Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Thursday, September 07, 2006

More on OA and the national interest

David Wiley, Open access threatens national security, Iterating Toward Openness, September 6, 2006. Excerpt:

One of the most amazing quotes I’ve seen in a while comes from Allan Adler, vice president for legal and government affairs of the Association of American Publishers, in an article about Open Access to Research.

[Mr. Adler] rejected the idea that taxpayer financed research should be open to the public, saying that it was in the national interest for it to be restricted to those who could pay subscription fees. “Remember — you’re talking about free online access to the world,” he said. “You are talking about making our competitive research available to foreign governments and corporations.”

There are just so many problems with this thinking that I don’t even know where to start. If the cost of making information available to the public who sponsored it is making it available to everyone on the planet, so be it. Let’s not use national security as an excuse to deprive the public of yet another right due them, let alone to further reinforce the problem of the rich getting richer.

And what are we afraid of, anyway? That our 5% of the population won’t be able to continue indefinitely in a lifestyle that consumes 25% of the planet’s resources? That someone else might improve their quality of life at the cost of our own?

Comments. When I blogged Adler's quote yesterday, I was inclined to let its absurdity speak for itself.   But I think David is right to take the time to show how dishonest it really is.  I'd add the following to what he has already said.

  1. We're talking about published research, not classified research that isn't published.
  2. Thank goodness our enemies can't afford to pay subscriptions or visit libraries.
  3. Thank goodness Americans have never benefited from scientific advances made by non-Americans.
  4. Thank goodness harming Americans has the side-effect of harming foreigners.  At least our sacrifice is not in vain.
  5. Thank goodness publishers are willing to collect subscription fees for this patriotic purpose.
  6. Thank goodness publishers are willing to shoulder the responsibility of controlling access to our research.   We realize that they didn't have to.  They didn't conduct this research, write it up, or fund it.