Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Monday, July 09, 2007

New OA journal from Knowledge Ecology International

Knowledge Ecology Studies is a new OA journal from Knowledge Ecology International, a public-interest non-profit active in A2K issues. 

One of the articles in the inaugural issue is An Interview with James Boyle.  Excerpt:

Some highly visible groups have focused on the need for access and the freedom to use works. There are also discussions about new "business models" for knowledge goods, and the need to address the problems of earning a living. How do we reconcile the need for access with the need for investments and paychecks?

...I think we can learn from the environmental movement in both of those areas.

At its best, the environmental movement has worked because of the size of its big tent, and the diversity of the approaches being used within it. Greenpeace is very different from the Environmental Defense Fund, and both are different from the Audubon Society or a land trust. The combination of methods and perspectives is actually a strength not a weakness. The Access to Knowledge (A2K) movement strikes me as having many of the same virtues. As for business models and economic underpinnings, one of the interesting things about this movement is that a set of social justice movements (for example, those focused on Access to Medicines) and a set of groups who are interested in different business models based around distributed creativity (for example, open source software developers) have found common cause in criticizing aspects of the current "1 size fits all" model of intellectual property.

My own view is a very pragmatic one. Environmentalists initially distrusted market mechanisms. I think that a majority would now say that market based systems such as "cap and trade" are valuable tools in reducing emissions. The same goes for working with groups who aim to profit from distributed creativity. If companies such as IBM find shortcomings in our current system of intellectual property and knowledge transfer, then it is much more likely that those criticisms will be heard. This will be a much more effective attempt at legal reform if people are unable to tar it as anti-business or econophobic.

Also see Teresa Hackett's article, Open WIPO?, which was written before the recent good news that WIPO agreed to revise its mandate to include A2K issues.