Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Launch of an OA toolbar

Shahul Ameen has developed OAses, a nifty Open Access Toolbar. From the web site:
OAses, a toolbar for Internet Explorer, is designed to make internet searching easier for students, academicians and scientists. OAses searches many open access resources, free databases, and search engines. The toolbar is free to download and use, easy to install, and requires no registration.
Among the sources that OAses will search are OAIster, the Directory of Open Access Journals, Creative Commons, Project Gutenberg, FindArticles, PubMed Central, and a handful of the major search engines. OAses supports most of the high-end features you may be used to e.g. from the Google toolbar, such as browsing the target resources, highlighting search terms, dragging search terms from the browser to the searchbox, search histories, pop-up blocking, and cookie-clearing. For more details, see the FAQ.

Ameen is an M.D. and Senior Resident at the Central Institute of Psychiatry, Ranchi, India.

Another Oxford journal adopts author-choice OA model, considers full OA

Claire Saxby, The Bioinformatics Open Access Option, Bioinformatics, November 15, 2005. Saxby is the Biosciences Editor for Oxford Journals. Excerpt:
We are pleased to report that July 2005 saw the launch of our new Open Access option, part of the Oxford Open initiative. Bioinformatics authors can now choose to publish their work ‘open access’ in an established, high-impact journal, under what we believe is a sustainable publication model. The decision of whether to pay for open access is made by the corresponding author upon acceptance (importantly this decision is kept completely separate from the editorial review process). If a Bioinformatics author chooses to pay for the Open Access option, his or her paper will be made freely available online immediately; if an author does not choose the option his or her paper will be made freely available 12 months after publication. Authors choosing to publish under the Open Access model are also entitled to make their article freely available in institutional and subject-based repositories immediately upon publication....Our experiment follows a large-scale survey of the bioinformatics community in the latter part of 2004, to which over 900 responses were received. As part of the survey we asked the respondents to state which model they would prefer to see Bioinformatics adopt in the next two years: 39% preferred an optional model of open access where authors could choose whether or not to pay for open access; 38% preferred a mandatory model of open access funded by author charges; 20% preferred a non-open access model and 3% did not respond. In separate questions a similar number of respondents (60%) said that they would support an optional and a mandatory model of open access for Bioinformatics. We concluded that there is clear support for the concept of open access amongst a large sector of the bioinformatics community. However we also received concerns about the affordability of the author charges required and the long-term sustainability of such a model, and we noted that there are mixed feelings about the desirability and importance of immediate open access primarily funded by author charges....Unusually among such optional models, the Oxford Open model links the optional Open Access charge to institutional subscriptions. Corresponding authors based at institutions with online access to the current content of Bioinformatics are eligible for reduced, optional Open Access charges....Early results show that this model is proving attractive to a number of Bioinformatics authors --at the time of writing this editorial 32 papers have been published under an open access model in Bioinformatics since July. As an important part of the experiment, Oxford Journals is also undertaking research with the Library and Information Statistics Unit (LISU) based at Loughborough University, UK, to investigate the effect of open access on online usage and citation patterns as we believe this will help us and authors to make informed decisions. We are hopeful that this optional model will be attractive to authors --giving them freedom of choice-- and that it will prove useful to users (open access articles are clearly indicated as such on the online contents page and can be freely re-used for research and educational purposes). If the model is successful it would allow Bioinformatics to make a financially viable move to full open access.

Presentations on digital repositories

The presentations from the ARL/CNI/CLIR/DLF conference, Managing Digital Assets: Strategic Issues for Research Libraries (Washington, D.C., October 28, 2005), are now online.

Two OA-related jobs open at SHERPA

SHERPA has two OA-related jobs to fill. From the announcement:
SHERPA is advertising for two posts to work on the variety of open access and repository projects under the SHERPA "umbrella" or with which we are involved - SHERPA, SHERPA Plus, SHERPA DP, SHERPA/RoMEO, OpenDOAR, EThOS, IRS and others. These are high-profile posts and the successful candidates will learn from, and contribute to, national and international developments in the Open Access movement.

Post 1 - The Repository Development Officer will investigate and report on a wide variety of aspects of repository use - open access development, work flows, copyright, search, user-interface issues, user-support, etc and will work with authors, researchers, librarians, learned societies and publishers. Work will include supporting academics, advising senior institutional managers and acting as an advocate of open access on a national scale. The post requires excellent communication skills and a creative approach to promoting repository use. [...]

Post 2 - The Technical Development Officer post requires experience with web technologies, with a database and web application development background; particularly an active interest and knowledge of Perl, PHP, XML, APACHE, MySQL. The post will develop databases, services and resources with a user-centred focus for Open Access repositories. In addition, the post requires excellent communication skills as well as creative and professional technical abilities. [...]

For salary and contact information, see the announcemente. Applications are due by November 20, 2005.

Google offers CC-filtered searching

Google's advanced search page now lets users filter results by the re-use rights allowed by Creative Commons licenses. There are three new options:
    Return results that

  1. "aren't filtered by license" (the default)
  2. "allow some forms of re-use"
  3. "can be freely modified, adapted, or built upon"
Mia Garlick's posting on the Creative Commons blog includes this comment from Lawrence Lessig: "Creative Commons is thrilled by Google’s decision to join Yahoo! in enabling the spread of CC-licensed content. Now two major search engines recognize Creative Commons licenses; this confirms that CC is an important part of the infrastructure of the Internet."

There are now three search engines that detect and make use of machine-readable CC licenses: the new Google advanced search, Yahoo's dedicated CC search engine (and the the CC option on Yahoo's regular search engine), and CC's own search engine.

(PS: I repeat my comment from March 2005, when Yahoo first offered CC-filtered searching: "All search engines can offer this service and undoubtedly more and more of them will. As copyright locks down more content more tightly, searchers will want re-use rights almost as much as relevance. Search engines that find both will have an advantage. Conversely, authors and publishers who consent to grant more reuse rights than fair-use alone already provides should make their consent machine-readable for the next generation of search engines.")

Friday, November 04, 2005

October issue of Learned Publishing

The October issue of Learned Publishing is now online. Only abstracts are free online, at least so far. Here are the OA-related articles.

More on the Kaufman-Wills report

Bobby Pickering, ALPSP study questions OA viability, Information World Review, November 4, 2005. Excerpt:
The findings, the core of which come from emails sent to OA publishers listed on the DOAJ directory website, are not good news for the open access movement. They raise doubts about the quality of peer review editing, impact factors and editorial independence....Key financial findings from the study show that 41% of OA journals are losing money, 24% are just breaking even, and a mere 35% making profit. Bob Campbell, president of Blackwell Publishing, told IWR that the survey showed that the long-term viability of OA publishing was highly questionable. "Most OA publishing houses are financially stretched," he said. "The OA model is not secure financially, it isn't delivering a stable platform and I don't think it's sustainable."...Not surprisingly, open access publisher BioMed Central was quick to retaliate, branding the report as containing " significant factual inaccuracies" and drawing "unjustified conclusions concerning the long-term sustainability of OA journals". BioMed Central publisher, Dr Matthew Cockerill, said: "The fact that many open access journals currently operate at a loss is simply a sign that these are early days. There is every reason to think that the passage of time will profoundly improve the ability of open access journals to cover their costs."

(PS: Pickering's article doesn't take into account the October 28 post-publication addendum to the report, which acknowledges and corrects the inaccuracies Matt Cockerill pointed out. For more clarification of the report's conclusions, see my interview with Cara Kaufman in the November SOAN.)

OA info for patients about medicines

Joanne M Shaw, Geraldine Mynors, and Caroline Kelham, Information for patients on medicines, BMJ, November 5, 2005. An editorial. Excerpt:
Information for patients on medicines should be much more accessible and patient centred....The traditional model for communicating with patients about their medicines is that doctors decide the best treatment and patients follow their doctors' instructions with only limited independent access to information about treatment. The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) is now reviewing its code of practice, and this is an important opportunity to move to a more modern view of patients --as partners of health professionals and decision makers in relation to their health. The main aim of the code is to protect patients from potentially harmful influence. It currently focuses heavily on regulating the pharmaceutical industry's communications with health professionals and imposes highly restrictive conditions on direct communication with patients. This model is seriously flawed. The ABPI code of practice should reflect the increasing role that patients are taking in decisions about their health and treatment, as well as patients' entitlement to access information from any source they choose. The code should require companies to provide better information for members of the public who seek it, rather than prevent them from doing so....Around half of all medicines are not taken as prescribed, with serious consequences in terms of preventable ill health, mortality, and cost to the NHS. Non-compliance is almost always the result of conscious choices made by patients rather than forgetfulness. The best predictors of compliance are patients' attitudes, beliefs, and perceptions about their illness and treatment....These beliefs are strongly influenced by the information that patients receive from health professionals and other sources....Feedback about the pilot guides [in the Medicines Information Project] showed that they help patients and their families. Designed and developed with both health professionals and patients and accessible online from anywhere in the world, these guides have advantages over mandatory patient information leaflets. They can be customised to provide only the information relevant to a specific indication; they discuss medicines in the context of all available alternatives, including non-drug options; and they link to relevant clinical information about conditions in NHS Direct Online. And because the guides are an online resource with open access, they can inform the dialogue between patients and health professionals when making treatment decisions.

Microsoft will digitize British Library materials for the OCA

When Microsoft joined the OCA, it pledged to spend $5 million to digitize about 150,000 books, but both the books and the library or other source to provide them were left to be determined later. For a sign of where Microsoft is looking, see Jon Boone and Maija Palmer, Microsoft in deal with British Library, Financial Times, November 3, 2005. Excerpt:
Microsoft on Thursday announced a “strategic partnership” with the British Library that will allow the software group to digitise 25m pages of content - the equivalent of 100,000 books....The agreement will allow the US software company to scan some of the library's collection and to make digital copies of the books available on the internet. Once some technical challenges have been overcome, the “digitised” books, journals, maps and manuscripts would be made available on the library's website and on a new MSN Book Search service which Microsoft plans to launch next year....Microsoft said it would invest $2.5m in the British Library venture next year as “an initial investment”. While the early “pilot” phase will aim to process 10,000 books, the company made clear that it saw its involvement with the British Library as a long-term project. Microsoft said the technology that would be developed to scan the material, index it and make whole books searchable could be commercially exploited by companies looking to store huge paper archives digitally. The work will be conducted in conjunction with the Open Content Alliance, a consortium of non-profit and for-profit groups led by Yahoo. It was set up this year in response to Google Print's digitisation venture. The British Library said it was happy to work with any company that helped it make its holdings more readily available. Lynne Brindley, the library's chief executive, said: “Our aim is to provide perpetual access to the intellectual output of the nation.”

Micropayements for book sections

Edward Wyatt, Want 'War and Peace' Online? How About 20 Pages at a Time? New York Times, November 4, 2005. Excerpt:
In a race to become the iTunes of the publishing world, and Google are both developing systems to allow consumers to purchase online access to any page, section or chapter of a book. These programs would combine their already available systems of searching books online with a commercial component that could revolutionize the way that people read books. The idea is to do for books what Apple has done for music, allowing readers to buy and download parts of individual books for their own use through their computers rather than trek to a store or receive them by mail. Consumers could purchase a single recipe from a cookbook, for example, or a chapter on rebuilding a car engine from a repair manual. The initiatives are already setting off a tug of war among publishers and the potential vendors over who will do business with whom and how to split the proceeds. Random House, the biggest American publisher, proposed a micropayment model yesterday in which readers would be charged about 5 cents a page, with 4 cents of that going to the publisher to be shared with the author. The fact that Random House has already developed such a model indicates that it supports the concept, and that other publishers are likely to follow. The proposals could also become bargaining chips in current lawsuits against Google by trade groups representing publishers and authors. These groups have charged that Google is violating copyrights by making digital copies of books from libraries for use in its book-related search engine. But if those copies of older books on library shelves that have long been absent from bookstores started to produce revenue for publishers and authors, the trade groups might drop some of their objections. In a telephone interview yesterday, Paul Aiken, executive director of the Authors Guild, which filed a federal copyright infringement lawsuit against Google in September over its Google Print program, called the Amazon announcement "a positive development."...Amazon said yesterday that it was developing two programs that would begin some time next year. The first, Amazon Pages, is intended to work with the company's "search inside the book" feature to allow users to search its universe of books and then buy and read online whatever pages they need of a given book. The second program, Amazon Upgrade, will allow customers to add online access to their purchase of a physical copy of a book. Jeffrey P. Bezos, chief executive of Amazon, said in an interview that he believed that, for a vast majority of books, consumers would be able to download, copy and print out whatever portions of the book they buy. But, he added, that decision would ultimately be up to the publisher or the author. Google is working to develop a similar system, said executives at three publishing companies who were briefed by Google on its efforts. Using the Google Print site, readers would be able to search Google's digitized library of books, then buy either an entire book or the relevant parts. A spokesman for Google, Nate Tyler, declined to comment yesterday on its plans, saying only that the company was "exploring other economic models, but we don't have anything to announce yet."...Currently, the Google Print program provides free online access to the full content of books no longer under copyright, but only limited viewing of parts of books that are still protected. Under the plans being developed by Google, publishers say, those older, copyrighted books could be bought in whole or in part. "We've had conversations with both Google and Amazon over the past few months" about their search and purchase systems, said Richard Sarnoff, president of Random House's corporate development group. By creating a financial model under which the Amazon and Google programs could work, Mr. Sarnoff said Random House was "planting a flag, trying to establish some ground rules that we are comfortable with to create this new kind of commerce around book content." The Random House model calls for consumers to be able to buy access to a book for, say, 5 cents a page for most books and higher amounts, like 25 cents a page, for cookbooks and other specialty publications. It calls for users to gain online access, though not to be able to copy or print the page. But "if consumers absolutely demand certain kinds of access," like the ability to print, Mr. Sarnoff said, "it would be important to provide that."

(PS: This is not about OA and I don't plan to cover future developments along these lines unless they have a clear OA connection --e.g. if "micropayment journals" start to eat into the market share for OA journals.)

OA and editing historical manuscripts

Klaus Graf, Open Access und Edition, in Brigitte Merta, Andrea Sonnlechner and Herwig Weigl (eds.), Vom Nutzen des Edierens, Vienna: Institut für Österreichische Geschichtsforschung, 2005, pp. 197-203. A 2004 conference presentation published in the conference proceedings and now OA on Klaus' blog, defending the thesis that editing historical manuscripts would be improved if all the previous editions were OA. In German.

Improving access to knowledge

Knowledge versus information societies: UNESCO report takes stock of the difference, a press release dated yesterday. Excerpt:
A UNESCO report launched today urges governments to expand quality education for all, increase community access to information and communication technology, and improve cross-border scientific knowledge-sharing, in an effort to narrow the digital and “knowledge” divides between the North and South and move towards a “smart” form of sustainable human development. “Towards Knowledge Societies”, launched in Paris today by UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura, also advocates...sharing environmental knowledge and developing statistical tools to measure knowledge and help policy makers define their priorities....The Report, opens a panorama “that paints the future in both promising and disquieting tones,” says the Director-General, “promising because the potential offered by a rational and purposeful use of the new technologies offers real prospects for human and sustainable development and the building of more democratic societies; disquieting for the obstacles and snares along the way are all too real.” One of the main obstacles, according to the Report, is the disparity in access to information and communication technology that has become known as the digital divide. Only 11 percent of the world’s population has access to the internet and 90 percent of those connected live in industrialized countries. This digital divide is itself the consequence of a more serious split. “The knowledge divide,” write the authors, “today more than ever, separates countries endowed with powerful research and development potential, highly effective education systems and a range of public learning and cultural facilities, from nations with deficient education systems and research institutions starved of resources, and suffering as a result of the brain drain.” Encouraging the development of knowledge societies requires overcoming these gaps, “consolidating two pillars of the global information society that are still too unevenly guaranteed – access to information for all and freedom of expression.”...The stakes are high, stresses the Report, for the cost of ignorance is greater than the cost of education and knowledge sharing. It argues in favour of societies that are able to integrate all their members and promote new forms of solidarity involving both present and future generations. Nobody, it states, should be excluded from knowledge societies, where knowledge is a public good, available to each and every individual.

(PS: The report itself is not online, at least so far.)

Update. The report is now online in English and five other languages. (Thanks to John Russell.)

Where in the world are OA journals published?

Jutta Haider, The Geographic Distribution of Open Access Journals, a poster presented at the 9th International Congress on Medical Librarianship, September 2005.
Abstract: The regional distribution of Open Access (OA) journals in the ISI citation databases differs significantly from the overall distribution of journals, namely in favour of peripheral areas and regions constituted predominantly of poorer countries. According to McVeigh (2004) in the ISI citation databases as a whole, North America and Western Europe account for 90% of the titles indexed, yet they account for only 40% of OA journals. Less than 2% of European and North American journals employ the OA model, yet 15% of those from the Asia-Pacific region and 40% from Central and South America are OA. This leads the author to conclude that "[for] many journals, providing free content online expands their access to an international readership" (McVeigh 2004, p.4). Departing from this assumption the study at hand addresses the following questions: Is the geographic distribution of OA journals in general more favourable towards peripheral publishing countries? How does it differ from the distribution of scholarly journals in general? Which proportions of scholarly journals and of scholarly online journals are OA in different regions and in groups of economically similar countries?* For this purpose, publishing data for active scholarly/academic journals from Ulrich's Periodicals Directory and the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) were gathered and analysed using descriptive statistical techniques. The data was gathered in May 2005. The results indicate interesting differences between the geographic distribution of scholarly journals in general and the subgroup of OA journals. To illustrate, among the top 25 publishing countries for all journals, 7 do not belong to the group of high income countries*, and only 6 in the case of scholarly online journals. Yet for OA journals this number increases to 11, with Brazil taking the 3rd and India the 5th spot. According to the DOAJ almost a fifth (18%) of OA journals in the Health Sciences and over a quarter (26%) of Biology and Life Science OA journals are published in the Latin American and Caribbean region. While the group of high income countries publishes 6% of its online journals as OA, 32% of those from upper middle income countries, 10% of those from lower middle income countries, and 34% of online journals emanating from low income countries are OA. Correspondingly, 5% of online journals published in Western Europe* and 6% of those from Canada and the USA are OA, yet 51% of online journals published in Latin America and the Caribbean are. (South Asia: 7%, Africa/Middle East: 8%, Eastern Europe/Central Asia: 15% East Asia/Pacific: 15%) This also has to be seen in the light of the fact that the USA, Canada, and the countries of Western Europe together account for 80% of all registered academic online journals, while their share of OA journals amounts to 59%. Due to the fast changing nature of the subject the results are meant to provide a snapshot as well as to be indicative and exploratory, and also to invite different interpretations. Yet at the same time they are also intended to instigate debate about the role OA is attributed and its significance as a peripheral practice.

* see World Bank Classification of Economies.
** for the purpose of this study “Western Europe” means pre-enlargement European Union, plus Switzerland, Iceland, and Norway.

Google announces Google Print books

Google Print Unveils Collection of Public Domain Books from Libraries at University of Michigan, Harvard, Stanford, and the New York Public Library, a press release from Google, dated yesterday. Excerpt:
Today, Google Inc. announced the availability of the first large collection of public domain books on Google Print. This collection, scanned as part of the company's book digitization project with several of the world's largest libraries, includes works such as U.S. Civil War history books, government documents, the writings of Henry James and other materials. Because they're out of copyright, these cultural artifacts can be read in their entirety online at, where anyone can search and browse every page. They are fully searchable and users can save individual page images. "Today we welcome the world to our library," said Mary Sue Coleman, President of the University of Michigan . "As educators we are inspired by the possibility of sharing these important works with people around the globe. Think of the doors it will open for students; geographical distance will no longer hamper research. Anyone with an Internet connection can search the text of and read the compelling narratives, historical accounts and classic works offered today, and in doing so access a world of ideas, knowledge and discovery." Examples of the public domain books available on Google Print today include: [1] Civil War regimental histories and early American writings from the University of Michigan, [2] Congressional acts and other government documents from Stanford, [3] The works of Henry James from Harvard, [4] Biographies of New York citizens and other collected biographies from the New York Public Library. More information and images of pages from these materials can be found on the Google Blog. These works however are just a small fraction of the information that will eventually be made available as a result of Google Print.

More on balancing access and confidentiality

Kathryn Garforth, Balancing Industry Confidentiality with the Public Right of Access: The Case of Biotechnology in Canada, The Forum on Privatization and the Public Domain, November 3, 2005.
Abstract: Access to information is a crucial means by which individuals can monitor the regulators and the regulated and come to trust the regulatory system. Access to information has also developed as a principle of sustainable development law over the past fifty years through its inclusion and use in a variety of human rights, trade, and environmental fora. As public doubt over the human and environmental safety of the products of biotechnology continues to linger, industry’s desire for confidentiality runs headlong into citizen actions to ensure that they and their environment are being protected. In Canada, the Access to Information Act creates a presumption of a right of access to records under the control of government. There are exemptions to this right with regards to third party information submitted to government as well as exceptions to the exemptions. In the context of applications for unconfined release of plants with novel traits, much of the information submitted to government by the proponent is classed as confidential and so protected by the exemptions. Different studies have recommended disclosure of the environmental risk assessment data submitted by proponents but the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has yet to implement these recommendations. Rather, experience demonstrates that the CFIA is leaving proponents to decide when access to information will be granted resulting in fundamental misinterpretation of the Access to Information Act. Where access to the environmental risk assessment data has been obtained, serious shortcomings have been revealed. The problem can be fixed through proper application of the access to information rules and/or the development of new obligations but ultimately it will require an appreciation of access to information as a key component of sustainable development.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Costs of OA repositories

Rebecca Kemp has posted some figures on the costs of setting up and running open-source OA repositories at 10 institutions. The figures came in response to her call for data on the LibLicense discussion list. If you have additional data, send them to her at

According to her spreadsheet, the low end for set-up costs is $5,770 (CILEA) and the high end is $1,706,765 (Cambridge University). The low end for yearly maintenance is $36,000 (National University of Ireland) and the high end is $285,000 (MIT). Because Cambridge gives no annual maintenance cost, it's very high set-up cost may include annual maintenance. Kemp lists the Caltech archive but doesn't mention Caltech's finding that set-up costs are less than $1,000.

It's not clear what the different institutions are counting as part of set-up and maintenance. It would help to break out the different costs so that we know when we're comparing like with like and when we're not.

Data on OUP's Oxford Open program

Oxford University Press has announced the results to date of its Oxford Open program. From today's press release:
Oxford Journals today released the first results from its optional open access model, Oxford Open, maintaining its commitment to sharing first hand open access evidence with the scholarly community. It has also confirmed a further 19 journals to join the initiative from January 2006. The initiative, launched on July 1, 2005, gives authors the option of paying for their research to be made freely available online immediately on publication. Results from the first quarter of operation show an average of 9% open access take-up by authors across the 21 participating journals, with take-up limited to the Life Sciences and Medicine. There has been no take-up by authors publishing in participating Humanities and Social Sciences titles. Martin Richardson, Managing Director, Oxford Journals, commented, "Nine of the 21 journals involved in the first phase of Oxford Open have published open access papers since July. There has been a noticeable variation in the take-up of open access amongst these journals; some life science journals have published up to 5% of papers under the open access model, while others have seen take-up of approximately 17%." Most authors submitting papers for open access are from subscribing institutions, who as part of the Oxford Open model pay a discounted rate (£800 or $1500, compared to £1500 or $2800 at full charge for authors from non-subscribing institutions). "The optional open access model supports our authors by allowing them the choice of paying for immediate free access to their articles, with unrestricted reuse for education and research." commented Richardson. He added, "Ultimately, Oxford Open will allow us to examine whether optional open access is a long term sustainable financial model for publishing peer-reviewed journals, and in which subject areas the market demands might be strong enough to move more proactively in this direction. These early results suggest that open access is likely to be only one of a range of models that will be necessary to support the requirements of different research communities." Oxford Open is the latest of four open access models being tested by Oxford Journals. Further trials include partially funded open access (Journal of Experimental Botany); sponsored open access, Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine (eCAM); and full open access, Nucleic Acids Research (NAR). NAR, one of the first major science journals of such stature and prestige to move to a full open access model in January 2005, will remain full open access in 2006 based on positive feedback from readers and authors, and a continued increase in submissions.

Another anti-Google critique misses the target

Pat Schroeder and Bob Barr, Reining in Google, The Washington Times, November 3, 2005. Pat Schroeder is a former member of Congress from Colorado and the current president of the Association of American Publishers (AAP), which his suing Google. Bob Barr is a former member of the House Judiciary Committee. (Thanks to Garrett Eastman.) Excerpt:
You're probably reading the byline above and wondering, "What could these two, from opposite sides of the aisle in Congress, possibly have in common with each other?" The answer is when it comes to Google's Print Library Project we have much in common: We're both authors and both believe intellectual property should actually mean something....The creators and owners of these copyrighted works will not be compensated, nor has Google defined what a "snippet" is: a paragraph? A page? A chapter? A whole book? Meanwhile Google will gain a huge new revenue stream by selling ad space on library search results....Not only is Google trying to rewrite copyright law, it is also crushing creativity. If publishers and authors have to spend all their time policing Google for works they have already written, it is hard to create more. Our laws say if you wish to copy someone's work, you must get their permission. Google wants to trash that....Just because Google is huge, it should not be allowed to change the law....Google envisions a world in which all content is free; and of course, it controls the portal through which Internet user's access that content. It would completely devalue everyone else's property and massively increase the value of its own....These lawsuits are needed to halt theft of intellectual property. To see it any other way is intellectually dishonest.

Comment. Nine quick replies. (1) A snippet is a fair-use excerpt. If you think Google's snippets are too long to count as fair use, then the AAP should scale back its lawsuit to the demand that snippets be short enough to count as fair use. Right now the AAP is trying to halt the whole project regardless of fair use. (2) Why do you care whether Google makes money? When a book critic quotes a fair-use excerpt in a book review, it appears on the same page as an advertisement. The publishing newspaper has a commercial purpose in publishing the excerpt. Does that negate fair use? Does it depend on how much the newspaper makes from advertising? (3) Authors who have nothing better to do than "police" free advertising for their books, and try to stop it, should lie down and wait for help. Meantime, other authors can write books and work with Google, among others, in bringing them to the attention of readers. (4) Google believes that existing rules protect what it is doing. It doesn't need to trash them. If you really don't know that Google has a legal argument, then see the many defenses of Google's project by lawyers and law professors that I collected last month. (5) You write: "Just because Google is huge, it should not be allowed to change the law." Did you really think Google disagreed? Just because you are angry authors doesn't mean that Google is harming you. Just because you are former members of Congress doesn't mean that you've got the lock on fair use. (6) No doubt, Google is taking a step whose legality is uncertain. But its legality will be decided by a court, not by Google. Did you really think otherwise? (7) Google is making some information free, but it's making other information searchable without making it free and helping users find places to buy it. (8) You clearly believe that Google's project will harm authors and publishers. But why not cite even one piece of evidence? (9) Why is it more important for you to disparage the arguments against you as intellectually dishonest than to restate them honestly and criticize them?

Another comparison/contrast of OCA and Google Library

Jesse Nunes, Different paths taken to book digitization, Christian Science Monitor, November 2, 2005. Excerpt:
One main goal of the OCA is to standardize the format of digitized works using the web-friendly XML standard to index text and PDFs for reproduction of book pages. As David Mandelbrot of Yahoo! recently told The Technology Review, "One of the things we've seen with other [digitization] programs is they tend to use proprietary technologies to host the content, so it's impossible for third-party search engines to crawl it." Read "other [digitization] programs" as Google and "third-party search engines" as Yahoo and MSN, and it becomes clear why these companies have formed this alliance – to keep a monopoly of digitized print content out of Google's ever-expanding virtual hands. As the OCA continues to gain members, it is disclosing the operational details, costs, and logistics of its digitization project, something that Google hasn't done. In effect, and somewhat ironically because of Microsoft's participation, the OCA has become a combination of an Open Source Alliance and the World Wide Web Consortium, while Google seems to be trying to become the Microsoft Windows of online content. Where it all ends up is anybody's guess, but the resolution of the lawsuits between publishers and Google will go a long way toward answering that question. In the meantime, we can soon look forward to full access to the myriad public domain works in the world, easily accessible and searchable with the click of a mouse.

More on Google Library

Anush Yegyazarian, Opinion: is Google really the greedy one? PC Advisor, November 3, 2005. Excerpt:
I understand copyright owner’s need for maintaining control of their works and their belief they should have the right to require prior consent — to opt-in as it were — for projects such as Google Print that use these works. I also think the law will back them up. But I think you and I will be the poorer for it and we, as a society, will end up losing works whose copyright owners can't be found to authorize inclusion in such a project, or can't be bothered to.

More on Brewster Kahle and the OCA

Quinn Norton, Off the shelf and on to the web, The Guardian, November 3, 2005. Excerpt:
Imagine a library where you can find all the books in the first place you look. Imagine you can search, Google-style, over their text, and then feel the pages between your fingers, or see the tea splotches of the first readers, long dead. And imagine doing all of this in your own home. The plan is a book lover's dream; and the particular book lover intent on creating this Open Library is Brewster Kahle, known as the digital librarian of the internet. Kahle made his name indexing and storing the web in his Internet Archive. His non-profit organisation, stationed in an unassuming colonial home in San Francisco's Presidio, has moved on to grab and upload all kinds of media: public domain films, audio archives, and amateur endeavours such as Project Gutenberg, which has been painstakingly hand-typing public domain texts since the 70s. Now he has taken the idea of digitising the text of books one step further, and is storing not just the text, but, incredibly, high-resolution snapshots of book pages, good enough to reproduce every fold, blotch and texture of the world's catalogue of public domain works on your screen. It is an ambitious project, but he has allies among other technologists, and the support of large companies such as Microsoft and Yahoo. A consortium of tech companies, libraries and academic institutions has formed the Open Content Alliance, working together to create the Open Library, the future home of these works....Kahle divides the existing literary world into strata of copyright protection. In-print books are the ones you can buy and often read snippets from via Amazon. Out-of-print publications are harder to reach. What Kahle calls "orphaned works" come next: these book are out of print, and their copyright owner is un-contactable. Generally, these books are found in libraries or not at all. Finally, there is the pre-1926 world of the public domain. These are books that copyright law allows everyone to reprint, rework and convert into pristine digital formats as they see fit. The majority of works are in the first three categories but the public domain itself remains huge. This is where the Open Library initiative is focused. And that may be why the big boys are so interested. When the impetuous Google Print project set about scanning the very top strata, books still within copyright, it provoked a fire-storm of protest. But Kahle ducks that controversy, and has come up with something more impressive. Not just text, but real books that are free to use, and unladen with lawsuits and licences. Kahle hopes to begin moving up to the next strata, orphaned works. These remain in a legal limbo for now, but Kahle and his supporters hope that future legislation in the US could open up more of these often disregarded works to be used in new ways. He sees Amazon's "search inside the book" and Google Print as moving down to meet him, both burrowing to his ultimate aim. This, he defines, with a slightly tired smile, as: "Universal access to all human knowledge - one page at a time."

First Google Library books appear in the Google index

Jeffrey Young, Google Adds First Scanned Library Books to Search Index, and Says Copyrighted Works Will Follow, Chronicle of Higher Education, November 3, 2005 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt:
Google has added the initial batch of scanned library books to a searchable index, the first fruits of the company's controversial partnership with five major research libraries. The Library Project, part of the company's Google Print program, has been digitizing library books for nearly a year, in an arrangement with Harvard and Stanford Universities, the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, and the University of Oxford, in England, as well as the New York Public Library. But until now those scanned books had not been part of the Google index. Adam M. Smith, a senior business-product manager at Google who is working on the book-scanning project, said in an interview on Wednesday that "thousands" of library books are now in the index, though he would not give an exact number. All of the books added to the index are in the public domain, he said....Mr. Smith also said that Google has resumed scanning copyrighted books. The company had temporarily stopped scanning copyrighted works in order to give publishers a chance to give Google lists of books that they did not want scanned. Mr. Smith added that some of the copyrighted books would begin to appear in the Google index "very shortly." From now on, library books will be added to the index as they are scanned, according to Nathan Tyler, a spokesman for Google. "We're going to be constantly adding new books to the index as they become available," he said. The full-text books now in Google include Civil War regimental histories from the University of Michigan, government documents from Stanford University's collection, works by Henry James from Harvard's libraries, and biographies from the New York Public Library's holdings. The books can be found by searching Google Print.

Some librarians on Google Library

Kevin J. Delaney and Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg, Google Will Return to Scanning Copyrighted Library Books, Wall Street Journal, November 1, 2005. Excerpt:
Google's resumption of its scanning of copyrighted works comes amid heated debate in the library community over participation in the program. "We believe the Google project is a good and right thing, and that our participation is consistent with our role as an educational institution," said Andrew Herkovic, director of communications and development at the Stanford University Libraries. Stanford has provided Google with volumes that are in the public domain, but Mr. Herkovic declined to say whether the university has also provided copyrighted material to Google. Other librarians say that what matters most is that people have as much access to information as possible. "We think that what Google is doing is legal and consistent with copyright law because copyright law is about striking a balance between the limited rights of the copyright owner and the long-term rights of the public," said John Wilkin, associate university librarian at the University of Michigan, which is making an estimated seven million volumes available. But Google's actions have raised concerns among some librarians uneasy with the idea of creating ill will with publishers and authors. "In general I think that libraries need to observe copyright," said Tom Garnett, assistant director for Digital Library and Information Systems at the Smithsonian Institution Libraries, which are the libraries serving the Smithsonian Institution. Mr. Garnett said that the Smithsonian Institution Libraries will maintain a conservative stance until the disputes are resolved. Other librarians are more strongly opposed to the Google project. "I feel that this is a potential disaster on several levels," said Michael Gorman, president of the American Library Association and university librarian at California State University, Fresno. "They are reducing scholarly texts to paragraphs. The point of a scholarly text is they are written to be read sequentially from beginning to end, making an argument and engaging you in dialogue." Mr. Gorman, who said the American Library Association doesn't have an official position on the subject, described Google's argument that Web users will be able to look at several snippets and then decide whether they want to buy or read the book as "ridiculous." Further, he noted that as a published author, he opposes Google's intention to build an enormous database that includes copyrighted texts. "It's a flaunting of my intellectual property rights," he said.

(PS: Note to Michael Gorman. Google isn't "reducing" books to paragraphs. It's copying full-text and displaying short snippets in response to specific searches in order to help users decide when a book is relevant to their research. No one, least of all Google, is recommending that researchers rely on those snippets to do what only a full read could do. When Google has permission to display full text instead of mere snippets, it does so. And the word is "flout", not "flaunt".)

Wiki on OA repositories in Australasia

Arthur Sale has launched AuseAccess, a new wiki "devoted to open access repositories in the Australasian region." It already has pages on OA itself, different OA initiatives in the region, archiving software, copyright issues, model policies, and many more. And of course, any user can add others.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

November SOAN

I just mailed the November issue of the SPARC Open Access Newsletter. This issue takes a close look at the Open Content Alliance and interviews Cara Kaufman on the recent Kaufman-Wills report on OA journals. The Top Stories section takes a brief look at the new CIBER study of author attitudes toward OA, the Adelphi Charter on intellectual property and OA, the Canadian National Science Advisor's endorsement of OA, the hybrid OA model for journals, the draft OA policy from the RCUK, and the lawsuit by five publishers against Google.

Another open letter to Lord Sainsbury

Barbara Kirsop has sent an open letter to Lord Sainsbury in response to his comments on OA and the RCUK OA policy. Lord Sainsbury is the UK Minister of Science and Innovation. Excerpt:
Regarding Open Access Archiving, I think you may not be fully informed that this relates to the archiving in interoperable archives of already published papers (as well as other institutional material of value to the international scientific community – such as pre-prints, theses, teaching material etc). Some 93% of publishers questioned have agreed to OA archiving of their published material (see the ROMEO database, below), with varying degrees of time-embargoes. Their decision is clearly based on the evidence from the physics discipline where the major physics journals have existed in partnership with the arXive archive for over 10 years and have reported no decline in subscriptions, and in one case are assisting in the mirroring of the archive. Recently, as you will be aware, the RCUK group have unanimously proposed OA archiving, as have the Wellcome Trust, the House of Commons S&T Committee and a growing number of independent universities and countries. The list below shows some of the major statements already publicised and you will see that there is a truly international concensus on the value of this development. Publishers (both commercial and non-profit) are arguing that their profitability will be impaired if OA Archiving continues, but their worries are not based on evidence (which shows the contrary) but on speculation....If the RCUK proposals are adopted this will put the UK at the forefront of international communication, using the unprecedented power of the Internet to share research findings as widely as possible....The development of open access institutional archives is a low cost, practical tool to bring this about, in parallel with open access journals. The RCUK proposals are indeed enlightened and I and colleagues around the world much hope that they will be agreed and implemented, putting British research in a highly visible and influential position in international research and supporting research in less advantaged regions.

Libraries and Google

The new issue of Internet Reference Services Quarterly (vol. 10, no. 3/4, 2005) is devoted the relationships beteween libraries and Google.

OA, OAI, and Overlays

Magnus Enger, The concept of 'overlay' in relation to the Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH), draft 0.1 of what looks like a growing book (94 pp. so far). Excerpt:
Over the past several years there has been a growing dissatisfaction with how the dissemination of scholarly documentation works. This, combined with the new possibilities opened up by the ubiquity of computers and the Internet in higher education and other research-related institutions, has led to an “experimental fumbling” find new ways of disseminating scholarly documentation. I will begin my explorations into this changing landscape by introducing the Open Access-”movement” and the Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH), which makes it possible to harvest metadata from many archives into federated services. I will then go on to discuss, based on its usage in the literature, the concept of “overlay” as it relates both to Open Archives and other sources/forms of documentation. A short survey of existing overlay services (or “Service Providers”, as they are known within the OAI-PMH framework) will be given, with an eye to relating them to the previous discussion. Finally an overview of a prototype service provider will be presented. In closing, the suitability of the OAI-PMH, in its current incarnation, as a framework for constructing value-adding overlay services to Open Access repositories will be discussed, along with some suggestions for future work.

Jacsó on CiteSeer

Péter Jacsó reviews CiteSeer in the November issue of his Digital Reference Shelf. Excerpt:
Too often, interesting pilot projects fade away after the initial grant money runs out. Luckily, earlier this summer the National Science Foundation awarded a $1.2 million grant to the Penn State University School of Information Sciences and Technology (IST) and University of Kansas to enhance and improve the original CiteSeer project. The funding is much deserved in light of the direct utility and the inspirational value of CiteSeer....CiteSeer (which was likely the model for Google Scholar) started out in 1997 with this good name, then switched to ResearchIndex, then switched back to the original. It currently offers its services, including sophisticated citation searching options, based on nearly one million documents. The documents were collected and processed from the open-access Web. They are the self-archived papers, their preprint and/or reprint versions. CiteSeer stands out by offering the full text of (almost) all of the documents. The size of the database in and by itself is impressive, and the instant access to the source documents makes it immensely useful. This instant access concept certainly limited the scope of the database, but it is already huge and grew at an impressive rate during the past eight years. Beyond the instant access, there was another filter applied to collecting the computer science-related papers: Only papers in PDF and PostScript formats have been collected. This also reduced the scope of the collection, but certainly increased it’s quality. These two formats are the most common in computer science, so this is not as restrictive as it may sound. The inclusion of papers in HTML and Word formats could have increased the size of the collection, but it would have lowered its quality by picking up from the open Web far less-relevant papers posted by undergraduate students in introductory distance education computer science courses offered by one of the online universities....The items on the [search] result list are sorted by decreasing citedness order. Clicking on the title of the paper brings up a much enhanced bibliographic record. Beyond the traditional content of author, title, source name and other publication data, it offers many (a little too many) additional links to the full text of the document from a variety of locations and different file formats. It also offers informative excerpts from a variety of lists about the cited, citing and otherwise related papers and their citedness indicator before making the complete lists available. This is an awesomely information-rich, but very dense, page....Let me emphasize one quintessential advantage of CiteSeer: you receive access to the source documents (with some exceptions) with no fuss and no muss — even if your library doesn’t have a link resolver — because CiteSeer has a copy of the source document. This is partially true for Google Scholar, but to a far lesser extent....CiteSeer has ultra high-brow software, way beyond what end-users will see directly. Actually, what the end users see may not be as tender an interface as you see in most Web-wide search engines, and it has no help file (which is a sin). This may make it look user unfriendly. What it lacks in user friendliness it makes up in smartness, especially in selecting high-quality sources, and in normalizing/standardizing the terribly inconsistent, incomplete and inaccurate citations prevalent in every scholarly field....CiteSeer has perfected — within reasonable limits — the process of recognizing and consolidating matching records for incomplete and/or partially erroneous citations. It can also locate the references in the full text (not merely in the footnotes) for many of the documents, in about 60-65% of the cases in my test....ITS is one of the recipients of the grant. In light of past performance, that group is a guarantee that the fund for the project known as Next Generation CiteSeer will be well-used. Of course I regret even more that only a relatively small amount was awarded for this project. It showed a working example of the revolutionary new method of autonomous citation indexing which is done without human indexing, does not require the enormously expensive journal subscription and processing investments, and can be ported to other disciplines.

Update from Open Access Law

John Wilbanks posted a progress update on the Science Commons blog yesterday. Excerpt:
Thanks to Dan Hunter's tireless work, the Open Access Law program has converted its 31st law journal to the open access model....[T]here's been a quiet explosion in the open access law world. Thanks to Dan Hunter's tireless work, the Science Commons Open Access Law (OAL) program has converted its 31st law journal to the open access model...the Brooklyn Law Review is the most recent convert. It joins a growing, international community of institutions and journals embracing open access to legal theory.

The Covey study on permissions for OA to books.

Kathlin Smith, Asking for Access, CLIR Issues, November/December 2005. Excerpt:
Realizing the dream of creating a rich, openly accessible digital library requires navigating copyright. A new study, Acquiring Copyright Permission to Digitize and Provide Open Access to Books [PS: blogged here 10/21/05], examines the practical aspects of seeking open access to monographs whose rights are privately held --that is, most work published after 1923. The author, Denise Troll Covey, principal librarian for special projects at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), describes three efforts at CMU to make books freely available on the Internet for public use. Her descriptions of this process and its results reveal an array of challenges --from locating copyright holders to defining the meaning of out of print-- but also suggest strategies for success. The studies show that obtaining legal clearances requires an enormous investment of time, money, and patience....The first of the three studies, the Random Sample Feasibility Study, was conducted between 1999 and 2001. Its purpose was to determine how likely it was that publishers would grant nonexclusive permission to digitize and provide surface Web access to their copyrighted books and to gain insight into what factors influence publishers’ decisions....The study targeted 277 titles published by 209 publishers, selected at random from CMU’s library catalog. Project staff requested permission on a title-by-title basis, mailing a separate letter for each inquiry. A follow-up letter was sent if the publisher did not respond. Publishers who no longer held the copyright in question sometimes returned the letters; in such cases, project staff attempted to find the current owner. Ultimately, 21 percent of the publishers, accounting for 19 percent of the titles in the sample, could not be located. Half of the publishers responded to the request letters, and more than one-fourth of them granted permission, thereby enabling CMU to digitize and provide Web access to about 25 percent of the copyrighted books in the sample. Most of the publishers who granted permission applied some kind of restriction, ranging from limiting access to Carnegie Mellon users to stipulating that permission did not apply to components of the work with copyright owned by a third party. Troll Covey estimates that the average cost of obtaining a single permission was about $200....[By contrast] the average transaction cost per copyrighted title in the Posner [fine and rare books] collection for which permission was granted was $78....The Million Book Project (MBP) is funded by the National Science Foundation and the governments of India and China. Its goal is to digitize and provide open access to 1 million books by 2007. The MBP is part of the Universal Library Project, a partnership of Carnegie Mellon School of Computer Science and the CMU libraries....Staff located all the publishers that they attempted to contact in the MBP....Almost one-fourth of the publishers granted permission to include at least some of their titles in the MBP; altogether, permission was given for at least 52,900 titles. Slightly more than one-fourth of the publishers denied permission. Of the publishers that granted permission, one-fourth did so for all or most of their out-of-print titles. More than half granted permission for a specific subset of their titles. The average transaction cost for obtaining permission in the MBP was 69 cents per title....

The three studies show that however painstaking the effort, it is possible to secure permission to digitize and provide open access to books. The following findings from the CMU projects may be instructive to others who plan to seek copyright permission for digitization. [1] Locating copyright holders is difficult, expensive, and often unsuccessful....[2] For very large projects, the cost of obtaining permission on a title-by-title basis may be prohibitive....[6] Publishers who deny permission may fear lost revenue, may no longer hold rights, or may be uncertain of their rights. Publishers who chose not to grant permission to digitize often did so because they feared lost revenue, even for older or out-of-print titles that were not generating revenue. Many publishers, particularly university presses, said that they wanted to participate but could not because copyright reverts to the author when their books go out of print. Many publishers noted that older contracts did not grant them electronic rights to the books or that they were uncertain of their rights in this regard. The most common reason publishers gave for not participating in the MBP was they did not have the time and staff needed to check their paper files title-by-title to determine copyright status and ownership.

(PS: The Open Content Alliance will face these or similar hurdles whenever it wishes to scan copyrighted books. It may not face exactly the same hurdles because it will offer content providers the option to restrict access to the digitized result.)

OAN feeds work perfectly now

Scott Burns at Public Knowledge has just fixed a mysterious and annoying problem that plagued Open Access News ever since I first added RSS feeds more than two years ago. Basically the permalinks on the web edition of the blog didn't match the permalinks in feeds. When feed users clicked on the permalink to a posting, they were taken to the right page of the blog archive, but they were left at the top of the page when they should have been taken directly to the right posting. (Don't ask how this bug arose.) Now permalinks in feeds work exactly as they should. Thank you, Scott!

OAN supports both an Atom feed and an RSS feed.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

When journals charge too much, universities should cancel or charge back

Theodore Bergstrom and R. Preston McAfee, An Open Letter to All University Presidents and Provosts Concerning Increasingly Expensive Journals, undated but put online c. October 21 and posted to the Scholcomm list today. (Thanks to Ray English.) Excerpt:
For nearly a century, a symbiotic relationship existed between scholars and scholarly publishers. Academics freely provided their discoveries, work, and time editing and reviewing, and scholarly publishers provided packaging and sold the output of the academics’ labors for a modest profit. This benefited both groups, because the publishers received the most valuable inputs for free, while the academics were sheltered from the business end of publishing....In the 1970s, some for-profit scholarly publishers discovered that library demands for journals were remarkably unresponsive to price increases and that the publishers could greatly increase their revenues by sharply increasing their prices....This gap widened in the 1980s and further widened in the 1990s, so that the for-profit journals charge about five times as much per page and fifteen times as much per citation as the non-profits....It is time to recognize a simple fact, and react to it. The symbiotic relationship between academics and for-profit publishers has broken down. The large for-profit publishers are gouging the academic community for as much as the market will bear.....So far, universities have failed to use one of the most powerful tools that they possess: charging for their valuable inputs. Journal editing uses a great deal of professorial and staff time, as well as supplies, office space and computers, all provided by universities....Academics consent to edit 2 of 3 journals and their departments offer them facilities and sometimes even released time from teaching classes....For those journals that uphold their side of the bargain by setting reasonable subscription prices, this policy remains a reasonable one. However, we see no reason for universities to subsidize editorial inputs to journals that are priced to extract maximum revenue from the academic community....We recommend the following policies. (i) Universities should assess overhead charges for the support services of editors working for journals that have basic library subscription rates of more than a threshold level of cost per measured unit of product. (ii) University libraries should refrain from buying bundled packages from large commercial publishers and should set clear minimal standards of costeffectiveness for individual journals to which they subscribe. We believe that it is reasonable to figure that a journal editor who handles about 100 papers annually would use about 20% of a secretary along with the associated space and other overhead materials, an overhead charge of at least $12,000 per year would seem appropriate. While some have encouraged individual academics to boycott expensive journals, such a challenge should occur at the university level. Overall, it is the entire university community that is harmed by the draining of library budgets and restrictions on dissemination of articles....We have created a website that lists the price per article and the price per citation for about 5,000 academic journals. Using these statistics, we have constructed an index of costliness for each journal in each of several broadly defined disciplinary areas....We used this index to construct lists of journals that we believe represent poor value for university library subscription. Our criterion for a journal to be “overpriced” is that a weighted index of the cost per article and the cost per citation is more than two and a half times as large as the median index for non-profit journals in the same discipline. We suggest that universities assess overhead charges, and libraries not subscribe to any of the journals on the “expensive” list. Of course universities are invited to construct their own measures of journal cost-effectiveness. Our website presents the data that can easily be used to construct such measures. We realize that individual universities should probably compose their own policies, because broad collective action on pricing may risk an antitrust violation.

Bergstrom is the Aaron and Cherie Raznick Professor of Economics at the University of California at Santa Barbara. McAfee is the J. Stanley Johnson Professor of Business, Economics & Management at the California Institute of Technology.

UNESCO endorses OA

On September 22, UNESCO adopted Amendments to the Draft Programme and Budget for 2006-2007 that have the effect of endorsing OA. (Thanks to Heather Morrison.) Excerpt:
[UNESCO] Requests the Member States (a) to foster through the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) dissemination of the principles of open access; (b) to foster dissemination of the principles of open access, particularly in universities; (c) to promote developing countries’ open access to archives for the sake of spreading scientific know-how;

Invites the Director-General (a) to assess the feasibility of creating a database on existing open access initiatives worldwide and to report at the forthcoming sessions of the Executive Board and the General Conference on the progress of open access strategies throughout the world; (b) to promote a network of national working groups with a view to fostering open access in their universities, to cooperate internationally in initiatives and projects on the subject of open access, and to promote the training of experts for cooperation in the publication of and open access to texts free of charge.

PubChem facilitates new data deposits

PubChem has launched a Deposition Gateway "for users who want to deposit new data into PubChem and/or test data upload procedures." It also has an FTP site.

Major dataset put into public domain

Applied Biosystems Announces Major Data Release into Public Domain, a press release from Applied Biosystems, October 26, 2005. (Thanks to John Wilbanks.) Excerpt:
Applied announced the contribution of more than 400,000 PCR primer–pair designs for nearly 16,000 human genes for detection of DNA sequence variants associated with disease and other phenotypes. The primer sequences will be made available through a new [open-access] Probe Database developed by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI).

How patents impede research

Stephen Hansen, Amanda Brewster, and Jana Asher, Intellectual Property in the AAAS Scientific Community: A descriptive analysis of the results of a pilot survey on the effects of patenting on science, AAAS, October 2005. From the executive summary:
Historically, academic scientists chose to disseminate basic research findings and inventions through free and open channels such as informal sharing, journal publications or conference presentations. These basic discoveries had little immediate commercial value for the author to appropriate privately, but could prove highly useful for other researchers to build upon. The reward structure of academic science reinforced this practice, awarding prestige and tenure on the basis of discoveries published in journals and provided openly to the scientific community. The patenting of intellectual property generated by research, while pursued by academics in some fields, was primarily reserved for discoveries made in the commercial sector, which could be developed into marketable products and bring monetary rewards to their inventors. The past two decades have seen an increase in patenting, most notably in the life sciences, by both industry and academic scientists in the U.S. Much concern has been raised that this increase in patenting would create an “anti-commons” effect where basic, non-commercial academic research would be hindered by the imposition of long negotiations and expensive licenses to acquire necessary research inputs from either industry or academia....

Overall, 24% of respondents conducting or managing research or specializing in intellectual property reported acquiring a patented technology for use in their esearch since January 2001....For industry bioscience, non-exclusive licensing was the most common method used in the acquisition of technologies. In both industry and academia, exclusive licensing was one of the least used methods for technology transfer....A total of 16% of all respondents reported that their work had been affected by difficulties in attempting to obtain patented technologies. A total of 40% of respondents who had acquired patented technologies since 2001 reported difficulties in obtaining that technology....Of the 40% of respondents who reported their work had been affected, 58% said their work was delayed, 50% reported they had to change the research, and 28% reported abandoning their research project. The most common reason respondents reported having to change or abandon their research project was that the acquisition of the necessary technologies involved overly complex licensing negotiations....Overall, 25% of the respondents who disseminated their technology included a research exemption that allowed the patent holder to continue to conduct research on or with the licensed technology. 32% of respondents who licensed the technology included a research exemption....For those who had not disseminated their technologies, the most frequently reported reason was that they were developing or commercializing it themselves (65%). The top reason among academic respondents why they did not disseminate their technologies was that they planned to conduct future research with it (40%)....[D]ifficulties reported by industry respondents in attempting to access patented technologies outnumbered those of academic respondents by a ratio of more than 2:1. This may be due to the fact that industry reported creating and holding more intellectual property than academia, as well as the fact that industry relies more on licensing, which entails more and longer negotiations than other more traditional and informal forms of technology transfer still used within academia.

JISC supports LOCKSS for ejournals

JISC is funding an ejournal preservation initiative. From today's press release:
JISC (Joint Information Systems Committee), in partnership with CURL (Consortium of Research Libraries in the British Isles), today issued a call to librarians and publishers to meet these [preservation] challenges together. An extended pilot will see the LOCKSS system, devised at Stanford University, deployed in selected libraries in the UK from January 2006. LOCKSS - ‘Lots of Copies Keep Stuff Safe’ - is a low-cost system that preserves access to a library’s online journals in a local ‘LOCKSS box’ in a manner acceptable to publishers. The chosen libraries will each keep copies of the journals they subscribe to and together they will ensure continued access to subscribed online journals even if a publisher should disappear, a journal cease publication, or the library end its subscription....Lorraine Estelle, Collections Team Manager at JISC, said: “One of the great barriers to the uptake of online resources in general, and journals in particular, is the perception that they lack permanence. Without assured future access to paid-for content institutions are reluctant to move to electronic-only subscriptions. LOCKSS removes the difficulty at a stroke and provides a very practical way of guaranteeing access to what are vital resources for academic institutions.”...A town meeting will be held in London on the 2nd December to which all interested libraries and publishers are invited. Further details, including the call for participation, are available [here].

(PS: LOCKSS works as well with OA journals as it does with non-OA journals. But I can't tell whether this initiative will include any OA journals.)

"The father of open source science"

Dana Blankenhorn, Open source science, Open Source blog, October 31, 2005. Excerpt:
Most science happens in silos. The chemists own the chemistry experiments, the biologists the biology experiments. It's like a collection of little, proprietary software enterprises, which don't share. In open source science the entire campus can share in the discovery process. It doesn't matter what your discipline is, you can find a role to play. And when folks with different disciplines get together, breakthroughs can occur. The man I consider the father of this open source science, Dr. Richard Smalley, died last week at age 62. Dr. Smalley is probably best known for his 1996 Nobel Prize, won with Dr. Robert Curl and Dr. Harry Kroto for their discovery of Buckyballs, a form of carbon with 60 atoms arranged like a soccer ball. It was named for R. Buckminster Fuller, who spoke at Rice when I was an undergraduate there, some time before Smalley joined the faculty in 1976. But I believe Smalley's biggest accomplishment is the Center for Nanoscale Technology and Science. Look at the wide-ranging disciplines of the faculty members. That's not just for show. The CNST has had several breakthroughs in recent years I attribute to just this structure....The point is by breaking down walls between disciplines, an open source method applied to science, amazing things can happen. Suddenly you have a lot of minds coming at problems from a lot of directions. It works. And it's going to transform science just as open source has transformed computing. Just as Dr. Smalley transformed my old school.

Another defense of Google

Graeme Philipson, Tim O'Reilly fires a broadside against 'piracy', The Age, November 1, 2005. Excerpt:
It does my heart good. It really does. Amid all the blather and hypocrisy about copyright and intellectual property, a publisher has come out and stated the bleedin' obvious - that the free flow of information helps authors, and restricting it is counterproductive and ultimately futile. Tim O'Reilly, whose company publishes a highly successful line of technical computing titles, has come out swinging against the restrictions imposed by the current copyright regimen. His comments were made before the current controversy over the Google Print program, but they could have been made in direct response to the stupid reaction of many publishers and writers, who claim that Google's attempt to digitise the contents of some of the world's libraries is a breach of copyright. Mr O'Reilly has written a short polemic which outlines the changed realities of the digital age as succinctly as I have ever seen it put [Piracy is Progressive Taxation from December 2002]. And this from a man who made his fortune through the traditional publishing model. [Quoting O'Reilly:]
Obscurity is a far greater threat to authors and creative artists than piracy," he points out. This should be self-evident to anybody with even a passing understanding of publishing, but it seems most people just don't get it. More than 100,000 books are published each year, with several million books in print, yet fewer than 10,000 of those books have any significant sales, and only 100,000 or so of all the books in print are carried in even the largest stores. Most books have a few months on the shelves of the major chains, and then wait in the darkness of warehouses from which they will move only to the recycling bin.

The power of the internet vastly improves the likelihood of a reader and an author linking up. The same is true of music and film. The old distribution models favour a few top-selling authors and musicians, and the big Hollywood studios, to the detriment of lesser-known but in many cases more talented creative artists....Read his essay in full. It's a refreshing look at how clever people can embrace the internet and the new model of digital distribution. Mr O'Reilly's company still publishes books, but its business model goes way beyond print. Take a look at to see the future of publishing (and read the bleats of Google's critics to have a look at the past while it's still there).

Authors Guild is the property-grabber, not Google

Tim Lee, What's So Eminent About Public Domain? Reason Online, October 31, 2005. Excerpt:
The Google Print controversy fits the same pattern. The Authors' Guild claims that Google Print "seizes private property." Yet in reality, the excerpts of copyrighted books shown by the service would be far too short to be of use to anyone looking for a free copy. And under copyright law, the use of short excerpts has traditionally qualified as fair use. If the Authors' Guild prevails, it will leave copyright owners with much greater control over how their content is used than they have traditionally enjoyed in the pre-Internet world. And even if they lose, readers will still have to purchase the full book if they want to read more than a few sentences. By lumping together the very real threat of the government taking people's land with an imaginary threat of IP anarchists abolishing intellectual property, the copyright industry and its allies hope to portray themselves as defenders of traditional property rights. The problem is that their own copyright agenda is a radical departure from America's copyright traditions. If there really is a good case for expanding the rights of copyright holders, they should be able to make it without misleading analogies to the Kelo [eminent domain] decision.

Google resumes scanning library books

From an entry in Google's blog, dated yesterday:
Tomorrow is the day we said we'd resume scanning in-copyright works with our library partners as part of our initiative to build a card catalog of books with Google Print. We are in the process of resuming scanning (it may take a little time), so you should soon be able to search across more books from our partner libraries at We've already had great success working with publishers directly to add their works to our index through our Publisher Program, and when we add books with publisher permission, we can offer more information and a much richer user experience. As always, the focus of our library effort is on scanning books that are unique to libraries including many public domain books, orphaned works and out-of-print titles. We're starting with library stacks that mostly contain older and out-of-circulation books, but also some newer books. That said, we want to make all books easier to find, and as we get through the older parts of the libraries we'll start scanning the stacks that house newer books. These older books are the ones most inaccessible to users, and make up the vast majority of books – a conservative estimate would be 80 percent. Our digital card catalog will let people discover these books through Google search, see their bibliographic information, view short snippets related to their queries (never the full text), and offer them links to places where they can buy the book or find it in a local library. We think that making books easier to find will be good for authors, publishers, and our users. We're excited to get back to work making a comprehensive, free, full-text card catalog of the world's books a reality. Happy searching!

Update. The blog posting has been reprinted, as a new contribution to the EPS debate on Google Print, November 1, 2005.

More on ADS and myADS

Michael Kurtz and five co-authors, Intelligent Information Retrieval, a preprint forthcoming in the ADASS XV Proceedings.
Abstract: Since it was first announced at ADASS 2 the Smithsonian/NASA Astrophysics System Abstract Service (ADS) has played a central role in the information seeking behavior of astronomers. Central to the ability of the ADS to act as a search and discovery tool is its role as metadata agregator. Over the past 13 years the ADS has introduced many new techniques to facilitate information retrieval, broadly defined. We discuss some of these developments; with particular attention to how the ADS might interact with the virtual observatory, and to the new myADS-arXiv customized open access virtual journal. The ADS is at [online here].

More on Microsoft's role in OCA

Barbara Quint, Microsoft Launches Book Digitization Project --MSN Book Search, Information Today, October 31, 2005. Excerpt:
Everything old is new again. With the entrance of Microsoft into the mass book digitization process, the status of books as “the next big thing” in digital content has been confirmed. Newspapers and the general trade press continue to treat Yahoo!’s participation in the Open Content Alliance as its way of competing with Google Print in this now critical content arena....Microsoft representatives repeatedly avow their commitment to respecting all copyrights and to working out mutually agreeable protections for copyright holders, contrasting their virtue with Google Print’s questionable policies. As a vigorous complainer about worldwide piracy of its software, Microsoft’s commitment to intellectual property would seem unavoidable. Nevertheless, the company also believes that such a commitment, when aligned with its other assets, could lead it to have more access to in-copyright material over time, as copyright holders look to work with it. To this end, the company expects to add interfaces and technical avenues to facilitate a publisher’s ability to feed content into its system....[Microsoft's] initial 150,000 book commitment will allow free searching of the public domain book content through OCA outlets --e.g., Yahoo! Search and MSN itself. As an open Web content source, it can also expect spidering by Google and other Web search engines, and OCA material is downloadable. However, as in-copyright content in MSN Book Search expands through arrangements with copyright holders, complete access to all MSN Book Search content will probably involve a combination of free open Web and restricted, premium access. ...So what’s in this for Microsoft? At this point, it’s a long road ahead. However, Microsoft is already looking at different business models to make the effort profitable. Danielle Tiedt, general manager of content acquisition for MSN, suggested a few models under consideration. These include pay-per-page, pay-per-chapter, monthly subscriptions, selling e-books, advertising, sponsored access, and so on. No decisions have been made so far. Obviously, the copyright status of the book will have great influence on the business model. MSN already has billing systems in place, as does Yahoo!. Google reportedly is launching a new billing system and is developing other payment platforms, including pay-per-view and the insertion of clickable ads into scanned documents....Liz Lawley, a visiting researcher working with Microsoft Search, said: “Microsoft understands that when it comes to Search, closed approaches won’t work. The value in MSN Book Search will not come so much from the data as from the integrated tools and building interfaces to the data.” Lawley considers the interfaces critical, especially since the majority of Web users don’t form good full-text queries. She also believes that the world is well-served by having different organizations competing in this arena, fearing the specter of one organization containing and controlling too much of the world’s information. And what’s in this for Web users? It seems one thing has become clear. All the major search engines, not to mention the world of Web users, now believe that all information should come onto the Web. Google’s mission statement --”to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”-- seems to have become the mantra for all major Web suppliers. The race has begun to get it all done.

More details on the OCA

Barbara Quint, Open Content Alliance Expands Rapidly; Reveals Operational Details, Information Today, October 31, 2005. Excerpt:
Just a few weeks after its launch, the Open Content Alliance has already added dozens of new members to its Open Library project....Twenty-four new participants have joined the initial 10 founding members. All contributors have committed to donating services, facilities, tools, and/or funding. Microsoft Corp. has joined the effort with the announcement of MSN Book Search, a new mass book digitization project....RLG plans to supply bibliographic descriptions to Open Content Alliance digitizing operations from the more than 48 million titles in its RLG Union Catalog....Microsoft has joined the Open Content Alliance with an estimated $5 million promise to digitize approximately 150,000 books next year to launch its MSN Book Search service. It promises to help the OCA not only scan and digitize publicly available print materials, but also to work with copyright owners to legally scan protected materials....Rumors circulate that the next potential OCA participant may even be Google. At the Oct. 25 evening inaugural event, Google’s Dan Cleary attended and, according to our reporter, Lisa Picarille, “clapped throughout much of the presentation, but not when Yahoo! (a founding member) spoke or when the Microsoft executive was on stage.” Cleary even slipped off his name tag when he examined the scanner demonstration, reportedly to avoid being bothered by the press. An OCA representative commented that “Google wants to help us.” Time will tell....The for-profit companies contributing hardware, software, and service support to the OCA would seem to have strong motivation to use the effort to illustrate and market their abilities to the world. This could explain why the OCA is so much more open about its equipment and its performance than Google Print....Some of the books will even offer an audio version, in which case one can click on “listen” at the book. LibriVox supplies the audio technology and a network of volunteers does the reading. A connection with supplies bound, print-on-demand versions of books at a user’s request with an estimated average price of approximately $8 a book or about $1 for a short (100-page) black and white book....Recognizing that technology changes can render stored content obsolescent, it plans to move all its content to new systems every 3 years....At OCA’s inaugural event, Brewster Kahle stated that OCA would try to target the 80 percent of books published between 1923 and 1964 that are out of copyright, then expand to include orphaned books, where the publisher and author can not be found, then out-of-print works, and finally in-print material. He called the effort “tricky but doable.” This could put a lot of pressure on participating libraries to develop ways of verifying copyright ownership....Greenstein stated that the hope of the OCA effort is to promote the recognition of the principle that content distributors “must compete on value added to the content, not on ownership.” Opening content up to third parties will “drive innovations in service provisions, such as annotated and educational services.” In the future, Greenstein hopes that publishers will recognize that “proprietary control over content is an impediment to commerce.”

Info from 9/11 commission still not public

Max Holland, Undocumented Evidence: The Politics (and Profits) of Information: The 9/11 Commission One Year Later, Washington Spectator, November 1, 2005. (Thanks to Free Government Information.) Excerpt:
[F]inal reports of important commission have been supplemented by publication of the public and private hearings, staff reports and the actual documents used to compile the findings. Take a look at the shelf space occupied by some major probes since 1945: these include the 1946 congressional inquiry into the Pearl Harbor attack (40 volumes); the 1964 Warren Commission investigation of President Kennedy's assassination (27); and the 1975-76 Church Committee investigation of the intelligence agencies (15). By contrast, the 9/11 Commission climaxed in the publication of a single, 567-page volume --without an index. The relative poverty of this effort at the culmination of a twenty-month, $14 million investigation reflects a downward trend in the government's obligation to disseminate information to the public....The 9/11 Commission's first departure from customary practice was its decision not to use the GPO....

[W]hat the 9/11 Commission chose not to publish at all is at least equally remarkable. Comparable investigations have made available at least some portion of the raw information upon which the respective reports were erected, even at the risk of challenging the very conclusions a particular report might have drawn. The Warren Commission, for example, decided it was far better to present the entirety of the evidence in all its rich complexity than be charged with hiding information. Other, comparable panels have weighed the evidentiary part of their responsibility differently, but in no instance was a final report released without publication of some portion of the primary documents accumulated during the investigation. This is the only method by which the public can assess the accumulated evidence and judge the soundness of the investigation itself. The overwhelming majority of records cited in the 9/11 Report are not only unpublished --worse yet, by the commissioners' collective hand they are closed to the public until at least January 2009....What is the meaning of opening the files, now in the possession of the National Archives, only after January 2009? Well, that is the month that a new president will be inaugurated, which means vital information will have been denied at least through the November 2008 election.

Another OA collection from Nature

Nature has posted a collection of OA articles about sleep.

Nature creates topical OA collections like this from time to time, in partnership with a sponsor to cover its costs. But in the past, its sponsors have been for-profit companies with products related to the collection topic. This time its sponsor is the NIH.

Bowdoin joins the ATA

The Bowdoin College Library has joined the Alliance for Taxpayer Access.

(PS: If your US-based university, library, or non-profit organization has not joined the ATA, please recommend it. The ATA is a major force in OA advocacy in the US.)

CLA comment to the SSHRC consultation on OA

The Canadian Library Association (CLA) has released its comment to the SSHRC consultation on OA. (Thanks to Heather Morrison.) Excerpt:
Upon publication, research funded through SSHRC should be made openly accessible, as defined in the Budapest and Berlin declarations. In order to ensure access to and preservation of SSHRC-funded research, the researcher should place his or her research in an institutional repository, preferably a Canadian repository if available....[E]xceptions should be made where there is an expectation of financial return [e.g. for books]. However, open access publication should be encouraged....[SSHRC should let grant funds to pay processing fees charged by OA journals.] If an author's publication fees were an eligible expense within a SSHRC grant, it would encourage researchers to publish in open access venues. Moreover, the publication fee system assists journals in their adoption of open access publishing by providing some means of financial wherewithal to change their practices, particularly if the journal itself is not subsidized....While it is impossible for the Canadian Library Association to speak for all of its members, it is our belief and experience that librarians who are researchers and authors are strongly in favour of open access and, apart from the exception noted above, will be willing to comply with such a regulation for SSHRC-funded research.

Monday, October 31, 2005

BMC draws attention to CIBER survey results

BMC has issued a press release on the September CIBER report. Excerpt:
Twenty-nine percent of senior authors questioned say that they have published in an open access journal, according to a new independent survey. This is up eighteen percentage points compared to a similar question asked in a study carried out in 2004 by the same researchers, a two-and-a-half-fold increase in just twelve months. BioMed Central is delighted that independent research is now available that confirms its own experience of the continuing growth of open access publishing. "New Journal Publishing Models: An International Survey of Senior Researchers" was produced by CIBER, an independent publishing think tank based at City University in London. The study, published in September 2005, is based on a survey of 5513 authors "typically principal investigators or research group leaders" who had published in an ISI-indexed journal during 2004. It is the follow up to a previous CIBER study conducted in 2004. Ian Rowlands and Dave Nicholas, the authors of the report, found that "the research community is now much more aware of the open access issue." The report authors write "There has been a large rise in authors knowing quite a lot about open access (up 10 percentage points from the 2004 figure) and a big fall in authors knowing nothing at all about open access (down 25 points)." Thirty percent of authors surveyed claimed to know "a lot" or "quite a lot" about open access journals. This is up from 18% in the 2004 survey. Altogether 81% of authors claim to have some awareness of open access, up from 66% in 2004. Rowlands and Nicholas found that "Authors strongly believe that, as a result of open access, articles will become more accessible…". 75% of authors surveyed agreed with the statement "High prices make it difficult to access the journals literature".

20% of human genes are patented

Kyle Jensen and Fiona Murray, Intellectual Property Landscape of the Human Genome, Science Magazine, October 14, 2005. The published version is accessible only to subscribers, but here's an OA archived edition. (Thanks to John Wilbanks.) Excerpt:
Critics describe the growth in gene sequence patents as an intellectual property (IP) “land grab” over a finite number of human genes. They suggest that overly broad patents might block follow-on research. Alternatively, gene IP rights may become highly fragmented and cause an anticommons effect, imposing high costs on future innovators and underuse of genomic resources. Both situations, critics argue, would increase the costs of genetic diagnostics, slow the development of new medicines, stifle academic research, and discourage investment in downstream R&D. In contrast, the classic argument in support of gene patenting is that strong IP protection provides incentives crucial to downstream investment and the disclosure of inventions....Policy-makers are hampered by the lack of empirical data on the extent of gene patenting....Our results reveal that nearly 20% of human genes are explicitly claimed as U.S. IP. This represents 4382 of the 23,688 of genes in the NCBI’s gene database at the time of writing....Although large expanses of the genome are unpatented, some genes have up to 20 patents asserting rights to various gene uses and manifestations including diagnostic uses, single nucleotide polymorphisms, cell lines, and constructs containing the gene....Our analysis suggests a number of avenues for further research: It would be valuable to examine whether current practice in patent examination has allowed multiple conflicting patents on the same gene. In addition, genes with multiple patents and IP owners provide a valuable context in which to explore the variety of arrangements used to facilitate or block access to gene-based research and the impact of these arrangements on future innovators.

More on Microsoft's motives for joining the OCA

Todd Bishop, Surprise alliance for MSN book search prompts concern, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, October 31, 2005. Excerpt:
In a surprise move, Microsoft said it would create its new MSN Book Search service by working with the Open Content Alliance, a group founded to digitize and index books and other media. The group's founding members include Yahoo!, the very competitor from which Microsoft is trying to untie other parts of its Internet search business. Under the circumstances, Microsoft's move might seem odd. But some in the technology industry see it as an example of the lengths to which Microsoft will go in its rivalry with Google. Tim O'Reilly, whose O'Reilly Media book-publishing company belongs to the Open Content Alliance, expressed concern on his weblog that the group was "being hijacked by Microsoft as a way of undermining Google." O'Reilly's comment arose from the fact that joining the alliance gave Microsoft a chance to try to cast itself in a positive light -- while contrasting itself with the Web search leader....In an interview, O'Reilly said his use of the word "hijacking" was a little strong, in hindsight, to describe Microsoft's motives for participating in the Open Content Alliance. He said he thinks it's good that Microsoft is participating in the group. Still, he said he considers it inaccurate to portray Google as the "bad guy" for its initiative and Microsoft as the "good guy" for joining the alliance. In reality, O'Reilly said, the fundamental aims of the alliance and Google aren't opposed. Both initiatives are trying to make more books searchable and more accessible. "Overall, this is a good thing," he said of the various efforts to scan and index the world's books. "Effectively, there's competition to come up with the right answer."...The Open Content Alliance arose from discussions between Yahoo! and the Internet Archive, but was planned as something that would be "hospitable to other companies" that agree with the group's underlying principles, said Rick Prelinger, administrator of the alliance and board president of the Internet Archive. "Whoever agrees with those principles and has a contribution to make -- whether it's funding or content or tools or facilities or services -- they were going to be welcome," Prelinger said. "From the beginning, there was a hope that (Microsoft) would join."...Prelinger said the Internet Archive's relationship with Google is positive and that he hopes to work out an arrangement for the company to join the alliance. He also said he sees no reason to question Microsoft's motives in joining the group. "They made a substantial gift," he said, referring to the money Microsoft is paying for books to be scanned into the public database. "That doesn't seem like undermining to me."

More on the pricing crisis

Anna Norman, Cost of scientific journals 'staggering', The Daily (newspaper of the University of Washington at Seattle), October 31, 2005. Excerpt:
Every quarter, students wonder how to pay for expensive textbooks. The rising costs of scientific and scholarly journals is creating the same problem for the UW libraries, said Timothy Jewell, head of Collection Management Services, which manages research databases and scholarly journals...."The prices of [the journals] are just staggering," said UW President Mark Emmert. "If you went down a list of some of these major journals, you would see series with four issues a year for over $8,000."...Jewell cited publisher consolidation as the primary reason for soaring prices. "A lot of the smaller publishers have been bought out by large, multinational corporations," he said. "The largest scientific, technical and health journal publisher, Elsevier, has been overtaking publishers for the last 10 years or so." With fewer companies dominating the market, journal prices have risen exponentially Despite an estimated 7 to 8 percent increase each year aimed at journal costs, the libraries' budget isn't keeping up with escalating expenses, Jewell said. "In years that we can't find the necessary funding to pay, we have to cancel our subscriptions to stay in budget," he said....Although the library staff has increased funding, there is no end to cancellations in sight, said Mel DeSart, head of the Engineering Library. "I've only been here for five and a half years, and I've already been through two cancellations," he said. "They are substantial cuts - we've cut thousands of titles over the last ten years."...Without major changes in the academic publishing market, Jewell said he isn't sure where the libraries will be a few years from now.

Balancing OA with some traditional knowledge "protections"

Eric C. Kansa, Jason Schultz, Ahrash N. Bissell, Protecting Traditional Knowledge and Expanding Access to Scientific Data: Juxtaposing Intellectual Property Agendas via a “Some Rights Reserved” Model. A draft or preprint forthcoming from the International Journal of Cultural Property. (Thanks to the Stoa Consortium.)
Abstract: The 21st century has ushered in new debates and social movements that aim to structure how culture is produced, owned, and distributed. At one side, “open knowledge” advocates seek greater freedom for finding, distributing, using, and reusing information. On the other hand, “traditional knowledge” rights advocates seek to protect certain forms of knowledge from appropriation and exploitation and seek recognition for communal and culturally situated notions of heritage and intellectual property. Understanding and bridging the tension between these movements represents a vital and significant challenge. This paper explores possible areas of where these seemingly divergent goals may converge, centered on the Creative Commons concept of “some rights reserved”. We argue that this concept can be extended into areas where scientific disciplines intersect with traditional knowledge. This model can help build a voluntary framework for negotiating more equitable and open communication between field researchers and diverse stakeholding communities.

Open commons for archaeology

ArchaeoCommons is a new OA initiative for achaeology. (Thanks to the Stoa Consortium.) From the site:
ArchaeoCommons works to build a network of communities engaged with archaeology and cultural heritage....Our vision is to create an open commons, both virtual and physical, where scholars, students, educators, and the public can document, interpret, and creatively explore cultural heritage....We will work to uphold the following values and principles....[1] Promote universal accessibility to shared cultural heritage....[4] Promote a community dialogue in developing open frameworks for the collection, dissemination, and storage of archaeological data.

Comment for the SSHRC consultation on OA

Heather Morrison, SSHCR Consultation on Open Access: Response, Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics, October 30, 2005. Excerpt:
In brief, my response is a recommendation that SSHRC policy be to require open access to the results of SSHRC funded research, as defined in the Budapest Open Access Initiative, basically immediate, free, and unrestricted online availability. Specifically, my recommendation is to require deposit in an institutional repository, and to make open access a requirement for SSHRC subsidy funding for publishers.

(PS: Comments for the SSHRC consultation on OA are due today.)

Debunking myths about ODF

Reluctant to follow Massachusetts and adopt OpenDocument Format for your work or institution? Read Bob Sutor's Debunking Myths on Open Document Formats. Sutor is IBM's Vice President of Standards and Open Source.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Southampton people and OA resources temporarily offline

An explosion and fire at the University of Southampton have shut down email and web services. If you have sent email to Stevan Harnad, Tim Brody, Les Carr, Steve Hitchcock, other OA activists at Southampton, or the American Scientist OA Forum, don't expect an immediate reply. For the same reason, the Eprints web site is temporarily offline, along with related pages like the Self-Archiving FAQ, the Self-Archiving Policy Registry, and the Hitchcock bibliography on the OA advantage for citation impact. The BOAI Forum, which I moderate, is also hosted at Southampton and temporarily offline.

Stevan Harnad writes (from a friend's account), "I hope files are not lost, but the worst case scenario could be the loss of the Hypermail version of the AmSci Archive (plus 20 years worth of back email files of my own). No lives were lost, but one of the world's most important optoelectronics labs has been."

Good luck to all our friends at Southampton in recovering from this disaster.

Six licenses for OA learning materials

Australia's AEShareNet has developed four instant licenses and two mediated licenses for OA learning materials. (Thanks to Beth Noveck.)

OA for developing countries and public health

Josefina Coloma and Eva Harris, Open-Access Science: A Necessity for Global Public Health, PLoS Pathogens, October 2005. Excerpt:
The world of scientific research and scholarly publishing is undergoing a profound transformation in large part due to the rapid development of information and communication technologies. The Internet and the advent of faster networking capabilities now allow virtually unlimited access to information, remote data gathering, real-time integration of data into databases and models, and online purchasing of research supplies. At the same time, it has opened new possibilities for researchers to communicate with colleagues and with the society in general. However, although some investigators in the developing world are keeping pace with this new reality, the majority are largely excluded from this transformation because of their limited access to scientific information. Particularly relevant to the area of pathogen research, the vast majority of infectious diseases in humans, animals, and plants occurs in the developing world, and efficient communication between local scientists in developing countries and the global community will facilitate advances in knowledge and control of these pathogens. Here we discuss open access and socially responsible philosophies in relation to scientific training, publishing, and intellectual property, and give examples of how we can help keep the developing world fully informed about these new models....In the developing world, scientists face a greater challenge to remain informed about the progress in their fields of research. Although they are disproportionately affected by infectious diseases, they are excluded from the relevant information that might help them cure, control, and manage the effects of these diseases....The first principle we should all support is that publicly funded research should be made publicly available through the most appropriate open-access channel. Funding agencies and reviewers need to give researchers credit, not penalize them, for efforts to publish in new open-access media. Even with strict peer review, new electronic journals will not immediately attain the same impact status as traditional print journals, but they will have a greater reach and a larger global influence. In fact, it has been shown that online accessibility increases the citation rate and, thus, the impact of a journal by 157%. This new online publishing venue might be the only way that scientists in the developing world conducting highly relevant research can make their data available to the world. It might also be the only means for them to obtain the most recent and relevant information for their research....We believe the whole spectrum of scientific endeavor should be as open access as possible, from training in laboratory and epidemiological techniques, proposal writing, and manuscript-writing skills to open-access publishing and socially responsible intellectual property policies. In this way, a new door of opportunity can be opened so that the fruits of our scientific breakthroughs are disseminated worldwide and benefit global public health.

OA on short list of essentials for health, education, and peace

Ian Yorston, A framework for development, The Unreasonable Man, October 29, 2005. Excerpt:
This article [by Mark Lewis in The Guardian] prompted me to muse on what frameworks we did need if we hoped to move the world forward, just a little bit....[Paraphrasing Nelson Mandela:] "Bringing together academic research and the practice of the world of business, work, entrepreneurship and development, he argued, would benignly steer both global corporate power and academic inquiry towards health, education and peace."...How short can we make the list? So far I have: [1] Open access to information - The Internet, Freedom of Information, Open Source, that kind of thing..., [2] An "evidence-based" culture - we know it works, we've got the science/metrics/evidence to prove it..., [3] The Principle of Charity - essentially a viewpoint that considers others..., [4] A little effort and a lot of patience.... Omissions, deletions? I'm open to suggestions.

The eIFL meeting in Vilnius

Mark Leggott has blogged a brief note on the recent eIFL meeting in Vilnius, which included some OA discussion. (Thanks to Richard Ackerman.) Excerpt:
It was a very good set of sessions but more importantly, it is a great group of people. In fact, it is the only other event I have attended that had a feel similar to Access. A close-knit group with a passion for the issues they are meeting to discuss with an opportunity to enjoy themselves. The group has representation from about 50 member countries, mostly from Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Much of the sessions were concerned with things open, so I really felt at home. What I particularly noticed was that the group is very keen to make use of open source and open content and is very savvy about the technology and issues - more, I suspect, than many people in North America would think. One of the key messages I take back from Vilnius is that we have a lot to learn from each other and I think eIFL has a key role to play in mobilizing the global library community to rally around all things open. Worth keeping an eye on eIFL over the coming year.

New OA multi-media journal in biomedical imaging

Tee Shiao Eek, Redefining the medical journal, Malaysian Star, October 30, 2005. Excerpt:
What if we could turn medical journals into essential tools of knowledge, without discriminating those who could not afford access?...In some ways, they couldn’t be less alike, the medical physicist and the radiologist. But Prof Ng Kwan Hoong and Assoc Prof Dr Basri J. J. Abdullah are definitely on the same wavelength when it comes to starting revolutions. Their brainchild, the Biomedical Imaging and Intervention Journal, is poised to challenge the traditional norms of academic journal publishing by breaking down the invisible barriers of access, as well as creating a new experience in journal-reading. A multidisciplinary, open access, fully online journal, the BIIJ caters to all disciplines involved in medical imaging. It is freely accessible by anyone with a computer, an Internet connection, and an interest in the field of medical imaging....“Traditionally, print journals are very expensive. A one-year subscription, for six issues a year, can go up to US$10,000 (RM37,700),” says medical physicist Prof Ng, one of the two honorary editors of the journal along with Dr Basri. When subscription fees are so prohibitive that not even universities and libraries are able to afford it, a lot of academicians and professionals in the field are left out in the cold. “What’s happening now is that if you don’t have the money, you can’t subscribe to these journals and you don’t have access to such information,” says Dr Basri, a consultant radiologist. “Knowledge is supposed to be free for all,” Prof Ng asserts. Is he being idealistic? Or merely reinforcing the Budapest Open Access Initiative, which arose from a meeting convened in December 2001 as an international effort to make research articles in all academic fields freely available on the Internet? It is more likely to be the latter, which has been the driving force behind this project....BIIJ goes one step beyond the usual PDF version and takes full advantage of the Internet’s multimedia capabilities, such as audio, video, animation, and simulation. "In an article, we could have lots of images or movies. For example, in an article about ultrasound in obstetrics, we can see a video of the baby moving,” Prof Ng describes. Static photographs and diagrams are becoming passé, particularly in the field of imaging, where “we are moving more into 3-D, real-time (images) – not just taking an x-ray – because that’s where the diagnostic information is,” he adds. To further exploit the potential of multimedia, BIIJ also has a Resources section that contains recorded presentations from meetings, as well as teaching materials.

An unsigned story in the same issue of the Malaysian Star gives more background on the BOAI. Excerpt:

The initiative defines “open access” [to research literature] as “its free availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself. The only constraint on reproduction and distribution, and the only role for copyright in this domain, should be to give authors control over the integrity of their work and the right to be properly acknowledged and cited.” The initiative has been signed by 3,863 individuals and 326 organisations, and a growing number of individuals and organisations from around the world who represent researchers, universities, laboratories, libraries, foundations, journals, publishers, learned societies, and kindred open-access initiatives. Other initiatives supporting the open access movement include the Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing, the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities, the UN World Summit on the Information Society Declaration of Principles and Plan of Action and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Declaration on Access to Research Data From Public Funding. Thanks to these initiatives, there is now a growing number of open access journals in all academic disciplines, from astronomy to zoology [PS: as well as a growing number of OA repositories]. Search for these journals at the Directory of Open Access Journals.

Lessig defends Google Library

Lawrence Lessig, Google's Tough Call, Wired Magazine, November 2005. Excerpt:
A decision will be made this November that may well change the Internet as we know it....Google must decide how it will handle the battle over its latest great idea: Google Print....[Like the Authors Guild] the AAP was insulted [by Google Library]; its CEO, Pat Schroeder, announced, "Google's procedure shifts the responsibility for preventing infringement to the copyright owner rather than the user, turning every principle of copyright law on its ear." Schroeder is right, but the Authors Guild and the AAP are wrong. Copyright law has been turned on its ear, but it's not Google that did the turning; it's the ­Internet. Nor is it Google that is exploiting this turn; that title goes to the Authors Guild and the AAP. Indeed, their claims about Google represent the biggest landgrab in the history of the Internet, and if taken seriously, will chill a wide range of innovation....Think about Google's core business: It copies whatever content it finds on the Web and puts that content in an index. It doesn't ask the copyright owner first, though it does exclude content if asked. Thus, Google wants to do for books exactly what it has always done for the Web. Why should one be illegal and the other different? Google creates value - a lot of it - by indexing existing content. But when it comes to books, the content owners want a slice of that value - and who wouldn't?...But the inspiration is not copyright, it's Tony Soprano­. Google wants to index content. Never in the history of copyright law would anyone have thought that you needed permission from a publisher to index a book's content. Imagine if a library needed consent to create­ a card catalog. But Google indexes by "copying." And since 1909, US copyright law has given copyright holders the exclusive right to control copies of their works. "Bingo!" say the content owners. But the Congress that altered the copyright­ statutes in 1909 didn't have Google Print in mind. By copy, Congress meant the sort of act that would be in competition with the incentives that copyright law was (fittingly) meant to establish for authors. Nothing in what Google wants to do affects those incentives to creativity. It is for this reason that many appropriately believe that Google's indexing of these copyrighted works is plainly fair use - meaning exempted from the control of copyright. But to reach that conclusion with confidence would require expensive litigation with an uncertain outcome. Thus the decision that will impact the Internet. A rich and rational (and publicly traded) company may be tempted to compromise - to pay for the "right" that it and others should get for free, just to avoid the insane cost of defending that right. Such a company is driven to do what's best for its shareholders. But if Google gives in, the loss to the Internet will be far more than the amount it will pay publishers. It will be a bad compromise for everyone working to make the Internet more useful - and for everyone who will ultimately use it.

More on Brewster Kahle and the OCA

Chris O'Brien, He fights for open access to the world's digital library, Mercury News, October 30, 2005. Excerpt:
Walking along the banks of the Charles River in Cambridge 25 years ago, an undergraduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology foresaw the impact that computer networks would have one day and decided there were two great causes he could devote his life to: encrypting digital information to protect privacy or building an online version of the Great Library of Alexandria. Brewster Kahle picked the library. "I've never had a new idea since then," Kahle said. "And it's been a great career path." Since then, every company or project started by the man who created the Internet Archive has been a step on the road to realizing the grand theme that drives his life: "universal access to all knowledge."..."Is the library of the future going to be open?" Kahle said. "Or will it be controlled by a couple of big corporate players?" bought Alexa in 1999 for $300 million, split between Kahle and a couple of other founders and investors. The money has left Kahle time to focus on the archive and things like the Open Content Alliance and its race with Google. On that front, one of Kahle's colleagues, O'Reilly, wonders about the intentions of partners like Yahoo and Microsoft: Are they really sincere? Or are they just trying to derail search-engine rival Google? "I'm worried that [the OCA] is being positioned as, 'We're not Google,'" O'Reilly said. And while O'Reilly supports both OCA and Google, he recently argued in a New York Times opinion piece that publishers and authors should embrace Google's approach, despite the controversy over copyright. O'Reilly believes Google's approach doesn't violate copyrights because it will only display a snippet of the book in the search results, and will also include a far greater number of books. Kahle disagrees. He believes Google should only include books with permission from the copyright holder. And Kahle believes it's important to remain philosophically pure to set a precedent for future open content debates. And, he believes that if his group succeeds, it will put pressure on Google to modify its program. "I'm very hopeful," Kahle said. "When I talk to [Google co-founder] Larry Page, I tell him if you just move five degrees to the left, we have one project. "If we get the balance right, we all win."

Chris O'Brien interviews Brewster Kahle in the same issue of Mercury News. Excerpt (quoting Kahle):

A I was always fascinated by the myth of the Great Library of Alexandria. It was the center of learning in Egypt until it burned down. The opportunity to build that again is a career-straightening maneuver. You set it out there, and check your progress against that each year. Universal access to all knowledge. I've adopted that as a goal, as a mission. The way information moved around when we were growing up was open. You visited a library, and everything was available. Now we're going through a digital information revolution. People are turning to the Internet as the library of the future. All the technological pieces -- the networks, the machines, the software -- are finally in place for this to happen. My whole career has been about what's happening right now. But now the question is: Do you want to be in an open system? Or do you want that information to be controlled by just a couple of corporations?...[Where has OA failed?] [L]ook at what has happened with still images. A company called Corbis, owned by Bill Gates, went to public libraries to digitize public domain images. They met with some resistance. But there was no public alternative. So now you have to go to Corbis and pay them, to get access to get digital copies of these images. If that happens to books and music, we'll lose more than just still images. If the intellectual discoveries go down that same path, it's just not in the tradition of our democracy....[Where has OA triumphed?] [T]he Human Genome Project. If you recall, the federal government set out to map the human genome. But a private company, Celera Genomics, came along and said they were going to digitize the human genome but you'd have to pay to license it. The public sphere, the National Institutes of Health, pulled together a distributed project to challenge Celera and decode the genome even faster. The public sphere rose to the occasion. Eventually, there was a very uncomfortable joint announcement with NIH and Celera where they agreed to jointly make the results available. In the end, the public won out. You can download it to your laptop. It's our literature. We own it.