Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, February 22, 2003

Why are Democrats supporting copyright extremism rather than traditional constituents, like consumers, and traditional issues, like freedom of speech? Brendan Koerner tries to figure it out in the January/February Washington Monthly, and to assess the political costs Democrats will pay for betraying old friends. He concludes with this note: "Note to the Democrats: The dinosaurs got creamed." (PS: A careful analysis except on one point. Democrats are not monolithic on these issues, and some still support consumers and digital freedom. Yes, Hollings, Berman, and Biden are Democrats, but so are Boucher and Lofgren.)

Cambridge University has adopted DSpace. "Dspace@Cambridge will allow academics to pool resources, including theses, technical reports and archives, with formats ranging from databases to multimedia clips and teaching material." In addition, the Cambridge and MIT libraries are collaborating on a two-year series of seminars to help other UK universities adopt open-access archives.

Friday, February 21, 2003

What if your research were relevant to a court proceeding, but the court ordered that anything revealed in the hearing should be gagged forever? What if the reward for undertaking socially useful research was court-ordered silence? This is happening to two Cambridge University computer scientists whose encryption research may help London's High Court of Justice figure out how two accused thieves hacked ATMs to learn PINs and steal money.

In the February 10 Indo-Asian News Service, Papri Sri Raman describes John Willinsky's personal campaign for open access to knowledge in India (another link). Quoting Willinsky: "People's access to knowledge is actually decreasing instead of increasing....There are online journals that cost at least $3 to just access once, and are made available for just a few hours at a time. Only a limited number of academic papers are available online free of cost....Although new technology has made access possible, fewer academic journals are available to the reader." Willinsky is the director of the Public Knowledge Project at the University of British Columbia.

At the Intel-hosted Digital Rights Summit yesterday, Lawrence Lessig argued that broadband streaming of music and multimedia will decrease downloading and file sharing, and therefore that it would be a mistake to change copyright law to reflect today's levels of downloading. Faster connections will make many of today's debates irrelevant, including those about encryption and copyright. Quoting Lessig: "In the future, it will be easier to pay for subscription services than to be an amateur database administrator who moves content from device to device. We're legislating against a background of the Internet's current architecture of content distribution, and this is a fundamental mistake." More coverage.

Thursday, February 20, 2003

Charles W. Bailey, Jr. has released version 47 of his authoritative Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography. The new version cites over 1,800 books, articles, and printed and other online sources on the electronic publication of science and scholarship.

In the February 10 BioIT World, Kevin Davies sketches the history and mission of the Public Library of Science.

The Cooperative Digital Resources Initiative (CDRI) has announced nine grants to digitize texts and images for the cooperative, open-access archive. The initiative is sponsored by the American Theological Library Association and funded by the Luce Foundation.

In the March issue of Scientific American, Gary Stix introduces the Creative Commons. Unlike other brief introductions, this one goes beyond the sharing-friendly licenses to the importance of making the licenses machine-readable. (PS: You know how to search for texts or images relevant to your work. But without CC, or without limiting your search to open archives, how could you search for something relevant that you're allowed to use without further permission?)

David Dickson, founding director of the Science and Development Network (SciDev.Net), has written a succinct introduction to his organization in BioIT World. Excerpt: "Pressures are also growing for more equitable access to scientific information, particularly in the new era of electronic publishing of scientific journals. Many scientists in [developing] countries, for example, are enthusiastic supporters of the Public Library of Science, which recently announced plans for free electronic journals in biology and medicine." (Thanks to Shelflife.)

In an posting from last August I said that PlanetMath was edited by Nathan Egge and Aaron Krowne. I'm pleased to be able to correct this misinterpretation. Aaron Krowne writes that "PlanetMath is not 'edited' at all in the traditional sense of the word. Peer review is done by members, and the 'last word' in changes to an entry belongs to the owner." Thanks, Aaron.

Wednesday, February 19, 2003

How does the University of Lund's Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) compare to the University of Regensburg's Elektronische Zeitschriftenbibliothek or Electronic Journals Library (EZB)? Lund's Sara Kjellberg has written a comparison of the two directories for the inetbib list. (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)

Less than a week after the Budapest Open Access Initiative launched its discussion forum, the American Library Association has announced the creation of ScholComm, a discussion list on scholarly communication. The list will embrace "topics such as open access to scholarly information, new models of scholarly publishing, increasing journal prices, copyright law and policy, related technologies, and federal information law and policies that impact the access of scholars, students, and the general public to scholarly information." ScholComm discussion will begin February 24.

Tuesday, February 18, 2003

The multimedia presentations from the conference, Open Access to Scientific and Technical Information: State of the Art and Future Trends (Paris, January 23-24), are now online. This was one of the most important FOS conferences in a long time, and it's a joy to have 36 separate webcasts of the proceedings, as well as a good number of text files, PDF files, and PPT slides.

Kate Thomes has written an account of the SPARC-ACRL Forum at the ALA Midwinter Meeting (Philadelphia, January 25), including summaries of the presentations by Mark McCabe, Theodore Bergstrom, and Mary Case. McCabe and Case's powerpoint slides are available from another page.

Monday, February 17, 2003

More on Palladium....Subscribers to the Chronicle of Higher Education can participate in a live online colloquy, Should Colleges Embrace or Fear Microsoft's New Security System? on Thursday, February 20, at 2 p.m. CHE has arranged for Brian LaMacchia to answer readers' questions. LaMacchia is a software architect in the Microsoft trusted-platform-technologies group and has a Ph.D. in electrical engineering and computer science from MIT.

More on scientific self-censorship....Bernard Lang has posted to the FOS Forum the full-text of Nature's the forthcoming editorial statement on its decision to suppress information that might be helpful to terrorists. Excerpt: "We recognize that on occasions an editor may conclude that the potential harm of publication outweighs the potential societal benefits. Under such circumstances, the paper should be modified, or not be published."

The Chronicle: Control Issues. "Colleges would decide whether to buy Palladium-capable software and hardware, and then whether to activate Palladium's security functions. But practically speaking, they would face enormous pressures to do so, especially if publishers of books, journals, software, and other electronic "content" were to adopt Microsoft's standard to deliver their materials online. The publishers could dictate that colleges had to use Palladium or else be denied access to the material. That worries many in academe, who believe that publishers would use Palladium to bar some uses of digital materials to which scholars argue that they are entitled under copyright law." [via Slashdot]

About my Guide to Philosophy on the Internet. The good news is that the ALA called it one of the Best Free Reference Web Sites of 2002. The bad news is that the press of other work has forced me to stop updating it. However, I'm leaving it online and its contents --purged of dead links and merged with the contents of Hippias and Noesis-- will reappear as part of the online library of philosophy of the International Association for Computing and Philosophy.

Congress has approved the Library of Congress' ambitious Plan for the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP). The approval enables the library to build the first phase of a national infrastructure for the collection and long-term preservation of "America's cultural and intellectual heritage in digital formats". For more details, see the LOC's press release or Scott Carlson's story in today's Chronicle of Higher Education.

Gary Simons and Steven Bird, Building an Open Language Archives Community on the OAI Foundation, an arXiv preprint forthcoming in Library Hi Tech 21(2), 2003. Abstract: "The Open Language Archives Community (OLAC) is an international partnership of institutions and individuals who are creating a worldwide virtual library of language resources. The Dublin Core (DC) Element Set and the OAI Protocol have provided a solid foundation for the OLAC framework. However, we need more precision in community-specific aspects of resource description than is offered by DC. Furthermore, many of the institutions and individuals who might participate in OLAC do not have the technical resources to support the OAI protocol. This paper presents our solutions to these two problems. To address the first, we have developed an extensible application profile for language resource metadata. To address the second, we have implemented Vida (the virtual data provider) and Viser (the virtual service provider), which permit community members to provide data and services without having to implement the OAI protocol. These solutions are generic and could be adopted by other specialized subcommunities." (Thanks to Jim Rodgers.)

"The 'serious public harm' of the Eldred decision, in the words of Justice Stephen Breyer's powerful dissent, will be felt in the absence of hundreds of thousands of works that would now be freely available for use by scholars, students and the general public. In the longer term, the Court's failure to place free-speech limits on an ever-more-voracious copyright regime spells danger, if not disaster, for creativity and the rights of consumers." From Andrew Shapiro's January 30 comment in The Nation. (Thanks to Action PD.)

Sunday, February 16, 2003

Michael Hagmann and Nik Walter, Alle wissenschaftlichen Publikationen sollen gratis im Internet zugänglich sein, fordern Forscher und nehmen das Heft selbst in die Hand, Sonntag Zeitung, February 16, 2003. Rough translation of the title: All scientific publications should be available free of charge on the internet, and researchers should take control of scientific journals. (Thanks to BioMed Central Update.)

More on scientific self-censorship....The editors of 32 leading science journals have agreed to be vigilant for "dangerous" research articles that might give assistance to terrorists. The definition of dangerous research is itself a challenge for which the editors have agreed to take responsibility. But when editors judge that the risks outweigh the benefits, they will either not publish a paper or ask for its modification first. At the same time, they agreed that science should regulate itself, and not be regulated by government, and that they would not damage science itself by suppressing the kinds of details that enable other scientists to replicate results. Finally, the editors agreed that "It is also true that open publication brings benefits not only to public health but also in efforts to combat terrorism.” Among the journal editors participating in the agreement were those for the Journal of the American Medical Association, Nature, the New England Journal of Medicine, and Science. The agreement was announced yesterday at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science by the AAAS President, Ronald Atlas, and summarized in a press release. The full text of the agreement will be published next Tuesday (February 18) in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and next Friday (February 21) in Science. The agreement is already getting extensive coverage in the press.