April 24, 2001


Eric Eldred maintains a web site containing full-text books in the public domain.  The Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998 retroactively added 20 years to the life of a copyright (now 95 years).  To Eldred, this act is bad for scholarship and education by keeping important books out of the public domain too long.  He sued Janet Reno to prevent the enforcement of the act, but in October 1999 he lost in federal District Dourt, and in February 2000 he lost in the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.  The April 9 issue of the _Chronicle of Higher Education_ reports on the issues raised by Eldred's lawsuit. 

With the new administration in office, Eldred and his lawyers are petitioning the Circuit Court for a rehearing.  Details on the legal strategy are publicly discussed at OpenLaw, a site which tries to do for legal arguments what open source does for software.  OpenLaw is hosted by the Berkman Center for Internet and Society of Harvard Law School, and one of its major players is Lawrence Lessig, who argued for Eldred in the D.C. Circuit Court. 

The _Chronicle_ story on Eldred v. Reno

Eldred's page of full-text books

Eldred's "Support Online Books" page
(Contains links to further discussion.)

OpenLaw page on Eldred v. Reno (now Eldred v. Ashcroft)


In previous installments, I described the Public Library of Science and its call to boycott journals which didn't put their content online free of charge within six months of publication.  The movement started with a letter to the editor of _Science Magazine_ and subsequent electronic discussion there.  The debate next moved to the journal _Nature_. 

Now the April 23 issue of _Scientific American_ contains a sympathetic article by Julia Karow.  Among other things, she reports that some European mathematics journals have divorced their commercial publishers, and found that the costs of publishing their journals can be borne by their home institutions --even, apparently, when these are print rather than online journals.  Major for-profit scientific journal publishers refused to be interviewed for her article. 

The Public Library of Science

The discussion in Science

The discussion in Nature

Julia Karow's article in the new Scientific American
(Thanks to Tony Beavers for bringing this to my attention.)


I've started looking for a service to host this email list.  The list is not large yet, but it would do better outside my Eudora address book in a service which will let me scale up.  I'm not having trouble finding a host; there are many good ones which charge nothing for lists this small.  The problem is that I'd prefer a service which also hosts threaded discussion forums associated with the email lists.  If possible, I'd like forums with searchable archives, the option to sort by date or thread, and support for email notification of new posts.  Unfortunately the only service I know which meets all these criteria is Yahoo Groups.  I'd go with Yahoo, but when it bought the eGroup discussion software, Yahoo made a beautiful program ugly.  Moreover, some other Yahoo yahoo already has the group name "FOS". 

This is more than you wanted to know about my software explorations.  But if you can suggest any non-Yahoo software which meets my needs, or comes close, I'd like to hear about it.  If you think there is no need to supplement this sporadic newsletter with threaded discussion, let me know that too.


This is the Free Online Scholarship mailing list.  To remove yourself, just drop me a line. For the time being, the list is private; but if you know others who would like to subscribe, have them drop me a line.

Peter Suber

Copyright (c) 2001

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