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Mike, Google Library Used To Undercut Google Print, TechDirt, June 17, 2005. Excerpt: 'Last month, in discussing how publishers were angry at Google for its book scanning project, we noted that Google had decided to scan some books without the publisher's permission, citing fair use rights. It turns out the situation is a bit more complex. What really appears to have happened is the collision of two different book scanning projects. The first, Google Print, was where Google partnered with publishers and promised them that the scanned books would (a) help sell more books and (b) more importantly, allow them to get ad revenue associated with contextual ads alongside any pages that people viewed. However, soon afterwards, Google tied this project with their Google Library project, where they were partnering with libraries to scan all of their books. In those cases, there was no revenue sharing argument. The benefit for the libraries is that Google pays the expense of digitizing their entire collection, which the library then gets to use. Of course, there's a potential conflict here, as Google can scan a library book, even though the publisher of the book refused to take part in Google Print -- or, even if they agreed to take part, but now they won't get the revenue share from the ads. In some sense, again, it comes down to a question of "ownership." The publishers view ownership from the intellectual property point of view, saying that they own the words, and no one can do anything with them without permission. The libraries, on the other hand, are viewing ownership in the more tangible sense, along with the right of first sale -- saying that, if they own the physical books, they should have the rights to do what they want with them. It's a fine line, of course, but given the way the courts have been acting lately, it would seem likely that they would side with the publishers -- and claim that the libraries were violating the publishers' rights in digitizing the books in the first place.'
Susan Kuchinskas, Google Library: Peril for Publishers? Internet.com, June 17, 2005. Excerpt: 'Google promises publishers they can earn money when searchers click on contextual ads that appear alongside the book pages. But book publishers were taken aback when they heard about Google Library, a project that had been under way since 2002 with the University of Michigan....The Library Project was positioned as an extension of Google Print, but some publishers saw it as more of a collision with it....Deals with Google were struck one publisher at a time, but they included restrictions on the amount of material from a work under copyright that Google could show in search results, maintaining a fair-use argument for the search engine's use. When searchers click on a listing, they might be able to read anywhere from several pages to only a few sentences containing the keywords....[A]ll the ad money would stay in Google's pocket...."Having reached these agreements with publishers for the use of books under their copyright, Google now announced they'd scan works from several libraries -- including works that are currently under copyright -- without requesting the permission of the copyright owners," said Allan Adler, vice president for legal affairs for the Association of American Publishers (AAP). "Imagine the consternation that caused among publishing houses who realized the possibility that books they had agreed to provide to Google under contract might nevertheless be scanned by Google without those agreements." Adler said AAP members were wondering why Google had sat down with them, then announced two months later that it didn't really need publishers' permission to scan....The AAP's Adler said the publishing community wasn't focusing on the murky fair use question, but rather on Google's plan to make money from books it hadn't bought. "Google's use of these copyrighted works in order to expand the kinds of responses it offers to users of its search engine is clearly going to be used to enhance its ability to sell advertising in conjunction with the operation of that search engine," Adler said....The crux of the copyright issue, according to Adler, is not whether supplying anywhere from a few sentences to a few pages of a book to searchers is covered by the admittedly murky fair use provisions of U.S. copyright law. Rather, the Library Project seems like a way for Google to profit off books without buying them.'
(PS: The true issue finally emerges. It's not fair use but profit sharing.)
The Russell Group of UK universities has issued a Statement on Scholarly Communication and Publishing endorsing open access. Here's the statement in its entirety:
PLoS Genetics will officially launch on July 25 but already has a couple of "sneak preview articles" online. See the PLoS press release (June 16): 'PLoS Genetics, a new open-access, peer-reviewed journal published by the Public Library of Science (PLoS), will premier on July 25, 2005. The journal is lead by the Editor-in-Chief, Dr. Wayne N. Frankel, a Senior Staff Scientist at The Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine. PLoS Genetics will capture the breadth and scope of quality genetics research from around the world. We invite you to judge PLoS Genetics for yourself by reading the two papers we are previewing from the first issue. Open access --free availability and unrestricted use-- to all articles published in the journal is central to the mission of PLoS Genetics. "Genetics and genomics research have lead the way for timely, open access policies to all types of biological data—it is high time that we applied the same principle to our papers and unleash our creativity to develop new ways to use the scientific literature," the editorial team says. The two papers released now report a gene involved in diaphragm defects in humans, and a community effort to annotate the genome of the yeast that causes thrush and other conditions.'
Dr T B Rajashekar, pioneer of Digital Library Movements, NewIndPress, June 18, 2005. An unsigned obituary. Excerpt: 'Dr T B Rajashekar, a well-known scientist in Library and Information Science working as Associate Chairman at National Center for Scientific Information, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, died a fortnight ago in an accident near Nelamangala. A native of Tarikere, Rajashekar achieved success in his career at a very young age because of his dedication to his work and subject and because of his hard work. He died on June 3. Due to his death, research in Open Access and Digital Library movements, prestigious programme of the country, has suffered a setback. Dr Rajashekar was often described as the pioneer of new generation librarianship in the country. He was instrumental in making many beginnings in the country and his contribution to digital library was remarkable....' (PS: Also see the short obituary by Vikas Kamat and the longer one by Subbiah Arunachalam and N. Balakrishnan.)
Joab Jackson, First draft of revised Data Reference Model released, GCN, June 13, 2005. Excerpt: 'The federal Data Reference Model working group released the first draft of the DRM Specification today. The working group is now soliciting feedback from government agencies before it submits the DRM to the Office of Management and Budget this fall. The release of the DRM draft is an "important milestone" in the federal government's efforts to better share information, said OMB chief architect Richard Burke. He spoke at the Data Reference Model Public Forum held today in Washington in conjunction with the federal CIO Council's quarterly Emerging Technology Components conference. "No one has tried this before at this scale," Burke said. "This will provide an open and well-documented standard that will enable the organization and categorization of government information in the ways that are searchable and interoperable across agencies....The DRM was designed primarily to give agencies a common framework to share data. The DRM can be used in conjunction with the National Information Exchange Model, a separate DHS and Justice Department effort to establish a basic terminology for marking data across all agencies. NIEM standardizes the language that two agencies can use to share data, while the DRM sets a standard format for describing sharable data that other agencies can discover and use, [Michael] Daconta [metadata program manager for the Homeland Security Department] said. "Today we move the abstract to the concrete," Daconta said of the release of the draft. "This is a detailed blueprint of how organizations are going to describe the structure, categorization and exchange of their information. This is not abstract anymore."' If you have comments on the new spec, attend one of the upcoming public meetings, subscribe to the DRM Public Forum, or click on one of the comment links scattered throughout the spec itself.
(PS: Note that "DRM" here means Data Reference Model, not Digital Rights Management. It's designed to promote sharing, not to hinder it. Because the other DRM's usual purpose and effect is to hinder sharing, and because it's already so well-known or notorious, the working group really should have looked for a different acronym.)
The University of Michigan has posted its contract with Google for digitizing seven million books from the Michigan library. (Thanks to Danny Sullivan in yesterday's SearchEngineWatch.) We all knew that Google would give participating libraries a copy of the digital files. But we didn't know whether the libraries would be free to provide open access to the files for the public-domain books. The Michigan-Google contract answers that question. Here's the relevant provision:
As I read this, Michigan can provide free online access to full-text, public-domain books for reading and printing. It can even allow individual downloads as long as downloading does not become "systematic" and downloads are not redistributed. Michigan must block commercial reuse and even crawling by other search engines. The contract expires on April 30, 2009, but section 4.4 is one of the sections that will survive the expiration or termination of the contract.
From a posting to the Outsell Now blog, June 16: '[Yahoo Search Subscriptions is] a ringing endorsement of Web search as the starting point for all research, even for the "serious" work-related and academic research performed by the users who are the target markets of these content providers. Despite their best efforts to adapt to a Web-centric information environment, these players have come to understand that they are leaving money on the table by not exposing their content to the vast number of searches conducted on the major search engines every day....It seems like just yesterday when Factiva acknowledged the importance of the Web by including Web results in Factiva searches. Now the tables have been turned: Factiva results will be in Web searches.'
PubMed Central is now mirroring and archiving 4 additional independent, Open Access titles hosted by BioMed Central. PubMed Central is just one of the international sites which provide mirror and archive services for Open Access content from BioMed Central. Other such repositories include the e-Depot of Koninklijke Bibliotheek (KB), the National Library of the Netherlands, Potsdam University in Germany, and INIST in France. BioMed Central is also a participant in LOCKSS (Lots of Copies Keeps Stuff Safe).PMCnews.]
"patientINFORM is a free online service that provides patients and their caregivers access to some of the most up-to-date, reliable and important research available about the diagnosis and treatment of specific diseases." (source: beSpacific)
Rüdiger Wischenbart, Google Print, or knowledge is power, signandsight, May 25, 2005. Excerpt: "Now Google is starting to expand its Print project to incorporate Europe and its various languages. It is promoting its plans at all major book fairs and contacting publishers. But rather than receiving widespread approval, the utopia of knowledge for all has raised a widespread outcry, with its starting point in France." (Source: Library Juice)
Michael Hart, Is Google Print Real? A listserv posting, June 14, 2005. Hart is the founder of Project Gutenberg, which provides OA to public-domain books. Excerpt: 'Today is the six month anniversary of the huge multi-million dollar media blitz announcing Google Print, the most important event since Gutenberg's invention of the printing press....One of the MAJOR CHANGES in Google Print seems to be that they have decided they're NOT GOING TO PROMOTE READING of those 10-15 million books they mentioned in their worldwide press releases. Instead it seems their first recommendation is going to be to click on some of the online bookstores they are promoting, and secondly they send us off to search in libraries. From: Google Print Help: "Google Print helps you discover books, not read them online....To read the whole book, we encourage you to use the 'Buy this book' link to purchase it online..." (These comments are neatly buried in the very middle of the help section, just about exactly half way through. #5 & #7.) Six months ago, we all heard that Google was going to revolutionize the entire concept of libraries with their new project at a rate of of 10,000 to 15,000 books per week which would yield over a quarter of a million books in their first 26 weeks at the lower rate, and a figure nearer half a million at the higher rate, even presuming the total was zero on December 14th. However, now it appears that Google has changed horses in midstream and replaced much of the actual "library" qualities of Google Print with "catalog" properties. . .they are now actually saying in their offical publications to "discover books, not read them online."' (Thanks to Charles W. Bailey, Jr.)
The U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) is proposing to digitize "a complete legacy collection of tangible U.S. Government publications" in order to "ensure that the digital collection is available, in the public domain, for no-fee permanent public access through the FDLP [Federal Depository Library Program]." For more details see the GPO's Report on the Meeting of Experts on Digital Preservation: Metadata Specifications. (Thanks to Charles W. Bailey, Jr.)
Bobby Pickering, US Congress fails to back ACS, Information World Review, June 16, 2005. Excerpt: 'The American Chemical Society has put a brave face on a snub it has received from the US Congress, which has refused to take its side in a dispute with the National Institutes of Health (NIH)....The ACS had hoped to put pressure on the NIH through Congressional supporters, but last week the House of Representatives' Appropriations Committee approved the annual NIH budget with only the slightest admonishment that both parties work together. The committee said it "urges NIH to work with private sector providers to avoid unnecessary duplication and competition with private sector chemical databases." The ACS declined the opportunity to speak to IWR this week, but issued a statement that it is "very pleased that the House Appropriations Subcommittee expressed concern about PubChem replicating private scientific information services. We will continue to work diligently with NIH toward a collaborative model and solution." Yet it is now difficult to see how it can develop a dialogue with the NIH and work towards a compromise solution, having already adopted such heavy-handed tactics. The ACS is noted for taking a bullish stance over the threat to its revenues from open access publishing. In December 2004, it filed a complaint in the US District Court of DC against Google for alleged trademark infringement of the CAS SciFinder Scholar brand and for "unfair competition". The US organisation is also under fire from some parts of the academic community for the levels of remuneration it awards employees. The not-for-profit organisation paid out 46% of its total expenses of $404m in salaries and fringe benefits last year, with its executive director receiving a total compensation package of over $1m.'
NIH creates nationwide network of molecular libraries screening centers. An NIH press release, issued today: 'The National Institutes of Health (NIH) today announced it is awarding $88.9 million in grants to nine institutions over three years to establish a collaborative research network that will use high-tech screening methods to identify small molecules that can be used as research tools. Small molecules have great potential to help scientists in their efforts to learn more about key biological processes involved in human health and disease. "This tremendous collaborative effort will accelerate our understanding of biology and disease mechanisms," said Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D., NIH Director. "More importantly, it will, for the first time, enable academic researchers to explore novel ideas and enable progress on a broad front against human disease."...Data generated from the high-throughput assays conducted at the screening centers will be made available to researchers in both the public and private sectors through the PubChem database.'
Canadian Civil Society organizations preparing for WSIS II drafted and yesterday released the Canadian Civil Society Communiqué. Excerpt: 'This consensus statement was adopted by Canadian civil society groups representing a diverse range of peoples, backgrounds, expertise, and perspectives. The group of 200 people met in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, on 13-15 May 2005 at a conference entitled "Paving the Road to Tunis," organized by the Canadian Commission for UNESCO...The purpose of the meeting was to canvass the views of the civil society organizations in Canada on the Plan of Action that emerged from Phase I of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in Geneva and the prospects for Phase II in Tunis. [PS: WSIS Phase I endorsed open access.]...We firmly maintain that democracy is reliant on an informed citizenry and civil society that has access to the data, information, knowledge and technology necessary to keep governments accountable....The Canadian government through its policies, programs and the working principles of its bodies and agencies, should provide example of no-cost, open and usable access to data, information and knowledge, created through the use of public resources. This should include providing access to primary data, to knowledge repositories, and to archives and other sources, at no cost and providing the means to ensure effective and widely available use of these resources....The Information Society should foster an environment of transparency and access among all levels of government, civil society and the public, including access to raw and geospatial framework data....Raw data from statistical, health, environmental and mapping agencies should be made available at no cost to citizens, civil society organizations, and to primary and secondary schools for non-commercial research purposes....[I]ntellectual property rights must balance the rights of creators with the rights of users. Copyright law must not create overly restrictive legal barriers to the fair use, access and copying of information....Canadian Civil Society supports Free, Libre and Open Source Software (FLOSS) and innovative intellectual property initiatives, such as Creative Commons, that enable users to have free access to, and build upon, existing tools and creations.'
David F. Strong and Peter B. Leach, National Consultation on Access to Scientific Research Data, National Research Council Canada, January 31, 2005. The final report of a government task force. Excerpt: 'The objectives of the National Consultation on Access to Scientific Research Data (NCASRD) are to recommend to Canada’s primary research funding agencies and organizations the actions necessary to maximize, through open access, the research and economic value, and public benefit of data gathered at public expense, as well as actions to preserve historically significant data as an historic record, and as a scientific and cultural asset for current and future research. The recommendations in this Report aim to generate workable solutions to the technological, institutional, cultural, legal, financial and behavioural barriers to such access....The NCASRD has been commissioned to recommend actions that only apply to digital data. We have excluded consultation on the issue of open access to research findings and published research results, even though the publication of results is often closely linked to open access to scientific research data. The issue of open and possible free access to research results and scientific papers is highly contentious but should become the focus of a dedicated national consultation in the near future....However, in the more restricted area of access to data [as opposed to literature], this discussion has reached sufficient intensity to warrant the signing of the International Declaration on Access to Research Data from Public Funding by most developed nations [including Canada], committing them to a more open data access regime....Our Vision of the research world in 2020: Canada is the centre of a global knowledge grid. It has become the desired nation with which to partner in research, because of its national system of open access to research data. Through this system and the collaborative culture it has generated, Canadian creativity and innovation are best in class worldwide. Open, but secure, access to powerful and globally assembled data has transformed scientific research. Researchers routinely analyze problems of previously unimaginable complexity in months, rather than decades, leading to revelations of knowledge and discovery that have enriched quality of life, transformed healthcare, improved social equality, provided greater security, broadened decision perspectives for social, environmental, and economic policy and advancement, and transformed the advancement of human knowledge....While Canada will not be alone in experiencing such a surge of innovation, the integrated strategy that we are recommending, and the early adoption of open access as a national priority, will guarantee Canada’s leadership position among research-intensive countries.' (Thanks to Richard Ackerman.)
Oliver Obst, Uni Bielefeld gegen Zugangsbeschränkungen: Open Access immer mehr verbreitet, med information, Number 3/4, 2005. A survey of recent OA developments in and out of Germany.
Elinor Mills, Yahoo ramps up 'deep Web' search effort, News.com, June 15, 2005. Excerpt: 'While most search engines crawl the Web and troll freely accessible sites, they cannot get into much of the so-called deep Web, vast amounts of data stored within paid and password-protected sites. Yahoo Search Subscriptions will allow search access to seven different subscription Web sites simultaneously....Yahoo users will be able to get access to ConsumerReports.org, TheStreet.com, The New England Journal of Medicine, Forrester Research, and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers [and others]. LexisNexis, Factiva and the Association of Computing Machinery subscription Web sites are expected to be added in coming weeks. Users of Yahoo's service must have subscriptions at the targeted sites to access the information, said Tim Mayer, director of product management at Yahoo Search....Yahoo users can add any or all of the subscription sites to their preferences on the search page and search for results from only the subscription sites, or have the subscription results appear along with results from the rest of the Web, he said.'
Update. Also see Gary Price's good article on the service in today's SearchDay. Excerpt: 'I'm sure Yahoo's new service will draw comparisons with Google Scholar. However, at this time, most of the Yahoo material (with the exceptions of ACM and IEEE) appears to be current events, news, and business oriented rather than scholarly or peer-reviewed. It's also interesting to see Yahoo work with not only publishers but also with content aggregators like Factiva and LexisNexis. That said, I'm sure Google Scholar will be offering access to more of this type of content in the future and very likely has deals with some of the same aggregators and publishers that Yahoo does. Likewise, I wouldn't at all be surprised to see more peer-reviewed/scholarly material in Yahoo. Yes, competition is a good thing for the searcher....Let's keep our fingers crossed and hope Yahoo decides to take all of this a step further and work with database providers so that the premium content that many people have access to FOR FREE via their local public, university, or corporate library (aka institutional subscriptions) becomes more easily accessible for these people. If you're unclear about what I'm talking about, many public libraries offer free access (for personal use) to fee-based databases from your home or office, such as I covered here recently. Google Scholar has already made some strong inroads in this area. Remember, these days the world of the library and librarian extends beyond the four walls of the library building.'
Silkworm is a new initiative from Talis to make library content more visible and accessible. Since the Silkworm site doesn't explain the service very well, see the Silkworm white paper (June 13, 2005) or Paul Miller's long blog posting (June 16) about it. Excerpt from the white paper: 'Project Silkworm is based on the concept that library vendors must now collaborate in order to begin to deliver better services. This focus on participation (of both vendors and users) permeates the whole project and is captured in four key values:  Sharing and community over duplication and isolation,  Reuse over reinvention,  Openness and interoperability over exclusivity,  Experimentation over certainty....Currently, the library market is structured in a high cost way with many vertical vendors and little horizontal specialisation. It will be too expensive for each player to provide an all-encompassing experience and the market should not have to bear the weight of each vendor duplicating this. Vendors will therefore need to work together. Indeed, it's the sign of any mature market that a horizontal structure is required to lower the total costs for all....The Talis Research Group has spent considerable time investigating possibilities for helping libraries to make content more visible and accessible to all and to give users the same quality experience they currently enjoy elsewhere. Under the banner of Project Silkworm, Talis has begun to create a Web 2.0 service-orientated network platform designed to discover, share and consume content that is currently hidden from the web. The platform can be considered as a coordination and access layer sitting above the hidden web that allows hidden web content to participate in the Web 2.0 paradigm and new applications to be built that have powerful architectures of participation to enhance the experience of users....The key aim of Project Silkworm is to remove the technical and cost barriers to building applications that share and use content....The multiple silos of content in the library and information world, and the potentially high cost of exposing them, is preventing the creativity, value creation and fantastic user experiences that should be possible today. The limitations of the situation are increasingly worrying as it becomes clear that the value that can be unlocked by breaking down the barriers between islands of information and making content work in many new and different ways is enormous.'
Today JISC announced a £4m funding program for institutional repositories throughout the UK. From the press release, Sharing knowledge, widening access: 'A repository is a digital store of principally research outputs and journal articles, but also potentially a wealth of other information, created by teachers, academics and researchers and made openly available to all who wish to access them. Their great advantage is that they enable the free sharing of information, encouraging collaboration and the widespread communication of UK education and research activity. In its 2004 report Scientific Publications: Free for All? the House of Commons Select Committee on Science and Technology hailed the creation of institutional repositories as a means of making research articles more freely available. Furthermore, it specifically praised JISC’s work in exploring new models for accessing and sharing such resources. Building on these and other recent developments, the twenty-three projects within the Digital Repositories programme will explore the many cultural, technical and management aspects of creating and managing institutional and other repositories. Although the development of repositories has up to now focussed largely on making accessible the outputs of the research community, this new programme will develop the concept still further by encouraging the growth of repositories for learning materials, data and much else.'
The text of a presentation which I gave yesterday at the American Society for Engineering Education's annual meeting is now available. In addition to Grey Literature there are some observations about the nature of early adopters of the IR technology.
Porter, George S. and Ramachandran, Hema (2005) Opening the Vaults of Academe. In: ASEE National Conference, Engineering Libraries Division, 11-16 June 2005, Portland, OR. http://caltechlib.library.caltech.edu/CaltechLIB:2005:002
The Summer issue of The Grey Journal is devoted to grey literature in institutional repositories. Unfortunately, only the TOC is free online for non-subscribers. Here are the primary articles:
Eric Wills, American Chemical Society Lobbies Against a Free NIH Database That It Sees as a Competitor, Chronicle of Higher Education, June 16, 2005 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt: 'A bitter squabble over [PubChem's] alleged duplication [of the ACS's Chemical Abstracts Service or CAS] has intensified in recent weeks, as Congress considers whether to cut money appropriated for PubChem. The possibility of such a cut alarms many scientists, who see PubChem as a valuable new resource....PubChem was created by putting into a central database publicly available data from academic institutions and government entities like the NIH and the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Recently, some public companies have also donated data....Francis S. Collins, director of the National Human Genome Research Institute at the NIH...likens the overlap between PubChem and the chemical society's database to that of textbooks sharing an index....Other scientists think a bit of rivalry is not such a bad thing. Christopher A. Reed, a professor of inorganic chemistry at the University of California at Riverside and a member of the [ACS], said, "A little healthy competition would probably do [the society] good."...Also hovering over the PubChem debate is the larger issue of whether the government should publish data that are not the result of its own research. Ms. [Madeleine] Jacobs [Executive Director of the ACS] wonders about the ominous consequences if the NIH "should...be the funder, creator, developer, disseminator, and archivist of all literature and databases." Dr. Collins said the scope of that question is too broad. "Precompetitive data, data of fundamental significance that doesn't justify strong intellectual-property protection or secrecy, this is data that wants to be public," he said. Scientists have reached a "pretty strong" consensus about this issue, he said. That government support for PubChem is under debate at all has angered some scientists, including Richard J. Roberts, a 1993 Nobel laureate in medicine. He recently pulled out of a conference sponsored by the chemistry society to protest its stance on PubChem. "Most databases benefit from government subsidies at one point or another," he said. Indeed, grants from the National Science Foundation helped start the society's database of chemical abstracts. "We live in a society that values openness, values transparency," he said. "I think the biologists...have done a much better job of promulgating those core values of society as a whole than have the chemists."...Thus far, the lobbying against PubChem has had little tangible effect. When budget writers in the U.S. House of Representatives released a draft this month of the NIH's appropriations bill for 2006, they decided not to call for a cut in funds for PubChem. Instead, the bill, which is to be considered today by the House Appropriations Committee, encourages the NIH to work with the chemical society to ensure that there would be no "unnecessary duplication or competition."'
Goldie Blumenstyk, University Researchers Worry as Pressure Builds in Congress to Reform the Patent System, Chronicle of Higher Education, June 16, 2005 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt: 'Congress is undertaking what may be the biggest overhaul of the United States patent system in more than 50 years, and the changes could significantly alter how colleges and universities publish their research and turn their inventions into commercial products. At least one official whose institution is a leader in patenting, Carl E. Gulbrandsen, says some of the proposed changes would be "a step backward for university patenting and commercialization efforts." Mr. Gulbrandsen, managing director of the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, criticizes a proposal to switch to a European-style or Japanese-style system, which awards patents to the person who is the first to file for a patent, rather than the person who can prove that he or she was the first to actually make the invention. Such a policy shift, he says, could force universities into "a race to the patent office" whenever researchers develop something that could be patentable. And unless Congress agrees to preserve the current system's grace period, which ensures that inventors can publish their findings without jeopardizing their eligibility to also receive a patent, he and others worry that the change could result in universities' either filing for fewer patents or feeling greater pressure to have researchers file for patents before they make their findings public. In the United States, an invention disclosed at a meeting or in a publication can still be patented, as long as the patent application on it is filed within one year of the disclosure.'
Laura Landro, The Informed Patient: New Help Making Sense of Medical Research, Wall Street Journal, June 15, 2005 (accessible only to subscriber). Excerpt: 'In the most ambitious effort yet to disseminate information about medical studies, a consortium of medical-journal publishers and patient-advocacy groups is unveiling a Web site to help consumers navigate the often bewildering world of health research. The objective of the new site, patientINFORM.org, is to present the most up-to-date and important research available about the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, heart disease and diabetes. The site will offer free access to selected medical-journal articles, and provide plain-language explanations of what the studies mean, how they compare with what's already known, and how patients should weigh them in making treatment decisions. The three groups involved in the patientINFORM project -- the American Cancer Society, the American Diabetes Association and the American Heart Association -- represent conditions that account for nearly two out of every three deaths in this country, and more disease groups may join. To select studies for the site, the groups will review hundreds of published medical studies each month from more than two dozen publishers whose journals include the New England Journal of Medicine and the Annals of Internal Medicine. They will use their own experts to interpret the research in lay language for consumers, and then along with the interpretations, the site will provide free access to the original journal studies that are otherwise available only by subscription. One major publication, the Journal of the American Medical Association, has elected not to provide free content on the site, but the disease groups still expect to independently publish summaries of JAMA research. The site, which is still in a pilot phase, will begin posting study findings next month.' (Thanks to Nick Manetto.)
(PS: patientINFORM provides OA to lay summaries or translations of research articles, not OA to research articles themselves. It's a valuable service but it does not make OA to research articles less necessary or less urgent.)
Update. The WSJ edition of Landro's article is no longer free for non-subscribers. But there's still a free edition available from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Henrik Egelyng, Evolution of capacity for institutionalized management of intellectual property at international agricultural research centers: A strategic case study, CheckBiotech.org, June 14, 2005. Excerpt: 'In contrast to the IP offices of private companies and semipublic entities, the objective of IRRI's [International Rice Research Institute's] IP administration was not to preserve the legal identity of innovations as intellectual property. On the contrary, for IRRI-generated innovations, the objective was to ensure that these innovations were put into the public domain. IRRI's policy on intellectual property combines IP provisions with provisions dealing with access to germplasm. Emphasizing free availability of germplasm and information, inventions, and biological material developed at IRRI, the policy provides for any necessity to seek IP protection in order to secure the availability of advanced biological technologies or materials to developing countries....Some universities around the developing world remain strictly public-sector institutions, providing public goods in the classical sense of the word and bringing their science to the public domain. To such a university, the term protection would mean to protect an innovation from being appropriated by any single private-sector or semipublic interest wishing to patent it. Universities in this category are found all over the world. However, there are probably far fewer such universities in this category today than just five years ago. The objective of any IP administration in this structural setting is not primarily a defensive one, with a view to destroy the novelty of innovations. Instead, the overriding objective is to bring new knowledge to the public domain based on scientific (rather than legal) criteria and merits. The editors are scientists, not lawyers. If an organization such as IRRI were to institute a defensive publication unit (DPU), contrary to the scientific journals in which the findings of IRRI researchers are reported, publications coming out of a DPU would not be edited by scientists and their peers. The staff of a DPU would collaborate with IP professionals not with a view to scientific merit, but rather to provide the specific details required to effectively make IRRI innovations prior art. The objective of a DPU would thus be to make enabling disclosures of IRRI science outputs, thereby making sure that IRRI outputs remain available in the public domain rather than being appropriated by others.'
Jack Kapica, Patents, copyright and signals from the sky, Globe and Mail, June 14, 2005. More on Canadian copyright reform, focusing on the consequences for academics. Excerpt: 'Word has it that the revised copyright bill has been formulated with an awful lot of input from Canadian subsidiaries of U.S. corporate interests, pushed further along by an insistent U.S. ambassador. It might make music-sharing illegal, but it's more likely to enrage the academic community, which will find itself incapable of photocopying documents or quoting from them for a much longer period of time than before, unless they are willing to pay their owners a lot of money first. Even with the current law, it's next to impossible to make money in academic publishing. The big worry is that our most important intellectual property might get crushed in the rush to satiate the corporate desire for ever-greater profits from their intellectual property. The principle of protecting one's intellectual property is a good one, but the tough U.S. law has actually thrown the relationship between fair use of intellectual property and rewarding its owners seriously out of balance.'
Turnovsky, Petra, Die Open Access – Bewegung und ihre Rezeption an wissenschaftlichen Bibliotheken in Österreich, a Master's thesis from the Donau-Universität Krems, 2004. In German but with this English-language abstract: 'As a reaction to the serials crisis a movement has formed, which aims at open and charge free access to scientific literature in the internet. Open Access can be achieved by selfarchiving or by open access journals, which are financed by author payments. This master thesis provides a survey about the current state of the art of the movement, about the different conditions in the scientific disciplines and the networked initiatives. The situation is considered from the libraries' point of view, focusing on science libraries in Austria. The instruments for retrieval were identified as a week point. An additional obstacle for Open Access is the importance of the citation rate when scientific publications are evaluated. Due to the installation of e-print-servers a new assignment for libraries has developed.' (Thanks to Archivalia.)
Marie-Christine Doffey is the new director of the Swiss National Library. Here's how she responded to an interviewer who asked about competition from Google. 'We have been watching [Google] very closely. European libraries discussed the plan and France intervened. A number of European countries also reacted and a large-scale digitization programme is being launched. The Google announcement was beneficial in that it made European libraries take a stance on digitization. What Google is trying to do is very interesting. But it's a very ambitious project – they're talking about 18 million digitized documents – and that raises a number of questions such as what type of documents will be digitized, how will copyright problems be resolved and how will the data be stored?...Google has power behind it. It is a competitor in terms of finance, technology, response to users' needs and anticipation of user demand. It is a competitor simply because we will never be able to launch new projects on such a large scale. On the other hand, we can draw inspiration from Google too and see what we can do better.' (Thanks to LIS News.)
T. V. Padma, India opens door to foreign science magazines, SciDev.Net, June 14, 2005. Excerpt: 'The Indian government has announced measures that should make it easier for foreign science publications to publish local editions. On 1 June, it announced that certain publications produced by Indian media groups could be funded entirely by foreign investment....Previously, foreign investment in non-news publications was capped at 74 per cent, a limit set in June 2002 when the then National Democratic Alliance government opened Indian print media to foreign investment. "The change from 74 to 100 per cent investment does not reflect a mere incremental change in numbers: rather it signifies that a new set of rules are in place which will help foreign science magazines set up Indian editions," says Rajesh Kochhar, director of the National Institute of Science, Technology and Development Studies. The change will not affect Indian research journals much because the government publishes them, points out an official from the National Institute of Science Communication and Information Research....Meanwhile, most Indian science enthusiasts — scientists, students or policymakers — often have to share a sole institutional copy of a foreign science journal or magazine, or use websites offering free access to research papers from the West to catch up on research news.'
Francis Jayakanth has been working on making legacy databases OAI-compliant. In February 2005 he finished a six-month Fulbright fellowship at Old Dominion University (supervised by Mohammad Zubair and Kurt Maly) focused on an OAI-compliant version of UNESCO's CDS/ISIS database for managing textual data. Quoting Jayakanth (personal correspondence): 'We have devised two approaches - Static and Dynamic, to make CDS/ISIS databases OAI-compliant. In the static approach, the database records are exported on to a file. This file is then converted to static repository xml file. This xml file can be ingested in to the Kepler system, a light-weight, self contained OAI-compliant tool for the individuals. Or, the xml file could be made OAI-compliant through the intermediation of static repository gateway. The static approach has found a mention in the above mentioned UNESCO's site. Since the static repository has certain limitations, we came out with the dynamic approach. This approach required developing a gateway program. This gateway program will accept OAI requests and translate the requests to corresponding search expression for the CDS/ISIS database, carry out the search, and translate the resulting set to xml format. The advantage of the dynamic approach over the static is that there is a real time interaction with the CDS/ISIS databases. We have set up a sample harvesting service for a few sample CDS/ISIS/isis databases using the Arc software....The metadata from sample CDS/ISIS databases were were harvested in...real-time, using the gateway software developed for the purpose.' (PS: Kudos to Jayakanth and the whole ODU team for this useful work.)
Ronald Sackville, Cultivating the Creative Commons, On Line Opinion, June 15, 2005. Reflections of an "old-fashioned, even Luddite" Australian judge on his country's retroactive extension of the term of copyright under pressure from the United States. Excerpt: 'Even from [my] limited perspective, it is impossible to avoid being struck by how rapidly (to use the words of Peter Drahos and John Braithwaite in their book Information Feudalism) there has been a transfer of knowledge assets from the intellectual commons into private interests....Despite the [U.S.] Supreme Court's ruling [in Eldred v. Ashcroft] and the willingness of Australian negotiators to accept the position of the US, it is extremely difficult to understand the policy justification for a further extension of the term of copyright, let alone the application of the extension to subsisting copyright....In his dissenting opinion in Eldred v Ashcroft, Justice Stevens, in words that echo the famous speech given by Lord Macaulay in 1841, pointed out that: Ex post facto extensions of copyright result in a gratuitous transfer of wealth from the public to authors, publishers and their successors and interests. The real sting in the tail of this comment is that for the most part, beneficiaries of the extension will not be authors or even the original publishers, but commercial entities which acquired the rights long before the extension....There are many commentators who have appreciated - in the words of James Boyle - that we are in the middle of the “second enclosure movement”, which he sees as exemplified by the recognition of patent rights in human genes. Peter Drahos and John Braithwaite draw a parallel between medieval feudalism and what they describe as "information feudalism". Under the earlier variety, a lord of the manor exercised not only private power by virtue of his ownership of land, but public power, though a system of manorial taxes, courts and prisons. In the modern form of feudalism, the transfer of intellectual commons has been to media conglomerates and integrated life sciences corporations, rather than to individual scientists and authors. The effect of this, they argue, is to raise levels of private monopolistic power to dangerous global heights, at a time when States, which have been weakened by the forces of globalisation, have less capacity to protect their citizens from consequences of the exercise of this power.'
Peter Hernon and Candy Schwartz, Open access to research, Library & Information Science Research, Spring 2005. An editorial. Not even an abstract is free online for non-subscribers.
Marydee Ojala, Open Access: Open Sesame or Opening Pandora's Box? EContent, June 14, 2005. Excerpt: 'Primarily, OA focuses on peer-reviewed, scholarly literature. Philosophically, the open access concept is relatively straightforward. It's all about scholarly literature being freely available to other scholars in order to facilitate scholarly communication and enhance scholarly research. The preponderance of "scholarlies" in that sentence was intentional. Think of open access as an alternative publishing mechanism for scholarly literature. It attempts to circumvent the high subscription prices traditionally associated with this publishing niche, particularly for scientific and technical journals. It also seeks to accommodate the natural desire of academicians to share their research with others and to build upon what their colleagues are discovering. In that sense, it's like an "Open Sesame" to scholarly literature for both the academic research community and ordinary people.'
(PS: This is a primer that tries to correct misunderstandings. However, it has an irritating number of misunderstandings of its own. OAIster, not OAI, is based at the University of Michigan. I write SOAN and do not merely edit it. OA is not a kind of business model; it's a kind of access compatible with many different business models. Gold or full-OA journals do not all charge processing fees; fewer than half of them do. Authors don't need the permission of publishers to link to articles. The limitations on search engines are not lmitations on OA. Ojala does not explain the analogy to opening Pandora's box and even distances herself from it by conceding, as a backhanded compliment, that OA "may not contain the multitude of human ills". So why bring it up?)
Barbara Quint, Elsevier's Scirus Opens Repository Search Service, Information Today NewsBreaks, June 13, 2005. Excerpt: 'Institutional repositories of digital data at universities and other research institutions may now receive deeper, more thorough indexing and full-text delivery through Elsevier’s free, sci-tech search engine, Scirus. The Scirus engine already reaches content at many institutional repositories, but those joining the new Scirus Repository Search service will receive more extensive and sophisticated indexing of a wider range of content. The repositories will also have access to additional search capabilities on their own Web sites at no cost. The first university to join the Scirus Repository Search service is the University of Toronto's T-Space collection. All of T-Space's digital files and data are available to the open Web. Marshall (Peter) Clinton, director of information technology services at the University of Toronto Libraries, said that a similar arrangement with Google preceded Scirus' arrangement by several months. He estimates that both Scirus and Google's improved service has improved access for both on-campus and off-campus users of the T-Space site. Ammy Vogtlander, Scirus' general manager, attributes the development of the Scirus Repository Search service to the fact that "Elsevier understands that an increasing amount of valuable content is currently held in academic repositories." She indicated that working directly with institutional repositories would allow Scirus to reach unique metadata and full-text material. It will also allow Scirus to reach content in alternative formats to journal articles or reports....According to Vogtlander, "We already had full indexing of various sites and institutional repositories, but now, for participating repositories, we will target key reports, have higher quality indexing, better display of results, and more accurate metadata." She found it odd that some institutional repositories, for all their important content, "offer no full text, only metadata."...Google Scholar has introduced linking to "appropriate copy" or restricted access content. (See Library Collections Linked on Google Scholar for Free.) When asked about Google Scholar's clustering and linking, Vogtlander said that Scirus is considering clustering. For now, however, Scirus users will see multiple results ranked on frequency of terms and date. Scirus also can't handle Open URL linking to library-licensed content....Vogtlander seems to see the world in different terms from traditional Elsevier. In reference to the policy of not charging for Scirus' services, even the new Repository Search service, she stated: "We must understand the free service business. There are different business models now, and Web searching is seen as free."'
(PS: I like this: Elsevier and Google competing to offer superior indexing of OA repository content.)
David Kestenbaum, Chemical Society: NIH Database Hurts Business, National Public Radio, June 12, 2005. The audio of a broadcast news story. Only this blurb is available as text: 'A National Institutes of Health database on chemicals is free to the public. This has created some anxiety for the American Chemical Society, which is in the business of charging customers for similar information.' (Thanks to Rick Johnson.)
Stephanie Wright, Dueling Databases, TechnoBiblio, June 13, 2005. Excerpt: 'The dialog this issue has generated has been hot and heavy with PubChem supporters explaining that PubChem is complementary to CAS, not duplicative. CAS supporters are complaining of "unfair, improper competition from the government". Aside from the fact that I'm a librarian and believe that information should be free, I think I'm even more rankled as a taxpayer. ACS Chief Executive Officer, Madeleine Jacobs, wrote in a recent letter to Nobel Laureate Richard Roberts: "The fact that the data collected into PubChem is "public domain" is completely irrelevant. Assembling information and publishing it in a variety of forms is what the private sector does. We believe that taxpayers should not fund the entry of NIH into the information industry more broadly than is necessary to disseminate the information whose creation it funds." What this basically says to me is that as a taxpayer, I can pay for the research but if I want access to it, I have to pay the private sector....The logic in this escapes me. Of course, ACS was perfectly happy with government funding of information products when it accepted NSF funds for the development of the CAS Registry System. This issue is about so much more than NIH vs. ACS. It is yet another example of a dangerous trend. Just look at the Department of Energy's now defunct database, PubScience, shut down by the Software and Information Industry Association. If we let a valuable resource like PubChem (as well as other freely accessible databases: ERIC, Agricola, PubMed) get shut down, we might as well give up on the whole open-access venture and we'll only have ourselves as librarians, and taxpayers, to blame.'
Aliya Sternstein, Publishers make appeal to lawmakers in NIH dispute, Federal Computer Week, June 13, 2005. Excerpt: 'American Chemical Society officials are asking lawmakers to rein in those responsible for a federal database of molecular structures because they say it will cut into the society's income from the sale of similar information. The National Institutes of Health created PubChem in 2004 as part of NIH's Roadmap for Medical Research initiative to speed the discovery of new medical treatments....Brian Dougherty, senior adviser to the chief strategy officer at ACS, said the society suggested forming a technical working group to set parameters for PubChem. "NIH has been unwilling to put anything in writing," Dougherty said. "We think this is going to put us out of business if it keeps growing and no parameters are set." NIH officials said they are confused about why ACS insists that PubChem will harm the society's business interests. "What is in common is a relatively small number of compound structures and names," said Christopher Austin, senior adviser to the translational research director at the NIH Chemical Genomics Center at the National Human Genome Research Institute. "ACS has gotten hung up on this," he said. "CAS has 25 million structures. PubChem has about 850,000. PubChem is a subset. Not everything that is in CAS is relevant to biomedical research." NIH officials said narrowing PubChem's focus could slow medical progress. "It would have profoundly negative effects on this new paradigm of making medical discoveries," Austin said.'
James Fallows, Enough Keyword Searches. Just Answer My Question, New York Times, June 12, 2005 (free registration required). Excerpt: 'One branch of the federal government is desperate enough for a better search tool that its efforts could be a stimulus for fundamental long-term improvements. Last week, I spent a day at a workshop near Washington for the Aquaint project, whose work is unclassified but has gone virtually unnoticed in the news media. The name stands for "advanced question answering for intelligence," and it refers to a joint effort by the National Security Agency, the C.I.A. and other federal intelligence organizations. To computer scientists, "question answering," or Q.A., means a form of search that does not just match keywords but also scans, parses and "understands" vast quantities of information to respond to queries. An ideal Q.A. system would let me ask, "How has California's standing among states in per-student school funds changed since the 1960's?" - and it would draw from all relevant sources to find the right answer.'
CODATA is looking for an organization to take over the management of its open-access Data Science Journal. From the announcement: 'The contract between the Committee on Data for Science and Technology (CODATA) and Queens University Belfast, the group currently responsible for oversight and management of the electronic CODATA Data Science Journal, expires on 31 December 2005. CODATA is currently seeking applications from interested organizations or institutions to take on the responsibility of the oversight and management of the Journal. The successful applicant will be offered a contract for this work commencing on 1 January 2006 for a period up to and including 31 December 2007....The deadline for receipt of applications is Friday 19th August 2005.'
Jim Milles, The Problem with Open Access, UBLaw Phoenix, June 11, 2005. Excerpt: 'Open access publishing has begun to take hold in law libraries, if not yet in law schools more generally. The theme of this year's CALI Conference for Law School Computing is "Open Source :: Open Law :: Open Education." An increasing number of law school libraries are undertaking digitization projects, scanning older or unique materials in their collections both for preservation and to make them available online to the academic community and the interested public. AALL's Open Access Task Force has been charged to "1) identify which issues have the most practical relevance to scholarly communication in the legal arena , and might be the focus of AALL interest and 2) advise the Board on what possible roles might exist for AALL that would result in encouraging participation in this movement." I'm not sure that I see the point, at least for most law libraries. Certainly our colleagues in the science, technology, and medicine (STM) disciplines have faced a real crisis in the rising cost of scholarly journals, where a single title can cost thousands of dollars....The scholarly periodical literature of the law (i.e., law journals) is dirt cheap, because it is subsidized by law schools. Where we are facing enormous price increases is in the practitioner-oriented materials --the "looseleaf" treatises and similar services from BNA, Aspen, CCH, and other commercial publishers....[W]hy are law libraries and law schools spending resources to digitize public domain information --and give it away for free-- rather than developing revenue generating online projects? Why doesn't a law school with, say, a research center in family law or technology and intellectual property, produce the online treatise in their area, to compete with the commercial publishers, and marketed --for a fee-- to law firms and attorneys? Could CALI or a similar organization get into the legal publishing arena, under some sort of profit-sharing agreement with schools and faculty?'
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has named an 8-person National Knowledge Commission. From the government press release (June 2, 2005): 'The Commission will advise the Prime Minister on matters relating to institutions of knowledge production, knowledge use and knowledge dissemination. The mandate of the Commission is to sharpen India's "knowledge edge". The Commission will advise the Prime Minister on how India can promote excellence in the education system to meet the knowledge challenges of the 21st Century; promote knowledge creation in S&T laboratories; improve the management of institutions generating Intellectual Property; improve protection of IPRs and promote knowledge applications in agriculture and industry. It will suggest ways in which the Government's knowledge capabilities can be made more effective, making the Government more transparent and accountable as a service provider to the citizen. It will also explore ways in which knowledge can be made more widely accessible in the country for maximum public benefit.'