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Margaret Prabhu, Stephen Crothers and Shirley Sullivan, Electronic journal access in an academic library revisited, The Australian Library Journal. About priced ejournals, but relevant for the reminder that electronic and online aren't nearly enough. (Thanks to Charles Bailey Jr.'s Scholarly Electronic Publishing Weblog.)
Germany is set to impose a copyright levy of about US $13 on each new computer sold in that country. The money would go to a fund to reimburse copyright holders for unauthorized copying. (Thanks to C-FIT.) For some history on this, see FOSN for 8/31/01 (scroll to the third story). What I can't tell is whether the copyright levy on hardware will come with universal permission to copy. If so, that's a big gain for a small cost and users should decide whether it's a bargain. Hardware manufacturers oppose the plan and actually prefer DRM. If the levy does not imply permission to copy, then which copying does it cover? If it covers copying without prior permission, then users will simply stop asking for permission, and convert all copying to pre-paid copying. If it covers copying without pre-payment, then that begs the question. What does the levy pre-pay? The German plan needn't be this paradoxical, but the news accounts I've seen so far don't explain how the plan would continue to distinguish authorized from unauthorized copying.
Rep. Bernie Sanders, an Independent from Vermont, has introduced the Freedom to Read Protection Act, which would require the FBI to have reasonable cause before searching or seizing library or bookstore records. That is, it would roll back the standard embodied in the USA Patriot Act to that embodied in the Fourth Amendment to the constitution. Sanders has 23 co-sponsors for his bill, one Republican and the rest Democrats. (PS: If federal courts were on the job, legislation would not be necessary to protect the constitution. A federal court should simply overturn the unconstitutional standard in the Patriot Act. But where are the courts? Even if courage has vanished, what about professionalism?)
Russ Walter is the author of Secret Guide to Computers, a very thorough handbook with excellent reviews and healthy sales. The full text is online free of charge, and the same text is for sale in a printed edition. When the National Academies Press does this with its books, it finds that the free editions add more sales than they subtract, so that NAP profits. But it charges a competitive market price for the printed editions. When Walter does it, he charges less. "I'm not trying to make a profit. I'm just trying to make people happy --by charging as little as possible, while still covering my expenses. Instead of 'charging as much as the market will bear', I try to 'charge so little that the public will cheer'." In addition to giving away his copyrighted text, Walter gives permission in advance for users to make copies, to give away or sell the copies, and to add their own comments and call themselves co-authors. Finally, he publishes his home phone number and offers free tech help on any computer question at any hour of the day. This is serious sharing.
Richard Gallagher has an editorial in the March 10 issue of The Scientist, Will the Walls Come Tumbling Down? Half the piece is on the open-access journals forthcoming from the Public Library of Science. The PLoS "editorial board reads like a Who's Who of the biology community" and if its journals are successful, then the open-access model "will trigger a seismic change in academic publishing". The other half is on the defensive strategies of traditional journals, which are liberalizing their copyright and self-archiving policies, though perhaps not enough to meet the open-access competition. "Now that there is a choice of publishing model, the wishes of the author community remain to be seen. Over to you...."
Information Access on the Wide Open Web, an interview with RLG President and CEO James Michalko in the current issue of Ubiquity, the ACM IT Magazine. Why is a magazine for professional computer scientists interviewing the head of a professional association of research libraries? Quoting Michalko: "I think the whole set of cultural memory institutions represents an opportunity for the CS community. They'd be very willing partners. They've got complicated problems that make some of the industrial applications that people are working on seem pretty easy....[For example] we hired a young woman out of industry when the dot-com bubble burst. We were talking in a meeting about recasting our big Union Catalog and somewhere about 90 minutes into the meeting, she said, 'I'm sorry to interrupt, but I need to understand this. You mean you've got nearly 700 gigabytes of descriptive data that's all been structured in exactly the same way?' We said, 'Well, yes, that's what a library does.' And she said, 'I've never heard of such a thing. You could do some really interesting forms of retrieval and presentation.' She became very excited about what you could do with that data." (Thanks to Shelflife.)
Energy PolySearch Engine Dr. Péter Jacsó has created a new web search "tool" especially if you're searching for material in the area of energy science. Here's how he described it ... in a recent e-mail, "...if one needs to search and retrieve effectively and for free a few million abstracts (and in some cases full text records) for scholarly articles about energy science and technology..." Searching is about as straightforward as it gets. Enter your search term(s) into the box, then select the databases you want to search (15 are available), and how you want the result windows displayed. A page of results will open for each database searched. (Thanks to Dig_Ref Listserv)
In the March 4 IT-Analysis, Bob McDowall reports that ebook copying may grow, especially among impecunious students and institutions, even if it never becomes as common as music copying. One of his recommendations to curb the practice is to charge fees to borrow ebooks, even when no fees are charged today. No joke. (Thanks to LIS News.)
ALPSP is conducting a survey of journal publishers on their prices, licensing terms, and policies on issues such as author retention of copyright and self-archiving. The survey has no date or due date, so I can't tell whether this is old news. The premise of the survey seems to be that the open-access movement is getting one-sidedly favorable treatment in the press. "The media has reported increasing concern that the market for published scholarship and research is not working effectively. Disquiet is evidenced by the Public Library of Science initiatives, the establishment of SPARC and PubMed Central and the publication of the 'Budapest Manifesto'. Much of the commentary in the press, listservs and conferences is wild and often inaccurate about the role and responsibility of scholarly publishers."
You've probably heard that in the last two weeks Overture has bought both Alta Vista and FAST's AllTheWeb. Overture leads the search category that it calls "pay-for-performance", but which should be called "pay-for-rank", "money-before-relevance", or "lucrative distortion". Until now, Alta Vista and AllTheWeb were two of the best uncorrupted search engines, but definitely under the shadow of Google. In today's Information Today, Barbara Quint makes clear what many of us feared, and what earlier reports couldn't confirm, namely, that Overture will not only merge Alta Vista and AllTheWeb but convert them to the pay-for-rank model. This will make them as good as useless for research, and reduce the competition among objective search engines. Fortunately, Google is financially secure and publicly committed to resist the pay-for-rank model. Of course, serious scholarly search tends to use specialized search engines, such as those customized for OAI-compliant archives. But Google and its former competitors were the best hope for the billions of pages not within the scope of the specialized search engines. More coverage.
In the March 1 News.com, Mark Lemos reports on the Berkeley DRM Conference. "[E]xperts from all circles seem to agree that more is going wrong than right with the current approach to protecting digital content. Moreover, they argue that current laws such as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act --which makes cracking copyright protections illegal, even when otherwise acceptable under other laws-- are serving the extremes, not the mainstream populace."
The first 2003 issue of Online Information Review is now online. Here are the FOS-related articles. Only abstracts are free online.