Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Richard Poynder interviews Richard Stallman

Richard Poynder has posted his interview with Richard Stallman. This is the latest installment of The Basement Interviews, Poynder's blog-based OA book of interviews with leaders of many related openness initiatives. Excerpt:

RP: What about the Open Access movement, which wants to see all scholarly papers made freely available on the Internet. Do you support that?

RS: Yes, and I am a signatory of the Budapest Initiative. I have, by the way, been urging them to make the freedom to redistribute a central part of their demands. It is not enough to have one site where everyone can download the information: people must be free to set up mirror sites too. However, when it comes to scientific papers I don't think people should have the freedom to publish modified versions; modified versions of someone else's scientific article are not a contribution to society.

Comment. (1) The freedom to redistribute is built into the BOAI vision of OA, which would remove permission barriers as well as price barriers. Some OA initiatives use central archives rather than distributed archives, but even they do not exclude the freedom to redistribute. (2) For some elaboration on Stallman's views on modifying scientific papers, see my newsletter for May 15, 2002: "Richard Stallman told me that he sees no good reason to use the GPL or copyleft for scientific journal articles....GPL makes more sense for software manuals or textbooks, where new developments create a need to modify the original text. But articles that report the result of an experiment, or the observations of a scientist, should not be modified."