Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, April 10, 2004

Two new pieces in the Nature OA debate

There are two new contributions to to the Nature OA debate.

OCLC to harvest DSpace for non-OAI reharvesting

OCLC has launched a project to harvest metadata from participating DSpace repositories and make it available in a non-OAI format for reharvesting by non-OAI services like Google. (PS: This subtracts nothing from OAI interoperability and adds greatly to the visibility of OAI-compliant resources, or at least the DSpace subset of them. According to OCLC's announcement page, it has an April 9 press release on this project, but the link is dead at the moment. I include the link here in case it revives later.)

Globe and Mail on Lessig's Free Culture

David Akin, Righting copywrongs, the Globe and Mail, April 10, 2004. Akin summarizes Lessig's experience convincing Penguin and to release Free Culture as a free download under a Creative Commons license. It is noted that Free Culture at one point held 36th position on Amazon's best-seller list. "'Here's Amazon trying do one thing: sell books. So why are they giving away a book that they're trying to sell? I think they understand, too, that this is a good way to get people into buying the book,' Lessig said." MP3 recordings of the book made and posted by various indivdiuals are also documented. Rev. A.K.M. Adam (aka AKMA,) one of those who led a movement to make audio versions of the work, commented: "This is one of the counter-intuitive lessons that the U.S. needs desperately to learn from a legal institutional point-of-view and that capitalist business enterprises need to learn for their own advancement and that is that freely available works on-line are not antithetical to highly produced, packaged, refined versions of the work through conventional venues." (Source: Scripting News)

Friday, April 09, 2004

Chinese researchers explore plan for federated searching

Kimberly Patch, Net plan builds in search, Technology Research News, April 7/14, 2004. Huazhong University scientists are working with an experimental system that aims to combine web and database searching into one interface, called the Domain Resource Integrated System (DRIS). They explain how this can be integrated into the public internet in a preprint, Make search become the internal function of Internet, posted to (Source: Marcus Zillman)

More on the trade embargo on scientific edidting

The Association of American University Presses (AAUP) has issued a press relase, First Amendment Problems Remain in Wake of Latest OFAC Pronouncement, April 5, 2004. The AAUP objects that OFAC continues to deny that the Berman amendment (exempting "informational materials" from trade embargoes) applies to scientific editing. Moreover, the OFAC approval of IEEE's methods of editing submissions by foreign nationals may not apply to methods used by other journals and publishers. "Particularly troubling is OFAC's continued insistence that 'collaborative interaction' between the publisher and foreign author is prohibited....Most importantly...OFAC intends to continue to assert licensing authority over publishing activities --authority that we believe is denied to it by the express language of the Berman Amendment, as well as the First Amendmentís protection of the freedom of the press." (PS: Agreed.)

Google partners with universities to mine invisible academic literature

Jeffrey R. Young, Google Teams Up with 17 Colleges to Test Searches of Scholarly Materials, Chronicle of Higher Education Daily Update, April 9, 2004. MIT and 16 other institutions are collaborating with Google, who, pending the success of the test project, will activate a feature that enables searching of online repositories such as DSpace. MacKenzie Smith of MIT is quoted. "A lot of times the richest scholarly literature is buried" in search-engine results, said Ms. Smith. "As more and more content is on the Web, it's harder and harder to find the high-quality stuff that you need." The universities extensive use of metadata and OCLC's involvement in developing a search configuration for the test promise a highly useful search tool across multiple collections.

Clifford Lynch recognized

Clifford Lynch will receive the ALA's 2004 Lippincott Award, which "recognizes an individual for distinguished service to the profession of librarianship." Lynch is the executive director of the Coalition for Networked Information and has written extensively on institutional repositories, among other topics. Congratulations, Cliff!

More on the range of Berkeley OA news

An unsigned story in the April 8 issue of the UCBerkeleyNews reports on Berkeley's new institutional membership in PLoS, the Wired Rave award for Berkeley biologist Mike Eisen and the two other co-founders of PLoS, and the exemplary systemwide UC institutional repository.

New Open Access Now

The April 12 issue of Open Access Now is now online. This issue features a report on efforts to provide the public with OA information about ongoing clinical trials, a news story on the encouraging results of the OA experiment at Oxford University Press, a brief report on the oral evidence at the UK inquiry, BMC's comprehensive list of links to written submissions to the UK inquiry, and a profile of Current Controlled Trials.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Biomedical Digital Libraries, new OA journal

Biomedical Digital Libraries announces its launch on BioMed Central and issues a call for papers. The journal will deal with "all aspects of digital library content and usage in biomedical settings, including academic medical centers, research and development institutes, and health care institutions." (Source: Peter Scott's Library Blog)

OFAC embargoes: a postscript

Stephen H. Miles, U.S. Blockade of a Conference in Cuba, Science 304(5668), 207 (9 April 2004). (Access restricted to subscribers.) About a month ago, the U.S. Treasury Department Office of Foreign Assets Control allegedly discouraged U.S. scientists from attending a conference in Cuba (see earlier postings.) Miles attended the conference anyhow, and comments: The interdiction of U.S. academic participation in this conference harms U.S. interests. Few scientific meetings foster dialogue between developing countries, such as Brazil and Chile, and wealthy countries, such as Sweden and Germany. Experiences with SARS and antiretroviral therapies show that it is a myth that the medical problems or technologies of richer and poorer countries can be separated. Furthermore, the United States is a multicultural society, and encounters between health professionals from around the globe are critical to improving multicultural health care and to decreasing U.S. health care disparities. Miles also refers to the now moot OFAC ruling on editing scientific publications from embargoed countries.

ACS Chemical Information Section Symposia on Scholarly Communication

EngLib posts information on three symposia coming to the American Chemical Society meeting in Philadelphia, August 22-26, 2004, and organized by the ACS' Chemical Information Division.

Cultural scholars look at OA in context

Naomi S. Baron, Rethinking written culture, Language Sciences 26(1), 57-96 (January 2004). (Access restricted to subscribers.) In an extensive essay on the computer's impact on how we perceive and make written culture, Baron includes a section "5.2. Challenging attributes of written culture," which mentions rethinking notions of copyright and gives a passing reference to open access:
how do you motivate authors to create new works (from which they can benefit financially) while at the same time making those works readily available to promote the common good? The issue of open access is particularly salient in the US, where commitment to public interest is embedded not only in national policy but in the American psyche. Nowhere are these presumptions about the right to free access clearer than in the computing community. The role of hippies and communes in creating some of the earliest computer bulletin boards for freely exchanging information is well known ...
A bit of a caricature, perhaps. Baron also mentions Stevan Harnad and self-archiving in the context of rethinking the whole idea of publishing.

New Nature journal free to those "who qualify"

The Nature Publishing Group has launched a new journal on methodology called Nature Methods. It's not OA, but it's offering free subscriptions to chemists and life scientists from North America, Europe, or the UK "who qualify". It's not clear who qualifies, even from the web site.

Scirus the one for scientists

Kristen Philipkoski, Turning Search into a Science, Wired News, April 8, 2004. The news article points out for scientists the benefits of searching Elsevier's Scirus, a scientific search engine, as opposed to Google. "Scirus is a search engine for scientists that allows them to dig through not just scientific journals, but also unpublished research, university websites, corporate Internet sites, conference agendas and minutes, discussion groups and mailing-list archives." The author goes further to mention that Scirus crawls "167 million" scientific web pages. The search engine is free, and while it searches some open access sources, many of the results are from subscription-based resources such as Elsevier journals. (My experience with Scirus was to find an excessive number of duplicate results...Maybe this has been improved...)

Review of Free Culture and the Anarchist in the Library

Farhad Manjoo, The mouse who would be king, Salon, April 8, 2004. (Free after watching a commercial.) Manjoo reviews Lawrence Lessig's Free Culture and Siva Vaidhyanatha's The Anarchist in the Library: How the Clash Between Freedom and Control Is Hacking the Real World and Crashing the System, two books that argue against current copyright laws. "It is difficult to read either of these books without worrying that the authors have already lost the fight," the reviewer writes despairingly. Much of the piece hinges on the idea that the Disney company gets the most benefit from the copyright extensions, and Manjoo points out the irony noted in Lessig's book that Disney made his first Mickey feature borrowing and parodying material from a Buster Keaton movie. (Source: Techdirt)

ALPSP/Charlesworth awards 2004

ALPSP has announced the ALPSP/Charlesworth Awards for 2004 and is calling for nominations, including self-nominations. The deadline for ALPSP awards is June 1. The deadline for ALPSP/Charlesworth awards is June 11.

Launch of Research Blogs

Today marks the launch of Research Blogs, a communal blog for M.A. and Ph.D. students writing theses and dissertations, sponsored by the Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations.

CHE letters on high journal prices

The Chronicle of Higher Education has finally (April 9) published three letters to the editor in response to Christopher Reed's February 20 article, Just Say No to Exploitative Publishers of Science Journals (accessible only to subscribers). One is from Bill Schwert, an editor of Elsevier' Journal of Financial Economics, observing that the literature is costly to produce and, inconsistently, criticizing Reed for publishing in a toll-access publication. One is from Catherine Cocks, Executive Editor at the School of American Research Press, agreeing with Reed and hoping that the library savings from OA journals will help rebuild collections in the humanities and social sciences. The third is from Eric Merkel-Sobotta, Elsevier's Director of Corporate Relations, repeating the familiar canards, e.g. that "the traditional subscription model...has evolved over hundreds of years to meet researchers' needs" and that OA journals use an "author-pays" model, are not economically sustainable, and compromise peer review. (PS: The best single-source answer to Elsevier's position is BMC's careful refutation of 11 common myths about OA.)

More on the end of the trade embargo on scientific editing

Sophie Rovner, Government ends editing embargo, Chemical & Engineering News, April 7, 2004. A brief overview of the controversy and recent decision.

More on Scopus

Anon., Scopus to challenge Web of Science? Access, March 2004. Excerpt: "Elsevier is developing a bibliographic database called Scopus, which several industry observers believe will compete with ISI's Web of Science for library dollars. At the heart of Scopus is the world's largest abstracts database of over 12,900 journal titles from 4,000 publishers providing access to over 25 million abstracts going back to 1966 and 5 years of reference back years, building up to 10 years by 2005....Throughout the development phase, librarians and researchers were unanimous in their requests for a comprehensive resource to eliminate duplication of content, and provide seamless access to full text. So, at the heart of Scopus is the biggest A&I database of scientific literature ever assembled....And to ensure nothing is missed, Scopus simultaneously searches the scientific web using the science-only internet search engine, Scirus [which includes many OA sources]."

Introduction to The European Library

Britta Woldering, The European Library: Integrated access to the national libraries of Europe, Access, March 2004. Excerpt: "The European Library (TEL) Project [was] completed at the end of January 2004. The key aim of TEL was to investigate the feasibility of establishing a new Pan-European service which would ultimately give access to the combined resources of the national libraries of Europe....The European Library service will be a portal which offers integrated access to the combined resources of the national libraries of Europe. It will offer free searching for both digital and non-digital resources and will deliver digital objects - some free, some priced....The publishers' view on The European Library is mixed. On the one hand, they see the possibility of new distribution channels by including their networked electronic publications in the national bibliographies and consequently in the catalogues of the national libraries. On the other hand, they fear that their commercial interests could be jeopardised."

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Whether Prometheus offers OA

The Prometheus network of image archives has triggered controversy by claiming that it offers "open access" while restricting user rights even further than "fair use" and threatening criminal punishments for copyright violations. In a (German-language) discussion on the H-Museum list, Klaus Graf argues that Prometheus is not providing OA, while Holger Simon argues that it is. For further developments in the debate, monitor Graf's Archivalia blog.

OA debate at UKSG meeting

IWR Staff, Open access sets UKSG alight,, April 8, 2004. Excerpt: "Delegates at the annual UK Serials Group conference, held this year at UMIST in Manchester, debated open access (OA) publishing in a lively conference session, which pitted OA publisher Public Library of Science against a sceptical small university publisher. Several speakers at the event claimed that the OA model is economically weak, but is likely to act as a catalyst for the industry as a whole, driving traditional publishers to respond to changing market conditions....Nick Twyman of Public Library of Science (PLoS) said there was nothing intrinsic in OA which changed the peer-review process, and that journals would continue to be judged by the quality of the literature they publish. 'The long-term goals of PLoS are economic sustainability and for OA to become the favoured mode of publishing, but not necessarily the only mode,' he said. Michael Held of Rockefeller University Press was sceptical. PLoS has not made its financial plan public, but in Held's view the model was not sustainable without philanthropic support."

More on BMC's myth-debunking document

Bobby Pickering, BioMed Central hits out at open access 'myths',, April 8, 2004. Excerpt: "The UK's leading open access publisher, BioMed Central, has issued a hard-hitting riposte to what it calls the 'myths' that have emerged from the House of Commons select committee investigations into Scientific Journal Publishing."

Anthology on electronic publishing and open access

Katja Mruck and Gudrun Gersmann, Elektronisches Publizieren & Open Access, Zentrum für Historische Sozialforschung, 2004. An anthology of essays. On his Archivalia blog, Klaus Graf provides links to OA versions of most of the essays, at various sites around the net.

lack of permanent web links

John Whitfield, Web links leave abstracts going nowhere, Nature 428, 592 (08 April 2004). (Access restricted to subscribers) Nature reports on recent studies documenting the impermanence of cited web resources. Jonathan Wren of Oklahoma showed that one-fifth of the web sites noted in Medline abstracts over a ten-year period had vanished. Robert Dellavalle's study of broken links in NEJM, JAMA and Science from 2003 is also mentioned (see earlier OAN posting,) with the author remarking: "Journals aren't doing anything to address the potential for electronic resources to disappear. ... It's amazing what doesn't exist ó one of my own articles on digital preservation isn't there any more!" Further, the article quotes arXiv's Paul Ginsparg, who maintains that external links in papers posted on the site are discouraged. Solutions are considered, including author's archiving web resources to which they link, perhaps through the Internet Archive. CrossRef is also suggested as a way to stabilize URLs.

Call for proteomics repository

John T. Prince et al, The need for a public proteomics repository, Nature Biotechnology 22, 471-472 (2004). (Access restricted to subscribers.) A commentary on the Open Proteomics Database and other efforts at aggregating protein expression, mass spectronomic and other protein data in open access repositories, pointing out that openly available data is a small portion of total data.

A global, OA information resource for biodiversity researchers

Jill O'Neill, Barbara Bauldock, and Bonnie Lawlor, MetaDiversity III: Global Access for Biodiversity Through Integrated Systems, NFAIS, April 2004. A summary of findings from the third in a series of symposia sponsored by the U.S. Geological Survey and NFAIS. Excerpt: "The goal of these ambitious interactive workshops has been to identify, discuss, and resolve challenges facing the biodiversity research community in their efforts to create a global information resource." Perhaps not surprisingly, many of the proposals for this global resource would make it OA, and many of the projects that would form its components are already OA.

More on the end of the trade embargo on scientific editing

John Dudley Miller, US reverses journal embargo, The Scientist, April 7, 2004. Quoting the Treasury Department: "OFAC does not regulate the important peer review process, [or] the process of style and copy editing, with respect to scholarly papers submitted by authors in a Sanctioned Country." Quoting Mark Seeley, counsel for Elsevier and chair of a group of publishers considering suing the Treasury Department: "It does not resolve the fundamental issues about US government intervention in scholarly publishing." (PS: For once, I agree with Elsevier. By issuing a general license to exempt scientific publishing from trade embargoes, the government retains the power to withdraw the license and presupposes that government-licensed science is compatible with the First Amendment. See my argument against this position, from SOAN for 22/2/03.)

As if OA presupposed that OA is costless, one more time

Rick Anderson, Open access in the real world: Confronting economic and legal reality, C&RL News, April 2004. Excerpt: "Any proposal that is built on the premise that information is inherently free, or that online publication can be undertaken without significant cost, will not work in the real world because both of those premises are demonstrably incorrect." (Thanks to Gary Price.) (PS: No OA proponent argues that OA is costless. OA proponents have always acknowledged that peer-reviewed research literature has costs, and merely argue that there are better ways to recover those costs than by charging for access.)

Mapping scientific data

Mapping Knowledge Domains is a special supplement to the April 6 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Many of the articles raise OA issues, either by tracking OA collections or making use of OA literature as data to learn about scientific trends. Only the TOC and abstracts are free online, at least so far. However, the articles in this supplement are the proceedings of a year-old conference, Mapping Knowledge Domains (Irvine, California, May 9-11, 2003). If you don't have a PNAS subscription, the conference web site has links to PPT slides and webcasts. If you want more than that, then see the detailed press release, summarizing many of the articles.

OA to ALA publications

Jason M. Griffey, The Perils of Strong Copyright: The American Library Association and Free Culture, April 2004. A Master's thesis in library science submitted to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Excerpt: "The ALA has thus far gotten away with talking about Open Access, while actually doing very little from within to follow the tenets themselves....So what steps should be taken in order to rectify this? First, the ALA should begin to open its publications, and find a way to shift costs from a subscription model to an alternative model....The ALA should also have a blanket understanding of copyright, and should allow the author to retain copyright to his or her work."

Update to preservation and access report

CENDI and ICSTI have updated their report, Digital Preservation and Permanent Access to Scientific Information: The State of the Practice (originally February 2004, latest update April 7, 2004). Section 4.4.1 is devoted to Open Access, and 4.4.2 to Institutional Repositories. (PS: Despite the recent updates, the authors still call me "Stuber".)

OA to primary literature may stimulate the market for secondary literature

Adam Hodgkin, A topsy turvy e-world, The Bookseller, April 1, 2004 (accessible only to subscribers). On recent changes that affect the fortunes of ebooks and electronic libraries. Excerpt: "The first sea change is that the 'open access' model (primary research being freely available without constraint) for content distribution is taking strong hold in the area of scientific, technical and medical publishing. While most publishers are worried by this --especially if they have profitable lists of specialist scientific periodicals-- it can be argued that the development is a hugely positive and encouraging one for the publishing and library community as a whole....If the open access model for STM periodicals takes over, there will be a redistribution of resources within institutions and between publishers....One of the effects of this substitution will be a lot more material being published. We may also predict a rapid growth in added-value services; among these, the provision of more secondary publications which abstract, assess, cite and measure or increase the accessibility of all the free, open access, primary literature. There will be yet more scope for added value from those publishers and aggregators who can provide access to textbooks and reference work in the broadest sense. There will be more interest and value in services that integrate, synthesise and digest the results of primary research. Libraries which, as a result of open access, spend less on providing access to high-quality scientific literature may be able to buy in secondary resources that review and distil the primary materials." Hodgkin is the president and co-founder of xrefer.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

On link resolvers and facilitating access to electronic content

John McDonald & Eric F. Van de Velde, the Lure of Linking, Library Journal, April 1, 2004. Excerpt: "Reference linking is necessary because library and information users today expect to move seamlessly among library content and information on the Internet. Libraries present users with disparate databases, different user interfaces, various searching capabilities, and changing institutional subscriptions. Reference linking is largely succeeding in removing these barriers." (Source: Diglet)

Precursor to CC and perhaps OA

Matt Haughey, Woody Guthrie free culture, Creative Commons weblog, April 5, 2004. Haughey relays a message from a friend quoting Woody Guthrie's copyright notices, which were either way ahead of their time or in the spirit of 1790, as CC might put it.

listing of free online content resources for psychology students

Martin Terre Blanche, Free online journals, Collaborative Learning Environments, April 2, 2004. Blanche solicits suggestions of freely accessible research sites for one of his collaborative learning courses. He lists six, including Genamics Journal Seek, Social Science Online Periodicals (of UNESCO) and Open Access Journals in the Field of Education. Visitors contribute other sites worth browsing. (Source: EDU RSS Search)

Automating permission requests for postprint archiving

Tilburg University has added a very nice feature to its institutional repository. When a journal does not permit postprint archiving, then the repository still includes a record containing a citation and a link to the publisher's priced or for-fee edition. The record also contains an explanation of the publisher's policy, quoting and dating the publisher's own words if possible. With one click, the author can generate a letter to the publisher asking permission to deposit the postprint in the repository. Backend software automatically addresses the letter to the right human contact at the publisher and provides a full citation to the article. The letter concludes, "If I do not hear from you within thirty days I will assume that you have no objections to the above-mentioned request and the electronic copy will then be included in the institutional repository of the University of Tilburg." See this example. Leo Waaijers of Tilburg reminds us that the site is still under construction.

Proposed new format for the SHERPA database

Stevan Harnad is proposing a new format and color scheme for the SHERPA database of publisher policies on copyright and archiving. If you have comments, send them to the American Scientist Open-Access Forum.

More on the end of the trade embargo on editing

Jeanine Aversa, U.S. OKs Editing of Foreign Manuscripts, April 5, 2004 for the Associated Press and syndicated in many papers. A brief overview.

National Academies providing free online access to developing countries

The U.S. National Academies now provides free online access to their research reports and journals to over 100 developing countries. Excerpt from yesterday's press release: "This National Academies initiative stems from heightened interest among scientists around the world in the institution's work and in scientific and technical information in general. The U.S. National Academy of Sciences is a member of the InterAcademy Panel (IAP), a worldwide network of 90 science academies that counsel governments and everyday citizens on major global issues such as sustainable development and infectious disease. The IAP has identified equitable access to scientific information and bridging the 'digital divide' as major priorities. And it designated April as the time to begin setting and implementing national science agendas that were recommended in a major report issued by the IAP's InterAcademy Council in February at the United Nations." (Thanks to ResourceShelf.)

More on lifting the trade embargo on scientific editing

Lila Guterman, U.S. Lifts Policy That Restricted Publishing in Journals by Scholars in Embargoed Countries, Chronicle of Higher Education, April 6, 2004 (access limited to subscribers). Excerpt: "The U.S. Treasury Department has ended months of confusion among scholarly publishers by ruling that an engineering society may edit, without restriction, articles written by authors in countries under trade embargoes. The apparent reversal of government policy, which previously had forbidden editing without a special license, should also allow other scholarly publishers to edit articles written by authors from countries like Cuba, Iran, Libya, and Sudan."

Monday, April 05, 2004

Trademark on the phrase "open access"

In December 2003, NMS Communications released a product called "Open Access". At the bottom of the press release, the company said that "NMS Communications, Open Access, and PacketMedia are trademarks of NMS Communications Corporation." The NMS web page on Open Access repeats the trademark claim and describes OA as a "comprehensive product framework for creating next-generation voice, data, and video applications and services."

(PS: I've been collecting links to companies that use the phrase "open access" for products that are not OA in our sense. I'd be happy to share them sometime. I've always thought that our success will give them headaches, as consumers ask why their OA products aren't free of charge. If NMS faces this problem down the road, it will be its own fault for choosing a name to which we had long since given a specific and different meaning. But NMS is the first company I've seen to claim a trademark on the phrase. I plan to continue using it as I have in the past, and will keep you posted on whether I hear from NMS lawyers.)

More on the lifting of the embargo on scientific editing

The IEEE issued a press release today, IEEE Scores First Amendment Victory for Scholarly Publishing. Excerpt: "The government's decision confirms the position IEEE has argued for over a year that its entire publishing process falls outside the scope of OFAC's regulations because of the Berman Amendment to the trade sanctions law that excludes the free exchange of information from OFAC's economic embargoes.... 'Effective immediately, IEEE is returning to its normal publishing process for all authors, which has always been IEEE's goal,' said IEEE President Arthur Winston....'The ruling eliminates potentially disturbing U.S. government intrusions on our scholarly publishing process and reaffirms the position IEEE has taken from the beginning that these publishing activities are protected by the First Amendment and exempt from the OFAC regulations,' Winston said." The press release includes a link to a scanned copy of the Treasury Department's April 2 decision. For background, see the IEEE web page on the controversy. (Thanks to Gary Price.)

More on Kahle v. Ashcroft

Andrea Foster, Scholar Sues for Free Online Access to Out-of-Print Books, Chronicle of Higher Education, April 9, 2004 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt: "A prominent legal scholar has filed a federal lawsuit in an attempt to allow old books and films to be placed in Internet archives where anyone can use them freely. The scholar, Lawrence Lessig, a Stanford University law professor and cyberspace theorist, is challenging copyright law on behalf of two Internet archives that scholars use and are helping to develop....[The Internet Archive and the Prelinger Archives] ask the court to declare as unconstitutional, when considered collectively, the Copyright Act of 1976, the Berne Convention Implementation Act, and the Copyright Renewal Act. The plaintiffs also want the court to declare as unconstitutional, when considered together, the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act and the Copyright Renewal Act....At issue in the lawsuit, filed last month, is the accessibility of so-called 'orphan' works: out-of-print books and old films, videos, and scholarly articles that have no apparent commercial value but are inaccessible to the public because of copyright restrictions....The plaintiffs argue that scholars and others are being denied widespread access to creative works over the Internet because of burdensome and outdated copyright laws." (PS: To follow new developments, see the Stanford Center for Internet and Society web page on the case.)

ClusterMed for PubMed/Medline

Paula Hane, ClusterMed Organized PubMed, Information Today, April 5, 2004. Excerpt: "Vivísimo, Inc., a provider of clustering and meta-search software for organizing search results, has announced the release of ClusterMed, a new research tool that allows biomedical and life sciences researchers to search the MEDLINE database far more productively and efficiently." ClusterMed is not free, but offers a 30 free trial to the full service and permanent free access to a limited edition. (PS: This is another case of the rule that when content is free, online, and useful, third-parties will develop tools to enhance it and make it even more useful --even if the tools are not themselves free.)

Federal preemption, open source, and open access

Michael Warnecke, NASA Will Become First Agency to Get OSI Certification of Open Source Agreement, BNA Electronic Commerce & Law Report , March 31, 2004. In the U.S., software and research produced by government employees is not copyrightable. That's good news for the free exchange of software and research. But open-source licenses typically require copyright-holder consent, not the public domain. So how can goverment-produced software use those licenses? After some legal analysis, NASA has decided that while its software cannot be copyrighted, it can be licensed, and it will take advantage of this fact to release its software under open-source licenses. This strategy depends on some court rulings that state contract law, which governs licenses, is not preempted by federal statutes, which govern copyright. My take: it's good news that NASA software will be released as open-source, but bad news that other agencies might use less generous licenses to control downstream use of their uncopyrightable content. And despite its effects on open-source software, I still believe that federal preemption would be better than the lack of federal preemption for open-access research.

More on the end of the trade embargo on editing

An unsigned story in the April 5 New York Times recaps the Treasury Department decision. Excerpt: "The federal government has eased a ban on editing manuscripts from nations that are under United States trade embargoes, a move that appears to leave publishers free once again to edit scholarly works from Iran and other such countries. The Treasury Department sent a letter on Friday to a lawyer for the Institute of Electronic and Electrical Engineers, an international group representing more than 360,000 engineers and scientists, saying the organization's peer review, editing and publishing was 'not constrained' by regulations from the department's Office of Foreign Assets Control."

Sunday, April 04, 2004

Scholarly communication as a commons

Most of the presentations from last week's Workshop on Scholarly Communication as a Commons (Bloomington, Indiana, March 31 - April 2), are now online. The workshop doesn't have a web site, but has deposited most of the workshop papers into the Digital Library of the Commons, where Frederick Emrich found them and listed them for his commons-blog. (Thanks, Frederick.)