Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, April 05, 2003

The Spring issue of Walt Crawford's Cites & Insights is now online. This issue contains some reflections by Walt and his readers on the Creative Commons, a dialogue with Jenny Levine of The Shifted Librarian, and a round-up of copyright news including bits on Eldred, the Lofgren bill, and DRM.

EPS has written a report on the recent International Workshop on Open Access and the Public Domain in Digital Data and Information for Science (March 10-11, Paris). The report is free to members of the ALPSP, but I'm not a member. If anyone with access would like to send me a fair-use summary of its highlights, I'd be glad to distribute it through the FOS Forum.

Friday, April 04, 2003

The St. James Music Press publishes sheet music in priced, printed books. But it has a nice policy: when you buy one of its books (or at least one of its books in a certain series), you buy permission to copy the contents and share the copies with others. (PS: Open access can be thwarted by price barriers or by permission barriers, usually both. Some publishers remove the price barriers without removing permission barriers, e.g. making a work free to read but not to print, or free to copy once but not multiple times, or free for personal web sites but not for public archives. St. James Music Press is removing permission barriers without removing the price barrier. It's not open access, but it's half of open access and very creative.)

Caution to open-access providers. When print sales of his book, Real World Adobe GoLive 6, began to wane, Glenn Fleishman made the book into a PDF file and put it on his web site for any interested reader to download without charge. The free edition turned out to be very popular, and he had more than 10,000 downloads in first 36 hours alone. Trouble is, Fleishman buys bandwidth incrementally from his ISP and may have to pay $15,000 at the end of the month for these downloads. He's taken the file offline while he thinks about what to do. (PS: Check with your ISP before hosting an archive, deposit your content in an existing archive, put multiple copies at multiple sites, or as Cory Doctorow recommends in this case, use P2P. It doesn't have to work out this way.)

Thursday, April 03, 2003

SPARC has created a Catalan version of Create Change, its wide ranging web site on the serials pricing crisis and how scholars and librarians can help alleviate it.

More on the state-level DMCAs....The MPAA-backed bill is facing informed and persuasive opposition in Massachusetts. Quoting an anonymous software expert at a legislative hearing yesterday: "When you've got Verizon, the American Electronics Association, Harvard Law School and the ponytail gang all against you, then you've got a problem."

Steve Hitchcock has created two extremely useful web pages amounting to a comprehensive and up-to-date directory of OAI-compliant, open-access eprint archives. The Core metalist of open access eprint archives lists the major lists of archives by type. The Metalist of open access eprint archives is the same list with helpful annotations. The first will be updated more regularly than the second. Having a definitive metalist or directory will help users find archives and help activists measure the progress of the movement. Thank you, Steve!

Wednesday, April 02, 2003

Libraries and consumers are objecting to new, harsh anti-circumvention statutes being adopted in many of the states. These "state DMCAs" are designed to limit copyright infringement, and to add state remedies, including imprisonment, to federal existing remedies. But either from hasty drafting or overreaching, the state laws may prohibit encrypted email, encryption research, NAT firewalls, anonymous web surfing, reverse engineering, security testing, changing the file format of digital content, and the sale or use of any device --such as a computer-- which is "capable" of circumventing copy protection. According to Jonathan Band, a lawyer for the ARL, the state laws may even prohibit viewing or listening to radio, television, or internet content without the express permission of the content provider. State DMCAs have already been adopted in Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, and are under consideration in Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. The ARL has written a letter to legislators in Arkansas and Colorado, the two states closest to adopting state DMCA's, warning that the bills "will undermine the ability of libraries to provide important information services". The state bills are based on model legislation written by the MPAA. For more details see Declan McCullagh in C|Net News or Andrea Foster in the Chronicle.

Tuesday, April 01, 2003

UKOLN has received a grant from JISC and the Wellcome Trust to study "existing web archiving arrangements and to determine to what extent they address the needs of the UK research and FE/HE communities" and to make "recommendations on how the Wellcome Trust and the JISC could begin to develop web archiving initiatives to meet the needs of their constituent communities". The study will include a legal analysis of web archiving by the University of Britol's Centre for IT and Law. (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)

Abby Smith, New-Model Scholarship: How Will It Survive?, CLIR, March 2003. From the preface: "CLIR hosted a meeting of scholars, librarians, archivists, technologists, publishers, and funders to discuss the preservation of digital scholarly resources. The goal of the workshop was to identify the needs of various stakeholders—Web site creators; distributors and publishers of digital materials; representatives of archives, libraries, and repositories that want to collect these sites and make them available; end users; and anyone in the chain of scholarly communication who might want to discover and use these works for their own purposes—and to agree on common approaches to meeting those needs." Also see Appendix 1: Organizational Models for Digital Archiving. (Thanks to ResourceShelf.)

The February issue of the American Society for Cell Biology Newsletter has two important articles on open-access publishing: (1) Gary Ward, The Crisis in Scientific Communication: A View from the Trenches and (2) Suzanne Pfeffer, The ASCB's Commitment to Free Access Publishing.

Quoting Ward: "[N]o publisher of which I am aware has provided credible evidence demonstrating that [free] access to its content after a reasonable delay would be financially damaging....[S]cientists need to acknowledge that a fundamental conflict of interest exists when copyright ownership of the scientific literature is held by parties whose primary interest is profit, rather than dissemination of scientific knowledge."

Quoting Pfeffer, the President of the ASCB: "[T]he [ASCB] Council determined at its May 2002 meeting that any renegotiated agreement with publishers to offer their journals to the ASCB membership must include free electronic access within six months after publication....Join me in supporting free access to content within a short time after journal publication. Our tax dollars and private foundations pay for the research; we give our hearts and souls to science, and we should not be doubly taxed by unreasonable and mounting subscription costs for either our labs or our libraries."

Koïchiro Matsuura, the Director-General of UNESCO, spoke at the recent Paris conference on Open Access. He has now put a summary of his UNESCO remarks online. Excerpt: "The new economic and technological environment is raising concerns about the erosion of access to certain information and knowledge whose free sharing facilitated scientific research and education in past decades....It is in this spirit that UNESCO has prepared a Draft Recommendation concerning the Promotion and Use of Multilingualism and Universal Access to Cyberspace which will be submitted for adoption to UNESCO’s General Conference at its next session in the autumn 2003. It will then be presented to the first World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in Geneva at the end of this year." The two chief points in the draft recommendation are (1) the "development of public domain content" and (2) "the equitable balance between the interests of rights-holders and the public interest". (Thanks to Milad Doueihi.)

Monday, March 31, 2003

The International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) is circulating a draft IFLA Manifesto on Open Access to Scholarly Literature and Research Documentation. Join the conversation on the BOAI Forum, the American Scientist forum, or the FOS Forum. For example, see my comments and the response of Alex Byrne, the manifesto's author. Byrne is the University Librarian & Deputy Chair of the Academic Board at the University of Technology, Sydney.

The Columbia Guide to Digital Publishing now has an online edition. It doesn't cover open-access publishing in particular but seems to cover every technical aspect of electronic publishing and therefore could be applied to open-access ventures. It isn't free, and isn't even close. One year of access costs $99.95. One day's worth goes for $6.95. However, many of its auxiliary features are free online, such as the table of contents, glossary, bibliography, and index. Judging from the freebies, the guide instantiates first-rate navigation and searching practices, which gives confidence in the content.

G.E. Gorman, The problem is access, the solution is infrastructure, Library Link, March 2003. Excerpt: "Perhaps at last there is movement in this direction. As Fred Friend (2002) indicates in his recent article on access, there are moves afoot to set up easily-used document delivery services and to develop barrier-free access models. He maintains that new purchasing models, better library cooperation, electronic document supply, new payment models ands new routes to content are indicators that publishers are paying greater attention to users than in the past. Indeed, this is so, driven in part by electronic access and the way this allows direct user-resource interface in a way not contemplated a few decades ago."

Sunday, March 30, 2003

Colin Steele, Phoenix rising: new models for the research monograph? A preprint in the ANU E-Press Archive, forthcoming from Learned Publishing, 16, 2 (2003) pp. 111-122. Abstract: "There is significant evidence that traditional university presses are continuing to face financial crises. Outlets for research monographs are drying up, print runs are being reduced and monograph costs are increasing. The combination of the digital networked environment and open-archive initiatives may, however, provide the opportunity, through institutional repositories, to rethink the role and nature of the distribution of research monographs in a university setting. The adoption of new models, untrammelled by the structures of the past, while still retaining editorial and refereeing standards, could revolutionize the access and distribution patterns of research knowledge within university frameworks. Ultimate success will depend, however on programmes of scholarly advocacy in scholarly communication with the academic author as both creator and as consumer."

Since the EU Council decided in May 2001 to provide open access to its non-classified meeting papers, the public has been taking advantage of the opportunity. "The number of requests for access to EU Council of Ministers documents has doubled to 2,394 since the entry into force of the legislation and 80 per cent of these demands have resulted in full disclosure." Some member states, like Sweden, Denmark, and Finland, and some press organizations, like Reuters, think the EU policy should go further to open up the process of its decision-making and educate the public about its deliberations. (Thanks to QuickLinks.)