Welcome to the Free Online Scholarship (FOS) Newsletter
     January 30, 2002

Thoughts on commercial use of FOS

I've been arguing with friends recently about the commercial repackaging of FOS.  If authors create free online access to their work, then it's not only free for researchers but also for commercial publishers.  What rights should users have to incorporate FOS into commercial products (with or without add-ons) and what rights should authors have to block it?  (See FOSN for 7/17/01 and 8/7/01.)

Now I know that true friends of FOS can disagree strongly on this question.  Some other time I can go over the major arguments pro and con. Right now I want to focus on the fact of the disagreement itself.

The disagreement is somewhat ominous to me because the open software movement experienced a schism on just this point.  The free software wing of the movement (the Richard Stallman school) blocks commercial use, while the open source wing of the movement (the Eric Raymond school) permits it.

The free software school uses the GNU General Public License (GPL), which requires those who adopt, modify, and redistribute GPL code to give their users all the rights they themselves enjoyed, including the right to see and modify the code free of charge.  That prevents commercial use and that is part of the point.  It's also one reason why Microsoft is blowing the trumpet to warn corporate America not to use code protected by the GPL.

The open source movement doesn't use just one kind of license, the way the free software movement uses the GPL.  But the open source licenses typically allow users to incorporate open source code into larger projects which are then sold for profit as closed source packages.  Section 1 of the official Open Source Definition asserts that open source licenses "shall not restrict any party from selling or giving away the software as a component of an aggregate software distribution containing programs from several different sources. The license shall not require a royalty or other fee for such sale."  This is why, for example, IBM can incorporate the Apache server (open source) into WebSphere (closed source) and sell it.

There is at least one reason to fear that the FOS movement may bifurcate along similar lines:  its proponents already disagree on this question.

But there are some reasons to think that it may not bifurcate.  There are several differences between scholarship and software that may be germane here.  One is that software has a greater potential for commercial success than scholarship.  More people are willing to buy it and the market for it will bear higher prices.  Another is that the authors of scholarship tend not to be the parties who profit from its sale, while the reverse is true for software.  A third difference is that scholars build on previous scholarship by quoting and citing it, not by copying and modifying it.  Will these differences make a difference?

One way to avert bifurcation seems unavailable to us, namely, to convert people who think one way to think the other way instead.  By all means let the reasoned discourse continue.  But I suspect that this is an issue calling for political accommodation, or agreement to disagree, not for the clincher argument that converts infidels and certainly not for the One True Church that suppresses free thinkers.

I've moved around a bit since I started thinking about these issues.  I now lean toward permitting commercial use.  But I want to make this preference genial, or compatible with the opposite preference, so that the FOS movement can recruit and retain authors who oppose commercial use.  I also want an exception to prevent the exploitation of consumers who, if they were better informed, would not buy what they could get for free.  Is there room for waffling here?  Could evangelistic waffling prevent bifurcation?

What do you think?  Will the open scholarship movement bifurcate?  Are there steps we can take now to prevent bifurcation?

Free Software Foundation (Stallman school)

Open Source Initiative (Raymond school)

GNU General Public License (GPL)

Open Source Definition version 1.9 (see Section 1)

Open Source Licenses

Apache open source license

IBM's WebSphere

Microsoft's opposition to GPL

* Postscript.  For a case study in the blending of FOS and commercial interests, see the next story.


FOS concessions at Elsevier

Elsevier's Scirus now searches arXiv.  Scirus is a free search engine of (mostly) unfree literature.  It ranges over all of Elsevier's priced ejournals and some free sources as well.  Now arXiv is among the free sources.
(Thanks to NewsLink.)

This is not a large concession to FOS.  It's more a way to bundle a free service with a paid service in order to enhance the package for paying customers, like a restaurant offering all the water you can drink.  It gives more bang for the buck and it doesn't matter that the extra bang is also available to those with no bucks.  Last year the Chemical Abstracts Service did the same thing when it added one-click Google searches to its paid service, eScience (see FOSN for 7/17/01).

But this does recognize arXiv as a source of worthy literature --a free service that enhances the paid service rather than simply cluttering it.  It recognizes arXive as a source worth searching by scientists and worth bragging about in an Elsevier press release.  This recognition may be more important than the searching itself.  It can't be a concession that Elsevier is ready to revoke if FOS gets too threatening.  Removing a popular body of literature from the Scirus index will be like --removing free water from restaurant tables.  And in any case, it's hard to imagine a more popular FOS source than arXiv already is among physicists.  So this looks like a long-term accommodation.  But if so, what does that mean for other FOS sources that the scientific users of Scirus would like to search as well, especially future sources that approach arXiv in popularity?

Jan Velterop has pointed out to me that for some time Elsevier journals have permitted author self-archiving.  Elsevier doesn't allow authors to put their refereed postprints in a free archive, but it does allow authors to keep unrefereed preprints in free archives in perpetuity.

Self-archiving of preprints isn't quite as useful as self-archiving of postprints, but certainly good enough.  To supplement an archived preprint, the author can always add a page of corrigenda explaining how the preprint differs from the postprint, and thereby give users of the free archive all the pieces of the final draft.

In one sense Elsevier's concession here is also small, because journals have no legal basis to object to the presence of preprints in free archives.  (If authors transfer copyright to a journal, they do so for the revised final draft, not for the preprint.)  But for the same reason, Elsevier didn't have to say in public that it permitted this practice.  It might have hoped that authors wouldn't know their rights or take full advantage of them.

Finally, of course, Elsevier has its own large experiment in FOS, offering most of the contents of ChemWeb and all the contents of the Chemistry Preprint Server at no charge.

How do you read these signs?  Is it an experiment to see whether FOS can be economically self-sustaining?  (ChemWeb is supported by advertisers and sponsors.)  To see whether alliances with FOS (through Scirus and self-archiving) help or hurt the bottom line?  Is it an attempt to learn the economics and markets of FOS in order to be a few steps ahead of competitors when FOS becomes the dominant form of scholarly publishing?  Is this the scholarly publishing version of Microsoft's "embrace and extend" strategy?


Two other FOS declarations

In the last issue I featured the Declaration of Havana.  Clicking around the sites of its backers I found two related public statements.  Both, like the Declaration of Havana, focus on the benefits of FOS for developing countries.

The _Declaration of San José Towards the Virtual Health Library_ was issued in San José, Costa Rica, on March 27, 1998, by the delegates of the Latin American and Caribbean System on Health Sciences Information (Bireme).  The declaration asserts that "access to information" is "essential" to achieve the goals of health, well-being, equity of living conditions, and development.  One purpose of the statement is to support the Virtual Health Library, a free online archive of health information for the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean.

San José declaration

Virtual Health Library

The _Statement from Cuban Health Care Workers and Christian Institutions_ was issued on February 1, 1996.  It asserts that "access to information" is not only essential for health care workers, but can save lives "more effectively than any medicine or new techniques".  One purpose of the statement is to support Project InfoMed, a project providing free online access to medical journals and medical information primarily within Cuba.  The statement also calls on the U.S. not to embargo the hardware (the "computers which represent a humanitarian gesture of solidarity") needed to support InfoMed.

Statement from Cuban Health Care Workers
(Scroll down about 60% of the page.)

Project Infomed
(Same URL as above)


Chilling scholars

Two recent stories show how scholars can be chilled in their free speech rights, in one case by a government that treats criticism as terrorism and in the other by university administrators who treat criticism as defamation.

In the first, the government of Turkey has charged Noam Chomsky's Turkish publisher with violating counter-terrorist legislation that prohibits the incitement of separatist violence.  Chomsky recently published a book of essays in which he criticizes Turkey's treatment of the Kurds.  Chomsky's Turkish publisher faces a year in prison.

In the second story, a federal court in Louisiana has given a California ISP until February 8 to identify the anonymous professor from the University of Louisiana at Monroe who used a web site hosted by the ISP to criticize university administrators.  The web site alleges that administrators misused university funds and concealed information that they had done so.  The anonymous professor is providing the lawyer to defend the ISP in court.

Noam Chomsky story
(accessible only to paying subscribers of CHE)

University of Louisiana story
(accessible to non-subscribers)

* Postscript.  The EFF and Harvard's Berkman Center are collaborating on a Chilling Effects Clearinghouse, a web site to monitor legal threats from lawyers to citizens who have exercised their online speech rights.



* The _Journal of High Energy Physics_ (JHEP), an early leader among FOS journals, will start to charge subscription fees at the end of 2002.  It has been free since its launch in 1997.  This was first announced in a November 12 press release in the _Institute of Physics News_ and recently elaborated in a thread of the September98 discussion forum.  As Stevan Harnad points out in the forum, "[T]he ultimate irony is this: Virtually 100% of the papers appearing in JHEP are also self-archived by their authors in http://www.arxiv.org .  So even now that access to JHEP will become toll-based, the free versions will remain accessible through Arxiv!"

November 12 press release

Discussion thread in September98 forum

* The Internet Scout Report has launched a new series of free online newsletters called NSDL Scout Reports, one for the life sciences, one for the physical sciences, and one for math, engineering, and technology.  Each describes new online resources in the relevant fields, with links of course.  I suspect that most of the resources covered by the new reports will be free.  But the only connection to the NSDL in these NSDL Scout Reports is that some NSDL money is subsidizing them.  (NSDL is a huge free online archive of the sciences now under construction.)

NSDL Scout Reports


* Australia's Northern Territory is considering a bill to provide "public access to information held by the public sector".
(Thanks to NewsAgent.)

* The OCLC purchase of netLibrary was final on January 24.
(Thanks to LibLicense.)

* Questia laid off 40 more workers last week, leaving only a "skeleton crew" of 28 (FOSN for 11/26/01).  Questia sells online access to literature at high prices to college students who don't realize or don't care that they can get free access from their libraries.  One of Questia's finantial backers is Enron CEO Ken Lay.
(Thanks to LibLicense.)

* The its mid-winter meeting, the American Library Association (ALA) adopted a Resolution Reaffirming the Principles of Intellectual Freedom in the Aftermath of [the] Terrorist Attacks.  The resolution reaffirms that the ALA "[a]ctively promotes dissemination of true and timely information necessary to the people in the exercise of their rights...[o]pposes government censorship of news media and suppression of access to unclassified government information...[and] [u]pholds a professional ethic of facilitating access to information, not monitoring access".
(Thanksk to C-FIT.  Not yet on the ALA site.)


New on the net

* The U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) has put online its Biennial Report to Congress on the Status of GPO Access.  "GPO Access" is the free online information service of the GPO and one of the richest sources of FOS in the U.S.  GPO Access hosts 2,200+ free online databases in addition to 130,000+ free online government documents and links to 94,000+ free online documents elsewhere.  Since May of last year, users have downloaded more than 30 million documents per month from the GPO web sites.
(Thanks to Current Cites.)

* The Kinetica Expert Advisory Group on Access to Electronic Resources has put online its final report on the Survey to Identify Major Electronic Collections in Australian Libraries.
(Thanks to the Scholarly Electronic Publishing Weblog.)

* The CIA has launched a free Electronic Reading Room.  Essentially this is a new front-end to its existing collection of free online documents.
(Thanks to Gary Price's VASND.)

* _Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews_ is a new, free online journal publishing substantial reviews of new books in philosophy.  Readers may read the reviews at the web site or sign up to receive them by email.

* The Lemur Toolkit is an open source set of tools for language modeling and information retrieval, including cross-language information retrieval.  It can also do text summaries and classification.  The code is now available for downloading.
(Thanks to DigLib.)

* The WIPOUT essay contest is the subversive shadow of the WIPO essay contest (see FOSN for 9/6/01).  Both ask the same question, "What does intellectual property mean to you in your daily life?"  WIPOUT was created as a forum for answers that might not be welcome by the WIPO judges, such as, "I can't photocopy the texts I want for my students" or "I can't put my own essays on my own web site."  The submission deadline isn't until March 15.  But you can now order WIPOUT posters and read essays already submitted to the contest.  A very large number of these essays have an FOS connection.

* A series of server crashes has interrupted access to Kluwer's online journals for many libraries, which has these paying subscribers understandably peeved.  Librarians are sharing suggestions in a thread on the LibLicense discussion forum.  I like David Goodman's suggestion:  "In situations like this, where the problem is the access control rather than the source data, the best course for publishers is to simply make access free to everyone until they have fixed the problem."


In other publications

* In the February _Cites & Insights_, Walt Crawford has (1) a good list of copyright developments in that past year that have affected libraries or scholarship, and (2) a review of the text-e virtual symposium on digital publishing along with his own responses to the symposium papers by Roger Chartier, Roberto Casati, Stevan Harnad, and Bruce Patino.

* In the February 1 _Chronicle of Higher Education_, Colin Day explores what a truly global exchange of ideas would be like, in which publications from developed countries didn't only address readers in other developed countries, and publications from less developed countries had serious readers in developed countries.  Publishers that aim their publications at markets where more readers and institutions can pay the purchase price are publishers who (as Day paraphrases Chen Kwan-hsing) "accept and reinforce the hegemony of American ideas".  (Day doesn't discuss FOS as a solution to this problem.)
(accessible only to paying subscribers of CHE)

* In the January 23-30 _Journal of the American Medical Association_, Eric Campbell and six co-authors report that some geneticists withhold data despite the important scientific tradition of "free and open sharing of information, data, and materials".  About half the geneticists surveyed said at least 1% of their requests for others' data had been denied.  Postpublication requests were denied 10% of the time.  28% reported that data withholding had prevented them from confirming the published results of other scientists.
(Thanks to Vicky Reich.  PS:  This link takes you to an abstract.  Full-text is only available to paying subscribers despite the important tradition of "free and open sharing of information" in science.)

* In the January 28 _amednews_ (from the AMA), Tom Savel reviews MerckMedicus, a free online archive of medical information.
(Thanks to LibLicense.)


* In the January 21 _Byte_, Shannon Cochran looks at the price Dmitri Sklyarov had to pay for what might have been legal coding.  "Certainly there will always be individuals capable of shrugging off the technological shackles that the entertainment industry builds for its consumers. But the price they'll be forced to pay is absurdly high."
(Thanks to C-FIT.)

* In the January issue of _Searcher_, Myer Kutz has an excellent, mostly sympathetic history of the recent "scholars' rebellion against scholarly publishing practices".  He traces the story from the serials pricing crisis, the rebellion of librarians, the joining of the rebellion by professors, and the advent of SPARC, PubMed, BioMed Central, Public Library of Science, and TheScientificWorld.  He closes with some assessments of rebel strategies.  He advises that rebels should avoid the mistake of undermining society publishers as if they were equivalent to the commercial publishers.  He expects more success stories from SPARC, and likes the original PLoS open letter than its newer plan to publish its own journals.  He calls on STM publishers moderate their price increases and even moderate their profits.
(Thanks to Walt Crawford.)

* In the January issue of _College & Research Libraries_, there are two FOS-related articles.  Only abstracts are freely available online.
(Thanks to the Scholarly Electronic PUblishing Weblog.)

Philip Davis, "The Effect of the Web on Undergraduate Citation Behavior: A 2000 Update"

Thomas Teper and Beth Kraemer, "Long-term Retention of Electronic Theses and Dissertations"

* _Greenhouse Effects_ is a newsletter on electronic publishing for the audience of publishers.  The January issue reports that Elsevier, Thomson, and Kluwer are taking advantage of the recession to increase their investment in sales and product development, while smaller competitors are forced to decrease theirs.  "The goal: to replace niche competitors by offering one-stop shopping for information services....[Moreover,] in a world where cash is king, these information giants are using their financial resources to make acquisitions.  The drop in valuations has helped them scoop up companies at relatively reasonable prices."

* The December/January issue of _Ariadne_ has several FOS-related articles.  I was too busy this week to read them and write summaries.

David Pearson, "Digitization: do we have a strategy?"

Leslie Chan and Barbara Kirsop, "Open Archiving Opportunities for Developing Countries:  Towards Equitable Distribution of Global Knowledge" (using OAI to distribute texts in developing countries)
(PS:  This is the published version of the essay noted in FOSN for 1/16/02.)

Adam Hodgkin, "Reference books on the Web"

Caroline Thibeaud, "Access to Archives: England’s Contribution to the National Archive Network"

Pete Cliff, "Building ResourceFinder" (using OAI to enhance RDN)

Jenny Rowley, "The JISC User Behaviour Monitoring and Evaluation Framework"

Randy Metcalfe, "My Humbul - Humbul Gets Personal" (see FOSN for 12/19/01)

Paul Browning and Mike Lowndes, "Content Management Systems: Who needs them?"

Paul Miller, "The Concept of the Portal"

* In November, David Isenberg and David Weinberger posted to the web their draft theory to explain why the internet, despite its stupendous attraction and success, is losing infrastructure investment.  They conclude that there is a paradox at work:  the best network for the public happens to be the worst for investors because it's the hardest to operate at a profit.  (PS:  This plausible thesis is not about FOS, but one should ask how far it is transferable to FOS.  FOS is like the internet in this sense:  both are commons.  It may be possible to get people to invest in a commons.  But should we expect profit-seekers to do so?  And if not, does that leave only governments and philanthropists?  Is there a kind of enlightened profit-seeker who sees indirect but tangible benefits in preserving and enlarging a commons?)
(Thanks to Red Rock Eater.)

* In a September 2001 article in _InformationR.net_, Joan Cherry and Wendy Duff report the results of their study of digital library users over time.


Following up

* In the last issue I asked whether the analogy of the internet to a library with its the books scattered on the floor was a commonplace.  Kristin Antelman writes to say that it is.  She had the good idea to run a Google search of early usenet postings, where she found many posters using a quotation from John Alan Paulos in their sigs: "The Internet is the worlds largest library, but the books are scattered all over the floor."  Thanks, Kristin.

* Joseph Burton, the lawyer for Elcomsoft, the employer of Dmitry Sklyarov, filed a brief in court on Monday defending Elcomsoft against the charge that it violated the DMCA.  Burton has three major arguments.  First, the Elcomsoft/Sklyrov software for bypassing copy protection on Adobe ebooks gives ebook purchasers a lawful way to exercise their fair-use rights.  Second, the vagueness of the DMCA gives users no guidance how to exercise their fair-use rights without violating other provisions of the statute.  Finally, the DMCA violates the First Amendment by prohibiting the dissemination of information, in this case, information on how to circumvent copy protection.
(Thanks to GigaLaw.)

FOSN back issues on the Sklyarov/Elcomsoft case


Catching up (old news I should have discovered earlier)

* Don Mabry maintains the Historical Text Archive, which links to books, articles, maps, and photographs on a very wide variety of subjects.  Users can search by keyword or category.  All the texts are free, of course.
(Thanks to the Scout Report.)

* The University of Virginia Library maintains the Thomas Jefferson Digital Archive, which contains full texts by and about Jefferson.
(Thanks to the Scout Report.)



* In FOSN for 1/8/02 I described the launch of GetInfo, a new portal and document delivery service for German science and technology.  In my account I criticized GetInfo for charging access to its preprint archive.  I've since received a response from Benjamin Ahlborn, a spokesman for GetInfo.  "If the author tells us that he wants his document to be free of charge (as many scientists do) GetInfo has no choice but to comply....Also, if an author wants to charge for his documents we supply an e-commerce environment as well as an audience."


GetInfo details on author choice



If you plan to attend one of the following conferences, please share your observations with us through our discussion forum.

* Secure electronic publishing and data protection
London, January 30

* CIMI Institute Forum.  New Developments in Standards for Digital Preservation
Washington, D.C., January 31

* EBLIDA workshop on the national implementation of the EU copyright directive.
London, February 1

* High Quality Information For Everyone And What It Costs
Bielefeld, February 5-7

* International Conference on Bioinformatics 2002:  North-South Network
Bangkok, February 6-8

* E-volving Information futures
Melbourne, February 6-8

* Kongress für digitale Inhalte
Wiesbaden, February 7-8

* Book Tech 2002
New York, February 11-13

* "Will Free Expression Survive the Digital Media Revolution?"  (A public panel discussion by EFF attorneys.)
Berkeley, February 12

* Society for Scholarly Publishing, Top Management Roundtable.  Successful Publishing in the Global Environment.
Washington, D.C., February 13-14

* ICSTI Seminar on Digital Preservation of the Record of Science
Paris, February 14-15

* Conference on Intelligent Text Processing and Computational Linguistics
Mexico City, February 17-23

* Wissensmanagement im universitären Bereich
February 19-20

* Symposium on Foundations of Information and Knowledge Systems
Schloß Salzau, February 19-23

* Fifth International Publishers Association Copyright Conference
Accra, 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 opinion
London, February 25

* Electronic Journals --Solutions in Sight?
London, February 25-26

* [Public lecture], Will Thomas and Ed Ayers, "The Next Generation of Digital Scholarship:  An Experiment in Form
Washington, D.C., February 27

* A Symposium on the Research Value of Printed Materials in the Digital Age
College Park, Maryland, March 1

* International Spring School on the Digital Library and E-publishing for Science and Technology
Geneva, March 3-8

* Search Engine Strategies
Boston, March 4-5

* Towards an Information Society for All
Berlin, March 8-9

* 17th ACM Symposium on Applied Computing.  Special tracks on Database and Digital Library Technologies; Electronic Books for Teaching and Learning; and Information Access and Retrieval
Madrid, March 10-14

* Digitization for Cultural Heritage Professionals:  An Intensive Program
Chapel Hill, North Carolina, March 10-15

* EUSDIC Spring Meeting.  E-Content:  Divide or Rule
Paris, March 11-12

* Knowledge Technologies Conference 2002
Seattle, March 11-13

* Computers in Libraries 2002
Washington D.C., March 13-15

* International Conference on the Statistical Analysis of Textual Data
St. 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

* Digital Resources and International Information Exchange:  East-West
March 15 (Washington DC), 18 (Flushing NY), 20 (Stamford CT)

* Internet Librarian International 2002
London, March 18-20

* The New Information Order and the Future of the Archive
Edinburgh, March 20-23

* Institute of Mueum and Library Services.  Building Digital Communities
Baltimore, March 20-22

* Advanced Licensing Workshop
Dallas, March 20-22

* Electronic Publishing Strategy
London, March 22

* OCLC Institute. Steering by Standards.  (A series of satellite videoconferences.)
Cyberspace.  OAI, March 26.  OAIS, April 19.  Metadata standards in the future, May 29.

* WebSearch University
San Francisco, March 25-26; Stamford CT, April 30 - May 1; Washington DC, September 23-24; Chicago, Octeober 22-23; Dallas, November 19-20.

* European Colloquium on Information Retrieval Research
Glasgow, March 25-27

* e-Content:  Discovering and Delivering Value
Toronto, March 25-27

* New Developments in Digital Libraries
Ciudad Real, Spain, April 2-3

* The New Information Order and the Future of the Archive
Edinburgh, March 20-23

* Copyright Management in Higher Education:  Ownership, Access and Control
Adelphi, Maryland, April 4-5

* International Conference on Information Technology: Coding and Computing
Las Vegas, April 8-10

* NetLab and Friends:  10 Years of Digital Library Development
Lund, April 10-12

* E-Content 2002 (on ebooks)
London, April 11

* International Learned Journals Seminar:  We Can't Go On Like This:  The Future of Journals
London, April 12

* SIAM International Conference on Data Mining
Arlington, Virginia, April 11-13

* Creating access to information:  EBLIDA workshop on getting a better deal from your information licences
The Hague, April 12

* United Kingdom Serials Group Annual Conference and Exhibition
University of Warwick, April 15- 17

* EDUCAUSE Networking 2002
Washington, D.C., April 17-18

* Museums and the Web 2002
Boston, April 17-20

* Information, Knowledges and Society: Challenges of A New Era
Havana, 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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Peter Suber

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