inadvertently included some priced journals, but Jim has now removed these. He welcomes suggestions on what to add or subtract.

Anick Jesdanun, Fences go up as the Net outgrows its innocence, Gainesville Sun, December 13, 2002. Excerpt: "On the Internet, you can learn about virtually anything. You can seek comfort from others similarly afflicted by a rare disease or explore such sensitive topics as birth control. Just as long as you're not connecting from work, a school or a public library, that is....As the Internet matures, governments, corporations, universities and service providers are erecting fences, some by design, others often unintentionally." Quoting Jonathan Zittrain of Harvard Law School: "We could end up with an increasing amount of filtering in the middle without anyone particularly raising much of a hue and cry about what impact it has." Jesdanun paraphrasing Fred von Lohmann of the EFF: "Knowledge and innovation are at risk if publishers and researchers must get permission [to] pass through each gateway." (Thanks to LIS News.)

Although the Creative Commons launched last May 16, it has just released version 1.0 of its licensing project. This is a web interface allowing you to click some options and generate a license in bulletproof legalese that reserves the rights you selected and otherwise allows maximum sharing, copying, and use by the public. The licenses are free of charge. Also see today's press release.

CC has also created a license for what it calls The Founders' Copyright, under which the copyright holder agrees to assign the work to the public domain after only 14 years, the copyright term in effect in 1790 that reflects the framers' sense of the right balance between the temporary monopoly of copyright and the public domain. (Today's copyright term in the U.S. is the life of the author plus 70 years.)

The Open eBook Forum has released the results of a consumer survey on ebooks. Only a brief summary is free online for non-members. Highlight: "Contrary to a commonly held industry belief, results indicate no correlation between computer skills or daily Internet use and downloading an eBook. General readers are as likely to adopt eBook technology as people who have expert computer skills and people who visit the Internet daily."

Sunday, December 15, 2002

An editorial in the December 9 USA Today advises the music industry to learn to do business in the digital age. File sharing will not disappear. Recording companies should not rely on increasingly high barriers to access but "enlist music fans, not fight them, by offering 'better than free' services."

Herve' Le Crosnier, Democracy, Society, Creativity -- in the Era of the New Technologies, translated by Jack Kessler. (Kessler's link to the French original doesn't work, but I include it FYI.) Excerpt: "Happily, the future is not yet written. The simple act of denouncing a trend, of revealing it, can aid greatly in counteracting it. For this tendency towards pay-as-you-go monopoly is beginning to come up against another use of the Internet network: its bursting-of-boundaries, its peer-to-peer communications, its swarming civil society....[and] the Budapest Initiative for freedom of access to research. This assembles thousands of scientists, and institutions such as libraries and scientific academies, to promote the free circulation of scientific articles throughout the world....The Budapest Initiative, which was made public on February 14, 2002, foresees the self-archiving and exchange of research publications, and the creation of new scientific journals which are free-of-charge --so that knowledge becomes really accessible throughout the world, and so that it really does serve the development of collective well-being."