Welcome to the Free Online Scholarship (FOS) NewsletterJanuary 8, 2002
Looking back at 2001
I haven't written a review of 2001 from an FOS perspective. It just didn't occur to me to take notes toward such a project as the year unfolded and now I'm too busy with 2002 news to go back. But here are some other reviews of 2001 that might interest you.
Paula Hane from _Information Today_ reviews 2001 from the standpoint of online information, including scholarly content.
Ellen Garner and the editors of _InformationWeek_ collect their best stories of 2001.
Chris Sherman of _SearchDay_ reviews 2001 from the standpoint of search engines.
Carl Kaplan reviews 2001 developments in internet law for the _New York Times_.(Cited in the last issue of FOSN but repeated here)
Mike Godwin from _IP Worldwide_ reviews 2001 from the standpoint of intellectual property law.
The ACLU's Barry Stein is interviewed in _Wired_ about civil liberties in 2001.
The most FOS-relevant and personally gratifying item for this list is not yet available. Péter Jacsó writes a column for _Information Today_, and devotes his January column every year to cheers and jeers about news events in the previous year. This year his column focuses on digital publishing, and he singles out the FOS Newsletter for cheers. Unfortunately, his column is one of the few articles in the January _IT_ that is not in the free online edition. The print edition may come out any day now, or may already have come out. But I'm living this year in rural Maine where no newsstand or bookstore in a 50 mile radius sells _IT_. (I've checked.) I *will* get the text, so you needn't send it to me, but it's ironic that this is the first story I've ever wanted to cover in FOSN that I couldn't cover from resources online or at hand. I hope to have excerpts of Jacsó's column to share with you next week.
The January issue of _Information Today_
* Here are some articles looking in the other direction and anticipating developments in 2002.
Michael Geist, author of BNA's _Internet Law News_, predicts the major internet law news of 2002.
The _New York Times_ has a series of articles on "Trends To Watch", of which two are relevant for us. Amy Harmon looks at the trends in copyright and online privacy.
John Schwartz looks at the trends in threats, and responses to threats, to the U.S. information infrastructure.
American Geophysical Union price hikeThe American Geophysical Union has suddenly and significantly raised the prices for the online versions of its journals. Librarians are starting to rebel.
AGU's explanation of its price hike
Library beefs on the liblicense discussion list
The Los Alamos National Laboratory Research Library Newsletter recommendation to drop AGU journals
Another group that wants to give you money and shrink your audience
Knexa is a new online marketplace for buying and selling digital articles and books. Authors set the prices on their works and would-be readers either pay the price or make auction-like bids. Readers can browse through the items for sale or ask a question and wait for an author to propose a priced answer. Users can rate the selling authors and are encouraged to base their purchases in part on these ratings. Knexa takes a 20% commission on each sale.
Knexa home page
* Postscript. Knexa isn't the first service of this kind. (See e.g. Yaga, described in FOSN for 12/19/01.) It's inconceivable that scholarly literature in general will move to these bazaars. But is it possible that they have the insidious potential to sap the tradition in which scholars write journal articles for the sake of advancing research rather than remuneration? Without this tradition, FOS is impossible. More important, without this tradition, wide-ranging, fruitful inquiry is impossible. It's fair to say that the tradition of donating journal articles arose not because scholars put the public good above their own financial interests, but because no one publishing a journal was in a position to pay for contributions. Scholars continue to donate articles in part because it's tradition, in part because no journals will pay, and only in small part because this practice contributes to the public good. Moreover, scholars tend to be impecunious. Putting these variables together, one has reason to wonder whether these bazaars could chip away at this tradition by offering cash instead of wider readership and impact. If you weren't already a friend of FOS convinced that charging for journal articles clogs the arteries of inquiry, would you be tempted?
* PPS. Knexa is a public company (ticker symbol KNX), but Bloomberg Online, CNNfn, Motley Fool, and the Wall Street Journal have never heard of it.
WIPO turns to FOS for help
In the recent Vodafone cybersquatting case, the WIPO arbitrators went beyond the evidence submitted by the two parties and consulted the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine. The archive showed the accused squatter squatting and angling for a buy-out, and on that basis the panel ruled against her.
The WIPO decision in the Vodafone case
WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) home page
The Internet Archive's Wayback Machine
* Postscript. This story isn't strongly FOS-related but I'm fascinated by it for several reasons. First, I'm pleased to see arbitrators use relevant, admissible evidence even when the parties didn't submit it --i.e. to see good judges make up for bad lawyering. Second, I'm pleased to see critical evidence come from a free online web archive. Third, I love the irony in the fact that a WIPO panel, which has good reason to deplore the Wayback Machine, has found it so useful. Defenders of the copyright industry, like WIPO, might well deplore the Wayback Machine precisely because it gives free online access to content, like old newspaper stories, for which publishers would like to charge access fees (see FOSN for 11/9/01). Of course, the fact that one WIPO panel found the Wayback Machine useful in this case doesn't mean that another WIPO arm won't to try to unplug the Wayback Machine in future proceedings.
Liability for searching?
Liam Youens couldn't find his ex-girlfriend's social security number on the web, so he paid an information broker, Docusearch, $45 to dig it up. Docusearch dug it up; Youens used it to find her current place of work; then he drove there and killed her. The woman's family is suing Docusearch for wrongful death, a tort. Docusearch admits that it used "pretexting" (i.e. lying over the telephone) to get the social security number. But it argues that it cannot be liable for locating "generally public information" or for pretexting, which is routinely used by police and private detectives.
* Postscript. If Youens could have found the social security number on Google, could Google be sued for wrongful death? As search engines get ever more probing and comprehensive, will they be liable for disclosing information to stalkers or terrorists? If we recognize that some information is not hidden by inaccessibility but only by a high degree of difficulty, then will we be able to maintain a firm distinction between lawful searching and unlawful invasions of privacy, trade secrets, or military intelligence? As the arms race between information hiders and information seekers escalates, when will obtaining obtainable information be protected by law and when could it be construed as a tort or crime?
* A Canadian company, UFIL Unified Data Technologies, claims that the Resource Description Framework (RDF) violates one of its patents, and is taking steps to enforce its patent. The FOS connection: RDF is crucial for the harmony of different metadata vocabularies, for the machine readability of metadata, and for the semantic web. The future of interoperable FOS archives will be put in jeopardy if they must either do without RDF or pay royalties for using it.
* The working draft of XML 1.1 has been released.
See Leigh Dodds' survey of opinion on 1.1.
* The Society of American Archivists has established a Task Force on Electronic Publishing.
* The European Standards Organizations have agreed to make all their standards freely available online.
The standards themselves
* The California Judicial Council has decided to require free online access to court records in most civil cases but to retain limits on online access to court documents in criminal cases. The new acces rules go into effect on July 1.
* Most agencies of the U.S. federal government are confused about whether official records can be electronic and, if so, how to store them. So after producing electronic records, these agencies store printouts, and sometimes delete the electronic originals. (PS: Insert your own punchline here.)
* Medstract has just released ArcoMed 1.0, a free online database of medical abbreviations and acronyms. It can help human researchers directly, but its main purpose is to help Medstract's text analysis software mine data and extract information from Medline.
* CORDIS now offers a customization service, MyCORDIS. CORDIS is the European Union's Community Research and Development Information Service. The new customization feature allows users to see only the subset of CORDIS' huge array of projects and information most relevant to their interests.
* The British Library's Document Supply Centre supplied its 100 millionth document in December.
* GetInfo is a new portal and document delivery service for German science and technology. While the corporate framework has been established, the service itself won't launch until later this year. GetInfo asks authors to deposit their preprints in its database. For users, searching may be free but access to full-text will not be free. (PS: Imagine an arXiv that charged for full-text access. Is it too late to derail this train?)
* Whitaker LibWeb is a searchable database of books in print, and it's not free (except for a 30 day trial period). For the money, it offers a few metadata bits per book that Amazon doesn't deliver for free. But enough to justify the price?
* B-Bop has released Xfinity Author wX version 2.1, software to convert MS Word documents to XML. It uses the formatting and semantic information coded in Word style sheets as the basis for the XML metadata elements.
* Google has enhanced phrase searching by adding a wildcard that can stand in for whole words.
* Representative Dick Boucher (D-VA) has reaffirmed his plan to introduce a bill to repeal the most objectionable anti-circumvention clause of the DMCA (see FOSN for 9/14/01).
Boucher's Congressional home page
Share your thoughts
* The UK government would like your thoughts on a draft recommendation to use more open source software in government offices. It welcomes public comment on the recommendations until March 2.
* Search Engine Watch wants you to vote in the 2001 Search Engine Watch Awards. The web site gives no voting deadline.
* Declan Butler, European Correspondent for _Nature_, is looking for responses by libraries and foundations to BioMed Central's decision to charge processing fees for most of the articles it publishes (FOSN for 12/19/01, 12/26/01, 1/1/02). If you represent a library or foundation, send your thoughts directly to <d.butler [at] nature-france.com>.
In other publications
* In the January 7 _Salon_, Katharine Mieszkowski tells the very interesting story of how Google and some of its geeky net detectives tracked down all the pieces of the usenet archive it now has online (see FOSN for 12/12/01).
* In a January 5 editorial in _BMJ_ (formerly _British Medical Journal_), Richard Smith reports that the free online version of BMJ has "many more readers" than the print edition. Clearly this doesn't undermine print sales: Smith reiterates BMJ's commitment to provide free online access to all its contents. In fact, the print BMJ is a subset of the online BMJ, rather than the other way around. The BMJ web site contains free full-text back to 1994. "The future is not 'paper or electronic' but 'paper and electronic'." The only thing missing from Smith's editorial is an explanation of how BMJ balances the books while giving away its content online. If other journals could see the explanation, and not just the example, then they might be persuaded to follow suit.
Postscript. It appears that BMJ has discovered that free online access adds more print sales than it subtracts, or at least that print sales suffice to subsidize free online access with some profit left over. If so, this is especially important because this phenomenon has been well-attested for books but not yet for journals. The National Academy Press (NAP), the Brookings Institute, MIT Press, Illinois, and Columbia are among the book publishers that have confirmed this phenomenon for books. In FOSN for 7/17/01 and 7/31/01, I speculated that the difference between books and journals for this purpose was that researchers with free online access to journal articles have no need for print copies, or can print their own off the web, but those with free online access to books may have several reasons to want a print copy as well. If BMJ has discovered that journal publishers benefit from FOS as much as book publishers do, it would be very important to see a more detailed explanation, something analogous to NAP Director Michael Jensen's account of why NAP profits by giving away its books online.
* In the January 4 _Washington Post_, Ariana Eunjung Cha reports on a disturbing rise in the use of IP-tracking software for identifying the nationality of web users and limiting the content they can download in accordance with their nation's laws. (I argued that this software could undermine academic freedom and online free speech in FOSN for 11/16/01.)
* In the January 4 _Salon_, Jeffrey Benner shows that many universities would rather profit from software developed in their labs than advance research. One fascinating example directly concerns the origin of the internet. In 1992, the University of California at Berkeley released its version of Unix and TCP/IP into the public domain. These technologies were already in growing use but previously required small fees. The free versions rapidly accelerated the growth of the internet. Bill Hoskins, director of Berkeley's Office of Technology Licensing, says that if the question came up today, Berkeley would sell the rights to a corporation in exchange for royalties. Benner's article is about software but it has many implications for scholarship. Quoting Larry Smarr, professor of CS at U.C. San Diego: "Some universities are dead set against giving away [source code]. But I don't think universities should be in the moneymaking business. They ought to be in the changing-the-world business, and open source is a great vehicle for changing the world." Quoting Rebecca Eisenberg, professor of law at the University of Michigan: "You can make a clear case that research is being slowed by intellectual property claims." Quoting Ian Foster, a computer scientist at Argonne National Labs: "I believe that in almost all cases, the interests of science and society alike are best served by free distribution of software produced in research labs and universities. Unfortunately, there are still institutions that place significant obstacles in the way of researchers who wish to follow this path. Agencies funding research could help things by making strong statements in favor of open source, so that this is the norm rather than the exception."
* In the January 3 _Writ_, Chris Sprigman gives a legal perspective on the copy protection schemes, or "lockware", that entertainment companies use for copy protection of their digital content. Sprigman criticizes lockware for denying users their fair-use rights. He defends fair use on both constitutional and policy grounds. He also argues that there may be a "right of access" to digital content that was not recognized in the age of analog content. In the analog world, access to information not in your own possession was rarely if ever germane to your fair-use rights; but in a digital world, the two are closely connected. Finally, he argues that the solution is not to ban DRM software, but to use it to enforce both owners' rights and users' fair-use rights --once we reach a social consensus on the true boundaries of fair use.
* Philip Davis has a preprint on his web site of an article forthcoming in the January issue of _portal_. In a study of the life science journals received at Cornell, he found that those most cited by Cornell researchers also had the lowest subscription prices. The study focused on Cornell-authored citations rather than general citations in order to determine which journals were most needed in the Cornell library. If the Cornell experience is matched elsewhere, then the good news for librarians is that you can build an institution-specific "core" collection, cut less used titles, and save money at the same time.
* In the January issue of _Computers in Libraries_, Jeanne Holba Puacz gives libraries tips on how to attract "e-patrons" --i.e. web visitors.
* In a January posting to the _Center for Digital Government_, Rhonda Wilson describes the Center's recent survey of egovernment initiatives in the 50 American states. The survey shows that Illinois and Kansas tied for first place.
The full survey is online here.
* In the January issue of _Information Today_, Stephanie Ardito describes the "moral rights" that have grown up alongside copyright. This legal term of art is misleading because in some countries moral rights are bona fide legal rights written into statutes or treaties and enforceable in courts. Moral rights give authors the right to claim authorship over their own works and to restrain the publication of improperly cited or mutilated versions of their works, even if they have no copyright. Ardito argues that the U.S. needs moral rights legislation to protect authors after the Supreme Court's June decision in Tasini (see FOSN for 7/17/01).
* Also in the January issue of _Information Today_, Paula Hane summarizes the proceedings of the Internet Librarian 2001 conference in Pasadena.
* In the December 24 _InformationWeek_, Rick Whiting describes an experiment at the University of Illinois at Chicago to enable huge databases to swap huge data files without an FTP bottleneck to slow them down.
* In the December 16 _Washington Post_, Steven Hensen argues that in a democracy, the papers of past presidents should be accessible to citizens, journalists, and historians. In a November executive order, President Bush gave past presidents, their families, their lawyers, and the incumbent president, the right to block access to their papers, apparently forever. Hensen is the president of the Society of American Archivists.
* In the November-December issue of _Science Editor_ has several FOS-related articles. Unfortunately not even abstracts are available free online.
Anon., The Arcanum of Bricks and Clicks: What is the Right Mix to Survive in Today's Publishing Watershed?
Manjit Sahai, Indexing Web Sites and Online Documents
Anon., To XML or Not to XML: That's Not Even the Question Anymore
* The most recent issue of _Library Hi Tech_ is dedicated to ebooks and has a large number of FOS-related articles. Only short abstracts are available free online.
Karen Coyle, Stakeholders and Standards in the E-Book Ecology: Or, It's the Economics, Stupid!
Roberta Burk, E-Book Devices and the Marketplace: In Search of Customers
Ray Lonsdale and Chris Armstrong, Electronic Books: Challenges for Academic Libraries
Lynn Silipigni Connaway, A Web-Based Electronic Book Library: The netLibrary Model
Carol Ann Hughes and Nancy Buchanan, Use of Electronic Monographs in the Humanities and Social Sciences
Gary Brown, Beyond Print: Reading Digitally
Ron Gilmour, Serving XML: Practical Techniques for the Dissemination of Structured Electronic Information
Michael Seadle, Copyright in the Networked World: Multimedia Fair Use
* The most recent issue of _The Electronic Library_ has these two FOS-related articles. Only short abstracts are available free online.
Alice Keller, Future Development of Electronic Journals
Yuhfen Diana Wu and Mengxiong Liu, Content Management and the Future of Academic Libraries
* The Fall-Winter issue of _American Archivist_ contains a number of FOS-related articles. Only abstracts are available free online.
Maria Guercio, Principles, Methods and Instruments for the Creation, Preservation and Use of Archival Records in the Digital Environment
Elizabeth Dow and five co-authors, The Burlington Agenda: Research Issues in Intellectual Access to Electronically Published Historical Documents
* The keynote address by Rush Miller and Sherrie Schmidt at an August conference in Northumbria is now online. Miller and Schmidt describe ARL's E-Metrics Project, which aims to help libraries collect useful data on the usage of electronic resources.
* More details on the lawsuit against the makers of a t-shirt containing the DeCSS source code (see FOSN for 1/1/02). The DVD Copy Control Association considers the t-shirt an "anti-circumvention" device that violates the DMCA.
Catching up (old news I should have discovered earlier)
* Lois Schultz maintains an index of free online archives of sheet music.
* England's Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA) has a web form for whistleblowers to turn in colleagues who make illegal copies of copyrighted material.
America's AAP used to have such a service (FOSN for 10/5/01) but the URL that was valid in October is now dead. Does anyone know whether the AAP is still soliciting whistleblowers?
* Employees of UK institutions of higher education may receive Zetoc, a free table-of-contents alert service from the British Library. Zetoc covers 20,000 journals and 16,000 sets of conference proceedings every year.
Those ineligible to receive Zetoc for free may subscribe to a similar service, Inside Alert, also from the British Library, for $19 US per year per journal.
* E-Streams is a free online journal offering summaries of priced books in Engineering, Agriculture, Medicine, and Science. I wish this service existed for my field.
* The First Report of the Working Group on Communications in Physics was put online in July 2001. This is a set of recommendations from a working group of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP) on the online accessibility of physics articles. Section 5 of the report makes a point I haven't seen made elsewhere: strict enforcement of copyright laws to impede access to online physics articles "may threaten the right recognized by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in its article 27.1, [providing] access to culture, education, information and scientific research." (Does anyone know whether the IUPAP has adopted these recommendations, or whether any court has ever ruled that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights trumps national and international copyright laws?)
In the January issue of _Information Today_, Dick Kaser interviews Dick Harrington, CEO of Thomson Corp. Quoting Harrington: "We're not 100-percent electronic, but our strategy is 100-percent electronic. We embrace it. We were really one of the first ones to embrace it fully and to utilize it. We'll do over a billion dollars in Internet revenues this year....What is changing is that as the competition narrows to a handful of major players, the players that listen best, that command the deepest understanding of your needs, and have the greatest flexibility to fulfill them will be your partners of choice."
My list of FOS policy statements by learned societies and professional associations has grown to eight statements. I'm sure there are more out there. If you belong to a society or association that has taken a stand on FOS issues, please send me the URL of its public statement and I'll add it to the list.
If you plan to attend one of the following conferences, please share your observations with us through our discussion forum.
* Intellectual Property Rights in the Knowledge-Based EconomyStanford, January 9-10
* Mathematical Challenges in Scientific Data MiningLos Angeles, January 14-18
* Academic Institutions Transforming Scholarly Communications (SPARC/ARL Forum at the ALA Midwinter Meeting)New Orleans, January 18-23
* Electronic Texts in the 21st Century (another forum at the ALA Midwinter Meeting)New Orleans, January 18-23
* Changing Business Models for Journal PublishingLondon, January 24
* Intellectual Property and New Business Creation from Science and TechnologyOxford, January 27 - February 1
* High Quality Information For Everyone And What It CostsBielefeld, February 5-7
* International Conference on Bioinformatics 2002: North-South NetworkBangkok, February 6-8
* E-volving Information futuresMelbourne, February 6-8
* Kongress für digitale InhalteWiesbaden, February 7-8
* Book Tech 2002New York, February 11-13
* ICSTI Seminar on Digital Preservation of the Record of ScienceParis, February 14-15
* Conference on Intelligent Text Processing and Computational LinguisticsMexico City, February 17-23
* Wissensmanagement im universitären BereichFebruary 19-20
* Symposium on Foundations of Information and Knowledge SystemsSchloß Salzau, February 19-23
* Fifth International Publishers Association Copyright ConferenceAccra, Ghana, February 20-22
* Integrating @ Internet Speed: Strategies for the Content Community [conference on reference linking]Philadelphia, February 24-27
* Getting your message across: How learned societies and other organizations can influence public and government opinionLondon, February 25
* Electronic Journals --Solutions in Sight?London, February 25-26
* A Symposium on the Research Value of Printed Materials in the Digital AgeCollege Park, Maryland, March 1
* International Spring School on the Digital Library and E-publishing for Science and TechnologyGeneva, March 3-8
* 17th ACM Symposium on Applied Computing. Special tracks on Database and Digital Library Technologies; Electronic Books for Teaching and Learning; and Information Access and RetrievalMadrid, March 10-14
* Digitization for Cultural Heritage Professionals: An Intensive ProgramChapel Hill, North Carolina, March 10-15
* EUSDIC Spring Meeting. E-Content: Divide or RuleParis, March 11-12
* Knowledge Technologies Conference 2002Seattle, March 11-13
* Computers in Libraries 2002Washington D.C., March 13-15
* International Conference on the Statistical Analysis of Textual DataSt. Malo, March 13-15
* The Electronic Publishers Coalition (EPC) conference on ebooks and epublishing (obscurely titled, Electronically Published Internet Connection, or EPIC)Seattle, March 14-16
* Internet Librarian International 2002London, March 18-20
* The New Information Order and the Future of the ArchiveEdinburgh, March 20-23
* Electronic Publishing StrategyLondon, March 22
* European Colloquium on Information Retrieval ResearchGlasgow, March 25-27
* New Developments in Digital LibrariesCiudad Real, Spain, April 2-3
* The New Information Order and the Future of the ArchiveEdinburgh, March 20-23
* International Conference on Information Technology: Coding and ComputingLas Vegas, April 8-10
* NetLat and Friends: 10 Years of Digital Library DevelopmentLund, April 10-12
* International Learned Journals Seminar: We Can't Go On Like This: The Future of JournalsLondon, April 12
* SIAM International Conference on Data MiningArlington, Virginia, April 11-13
* Creating access to information: EBLIDA workshop on getting a better deal from your information licencesThe Hague, April 12
* United Kingdom Serials Group Annual Conference and ExhibitionUniversity of Warwick, April 15- 17
* Information, Knowledges and Society: Challenges of A New EraHavana, April 22-26
The Free Online Scholarship Newsletter is supported by a grant from the Open Society Institute.
This is the Free Online Scholarship Newsletter (ISSN 1535-7848).
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Copyright (c) 2002, Peter Suber