Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, January 11, 2003

Stevan Harnad has responded, in a letter in dated 10 January 2003, to Gunther Eysenbach's earlier letter, also in (see this blog, 10 January). In his response, Stevan Harnad has referred to information posted, as part of another recent thread on Journal expenses and publication costs in the American Scientist Forum.

Author Cory Doctorow posted his new SF novel, "Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom" for free download. The results: "24 hours after launching the site from which you can download my novel for free, the book has been downloaded over 20,000 times. It's been Slashdotted, blogged to hell and back, and I've done a number of press interviews about it. What's more, the title is currently sitting at #304 in the Amazon Sales Rank. Let's call this one a success. I could not be more stoked. Damn." I can confirm his experience. I posted the entitre content of my textbook, "Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited" online in April 1997. The Web sites has had more than 2 million page views hitherto. My publisher is selling c. 3000 print copies and 400 e-books a year. The book is ranked 1000-2000 at the Not bad.

In the December Library Technology, Thomas Kochtanek gives an overview of Developments in e-books. (Thanks to ResourceShelf.)

In yesterday's Chronicle of Higher Education, Florence Olsen reports that ProQuest has launched a web interface, licensed from bepress, for submitting theses and dissertations to the ProQuest UMI repository. The interface includes a method for thesis supervisors to authenticate the submission. Future versions of the software will allow students to post drafts accessible only to their thesis committee, and will structure the critiques and revisions in much the same way that peer-review software structures the editing process at scholarly journals.

Friday, January 10, 2003

Maximilian Herberger, Rechtswissenschaftliche Texte und elektronisches Publizieren: Zehn Thesen für die deutsche Diskussion, originally published in Gedächtnisschrift für Dieter Meurer, ed. Eva Graul and Gerhard Wolf, De Gruyter Recht, 2002, pp. 655 - 664. Herberger's 10 theses succinctly describe the advantages of open-access publishing, and are not at all limited to scholarship in law. Also see this discussion of Herberger's theses, comparing his position to that of BOAI and SPARC. (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)

The January issue of Learned Publishing is now online. LP used to offer full-text free online but as of this issue only offers abstracts free online. Full-text back issues are still free. Here are the FOS-related articles from the January issue.

Vikas Kamat compares the two versions of EBSCO's Electronic Journal Service, EJS Basic (free) and EJS Enhanced (priced). (Thanks to LIS News.)

Michael Meier has just put the full-text of his Ph.D. dissertation online, Returning Science to the Scientists: Der Umbruch im STM-Zeitschriftenmarkt durch Electronic Publishing. In the next few days it should also be available at NDLTD. (PS: Don't confuse this with an alert about Meier's dissertation last July. That was only about the abstract, not the full-text.)

There is currently a vigorous discussion thread in the American Scientist Forum on whether Nature's new embargo policy (allowing authors to post the refereed and formatted postprint to their own web site but not to institutional or disciplinary archives) is good enough or not good enough.

Science should be free, despite national security concerns. So said the participants at yesterday's conference on national security and scientific openness at the National Academies of Science. Quoting John Hamre, president of the Center for Strategic and International Studies: "The political climate that we are in is leading toward imposing security regulations that, while they would provide precious little security, would seriously impair the progress and conduct of science." Quoting Ron Atlas, president of the American Society of Microbiology: "The best defense against anthrax or any other infectious disease is information." (Thanks to Terry Foreman.)

Wednesday's Silicon Valley / San Jose Business Journal reports that 500 books published by the University of California press are now available in free online editions. The collection of eScholarship Editions is searchable by author, title, and subject, and will grow to 1500 titles by fall. Licensing restrictions mean that some of the books will be accessible only to the UC community, but over 400 will be accessible to the general public. (Thanks to Colin Steele.)

In a letter to, "Open Access monopoly may threaten smaller journals", posted on 7 Jan. 2003, Gunther Eysenbach wonders why the article processing fees proposed by the PLoS are so high, three times more than the fees being charged by a small open-access journal that he edits, the Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR). He ends his letter with the comment that JMIR "is independent from BMC and PLoS - and it should stay that way".

Thursday, January 09, 2003

Cindy Cohn is a lawyer for the EFF. The Elcomsoft and DeCSS verdicts give her hope. "It feels a bit like the tide is turning in these copyright cases. It really feels like there is some sanity creeping in...Before, courts just rolled right over when companies cried 'piracy'. Now we're seeing courts take a closer look."

In today's Chronicle of Higher Education, Andrea Foster introduces the Creative Commons to academics. Michael Carroll, an assistant professor at Villanova University School of Law and member of the CC board of directors, argues that scientists and scholars are natural users of Creative Commons because they "are less interested in retaining all rights to their works than in seeing them widely distributed."

CLIR has just released a report, The State of Preservation Programs in American College and Research Libraries, by Anne Kenney and Deirdre Stam. (Thanks to ResourceShelf.)

More on the Boucher bill....Boucher's office has issued a press release on his reintroduction of the bill.

Wednesday, January 08, 2003

It may be old news, but I just learned about the Association of Peer-Reviewed Electronic Journals in Religion (APEJR). One condition of membership is that "Access to the electronic journal is free and unrestricted to everyone on the Web". (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)

(PS: It would be very helpful if every discipline had such an association. Not only would that create an organized voice for open access within every discipline, but it would make counting open-access journals and measuring overall progress much easier. Does anyone know of associations like APEJR in any other field?)

In the November 2002 issue of ICSTI Forum (just released), Barry Mahon has a short article on open archives, open access, and related issues and initiatives. Mahon is the executive director of the ICSTI and really should know his facts better. Two quick corrections: (1) "OAI" in capitals is not "the generic acronym for a set of computing based initiatives to make it possible to access content published on the web" but the specific acronym for the Open Archives Initiative. (2) It's simply false that "non-refereeing, not having peer review, [is] a principle of open access". Open access, as advocated by the Budapest Open Access Initiative, PLoS, SPARC, BMC, and others, is about peer-reviewed papers and their preprints. It is a damaging myth that it advocates bypassing peer review.

The new issue of the Online Information Review is now online. Here are the FOS-related articles. Only abstracts are free online. Here's the abstract of Mike Thelwall's article. "The importance of the Web as a new medium for disseminating and promoting scholarly research is discussed. Particular attention is paid to its potential to provide evidence of wider impact for research than that which can be shown by citation analysis. Recommendations are made for basic strategies for the reporting of the online impact of research leading to the production of what is termed a Web Invocation Portfolio. A conceptual framework is also proposed to help funding and promotion committees assess and compare portfolios."

The new issue of Library Hi Tech is devoted to the accessibility of online information for the disabled. Only the table of contents and abstracts are free online.

More on the Boucher bill....Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA) re-introduced the Digital Media Consumers' Rights Act into the new session of Congress yesterday afternoon.

More on cross-border censorship....The French trial of Tim Koogle started yesterday. Koogle is the former CEO of Yahoo, charged with allowing Yahoo auctions to sell objects unlawful in France but lawful in the US, where Yahoo is based. He is being tried in abstentia. In the first day of the trial, the prosecutor conceded that if Koogle is convicted, he should not be punished. But the prosecutor is still prosecuting, in order to establish a principle, and future defendants in Koogle's position might be punished. If France wins, then scientists and scholars may be prosecuted as criminals wherever their ideas are prohibited (think defenses of Darwinism, explorations of human sexuality, histories of the Tiananmen Square Massacre).

Southampton University invites public comment on its draft policy for self-archiving university research output. Southampton has also proposed the policy for adoption throughout the UK as part of the Research Assessment Exercise. Southampton is the home of the open-source eprints archiving software, the OpCit reference linking project, the Citebase impact analysis software, and other open-access innovations. Comments should be sent to draft policy thread of the American Scientist Forum on self-archiving.

(PS: This is an exemplary policy. It respects faculty freedom to publish where and when they please. It respects copyright. It respects journals and their traditional role in providing peer review. It is very short and simple --even simpler in non-RAE countries. It is easy and inexpensive to implement. And it would provide open access to the research output of every university adopting it. You already know the benefits: it will accelerate research in every field, put rich and poor on an equal footing, give new visibility to every participating institution, and give every researcher in such institutions a larger audience and impact. Every university and laboratory should adopt it. Submit it for consideration at your own institution and spread the word. If you have doubts or questions, submit them to the discussion thread and see how they are answered or consult the Self-Archiving FAQ.)

Bill Royle interviews Fred Von Lohmann, the senior intellectual property attorney for the EFF, in TechFocus.

Sébastien Paquet is doing a survey on the usefulness of weblogs and wikis for sharing knowledge.

LIS News has unearthed Free as Air, Free As Water, Free As Knowledge, a wonderful Bruce Sterling speech to the Library Information Technology Association from June 1992. (The title is a quotation from Melville Dewey.) In this excerpt he imagines late 20th century objections to Ben Franklin's idea of a free lending library. "[M]aybe you're an idealistic nut, Mr. Franklin. Not only that, but you're menacing our commercial interests. What about our trade secrets, Mr Franklin? Our trademarks, copyrights, and patents. Our intellectual property rights. Our look-and-feel. Our patented algorithms. Our national security clearances. Our export licenses. Our FBI surveillance policy. Don't copy that floppy, Mr. Franklin! And you're telling me you want us to pay taxes to support your suspicious activities? Hey, if there's a real need here, the market will meet it, Mr Franklin. I really think this 'library' idea of yours is something better left to the private sector, Mr Franklin. No author could possibly want his books read for free, sir. Are you trying to starve the creative artist?"

Tuesday, January 07, 2003

Chris Sherman reviews the top search-engine stories of 2002 in SearchDay.

More on the Illegal Art show, now in New York....Chris Nelson reviews the exhibition for today's New York Times. Works in the show include parodies, quotations, borrowings, knock-offs, and music sampling, all without the permission of copyright holders. So far no lawsuits, not even a cease-and-desist letter. (PS: Nelson treats the show more as a political statement or legal challenge than an art exhibition. Fair enough. But if the exhibition is supposed to show the kind of vibrant art that we'd have in a world with less restrictive copyright law, then it would be help to hear an art critic's assessment of the art.)

The Center for Democracy and Technology reviews the top news events from 2002 affecting civil liberties online.

The presentations from the forum, Free access to truth? Scientific publication in the internet era (Brussels, October 21, 2002), are now online.

The presentations for the seminar, Open Archives for Research (University of Ghent, October 15, 2002), are now online.

On December 31, 2002, UNESCO released a report, Harnessing Science to Society, to assess the progress since its 1999 World Conference on Science which issued a public declaration supporting open access and many specific scientific goals. For the report's brief coverage of open-access issues, see Section 5.5 (p. 27).

Ruralia: Revue de l'association des ruralistes français has just made all its back issues freely available online. (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)

More on the DeCSS case....A Norwegian court has acquitted Jon Johansen on all charges. Johansen wrote the DeCSS software to bypass copy protection on DVDs in order to view his own purchased copies on a Linux machine. The court found that he infringed no copyrights and that others who use DeCSS for the same purpose are acting within the law. (Thanks to Jason Bobe.)

(PS: This is an important blow to the DMCA, which prohibits circumventing copy protection for any reason. Now circumvention for fair use is lawful in Norway, as it should be everywhere. Next questions: what other countries will follow Norway, and can Hollywood invent a business model compatible with fair use and consumer rights?)

Monday, January 06, 2003

Emily Somma has written a new book about the adventures of Peter Pan and published it Canada, where the copyright on the Peter Pan stories expired in 1987, 50 years after the death of author Sir James Barrie. But in 1929 Barrie transferred his copyright to the Great Ormand Street Hospital for Sick Children, and a subsequent act of Parliament granted the hospital the right to royalties "in perpetuity". Somma not only wants to challenge copyright overreaching, but distribute her book in the U.S., where the original copyright has not yet expired. Anticipating a challenge to her plan, Somma has preemptively sued the Great Ormand Street Hospital in federal court in order to establish her right to distribute the book in the U.S. In court she's represented by Elizabeth Rader and Lawrence Lessig from the Stanford Center for Internet and Society (CIS). For deails, read the CIS FAQ or the news accounts in Reuters or the Associated Press.

(PS. This case is only partly about challenging countries like England where copyrights can be perpetual. It's also important for clarifying the rules about exporting works from countries in which they are in the public domain into countries in which they are still under copyright. In another case raising the same issue, the European copyright is expiring on some classic jazz, opera, and rock 'n' roll albums, while the U.S. copyrights are still valid. Neil Turkewitz of the RIAA has said that "[t]he import of those products [into the U.S.] would be an act of piracy." If Somma wins her Peter Pan case, or if the European music exporters win theirs, then for the first time we will see an economic incentive for nations to adopt shorter copyright terms than the rest of the world, reversing the destructive logic of copyright term-ratcheting and global "harmonization" initiatives.)

Maureen O'Sullivan, Making Copyright Ambidextrous: An Expose of Copyleft, Journal of Information Law and Technology, December 6, 2002. Abstract: "The phenomenon of free or open source software (OSS) has garnered increasing attention in the legal field over the past number of years. It provides a paradigmatically different model of software development and marketing than proprietary software, which has traditionally been protected by copyright, and latterly, also by patent law. Licensing styles of free or OSS vary greatly from the very permissive, where users can privatise their modifications, to the quite restrictive, where programmers are obliged to contribute any changes they make to a communal software pool, which forms a species of expanding virtual commons. Examples of the former include BSD Unix licences and of the latter the GNU General Public Licence (GNU GPL), well known for being the licence used for the Linux operating system. This Article distinguishes between free software and OSS, discusses free and OSS licensing, comparing a BSD licence with the GNU GPL in order to illustrate the varying parameters which different programmers put in place to protect their programs. It also analyses the efficacy of the GNU GPL both from strictly legal and broader socio-legal perspectives. It concludes that this licence has facilitated an efficacious and productive management of what could otherwise have turned into an obsolete and deficient commons."

In the January 10 Chronicle of Higher Education, Andrea Foster reports on Elsevier's policy to delete discredited articles from its databases. Many other publishers follow the same policy, though scholars question its wisdom. Quoting Mark S. Frankel, director of the program on scientific freedom, responsibility, and law at the American Association for the Advancement of Science: "I don't think people should take scientific material and make it disappear, especially if it's gone through peer review. There should be a digital trail which allows these things to be seen, observed, and studied." While the Elsevier policy does not let readers know that the article was discredited, and therefore to stop citing it, other publishers like the American Physical Society and the American Geophysical Union keep discredited articles online and link them to corrections or charges of scientific misconduct.

More on the RIAA letter to college presidents....The ACRL open letter defending the legality of P2P file sharing got a brief notice in the January 3 LA Times, probably 0.001% of the press attention paid to the original RIAA letter. (Thanks to ResourceShelf.)

In the January 3 USA Today, Susan Roth brings mainstream attention to the NSF's National Science Digital Library. "More than 100 teams of educators nationwide are working with the National Science Foundation to develop what they hope will be the nation's most comprehensive digital library for the sciences." (Thanks to ResourceShelf.)

In the January 3 New York Times, Adam Clymer argues that the Bush administration attitude toward public access to past and present government records is the most restrictive in recent memory. Many of the new Bush-era restrictions were proposed or established before September 11.