Welcome to the SPARC Open Access Newsletter, issue #89
September 2, 2005

Read this issue online

Jan Velterop moves to Springer

On August 16, Jan Velterop became the Director of Open Access at Springer.  Jan is the former publisher of BioMed Central, the first and largest open-access publisher.  Springer is the second-largest publisher of science journals (after Elsevier).  Springer is green on self-archiving (preprints and postprints) and last summer launched its Open Choice program, a version of the author-choice or Walker-Prosser model, for all its journals. 

I'm lukewarm about the Springer Open Choice program.  For example, see my review of it in SOAN for 8/2/04.

In fact, I've criticized the Open Choice program more than once for deliberately making the offer unattractive authors in order to engineer a low uptake and justify the retort that authors don't really want OA.  Open Choice hasn't changed since I made those charges, but Springer has.  I'm now prepared to say that the best sign of Springer's good faith is that it hired Jan Velterop.

Springer wouldn't hire Jan if it didn't want to do more for OA than it's already doing.  Jan wouldn't take the job if he didn't think he could use it advance OA.  Friends of OA who worry that Jan has sold out don't know Jan or his track record.  As Jan remarked, "I'm not going to the dark side.  Parts of the dark side, including Springer, are seeing the light."  (Quoted in The Guardian for August 17; see below.)

I believe that Springer is just the first of the large commercial publishers to see that it makes good sense to do more for OA, perhaps even to plan for a transition to OA.  The NIH policy in the US, the impending RCUK policy in the UK, the many important signatories to the Berlin Declaration throughout Europe, and the spread of OA journals and archiving throughout the world send an unmistakable signal.  Support for OA by major institutions is irreversible and growing rapidly.  It's not just a threat to the old business model; it's an opportunity for new business.  Springer wants to explore these opportunities, which is smart.  Other publishers have the same reasons to act and now they have one more:  to keep up with Springer.

I asked Jan to comment on what he hoped to accomplish at Springer and why his move was good news for the future of OA.  Here's how he replied:

Springer has made a serious commitment to make publishing with open access a service that the company offers to all its authors, funders and the academic world in general, for all its journals. As Director  Open Access -- a newly created position -- it will be among my tasks  to lead the discussion in the company aimed at refining and  developing policies and procedures that make the Open Choice offering second to none and to promote its uptake widely. Springer will give authors the option, but will not impose open access on them, as that is deemed not to be the task of the publisher. Giving the opportunity to those who want to publish with open access is. The Open Choice option is there for all authors in all Springer journals, expanding the choice of journals for open access authors to consider by more than 1200 established titles. That's why it is extremely good news for open access.

Springer press release, August 16, 2005.
https://mx2.arl.org/Lists/SPARC-OAForum/Message/2196.html http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/2005_08_14_fosblogarchive.html#a112420924153194492
German edition of the press release, with a photo.

Springer's Open Choice program.

Springer's self-archiving policy.

Here are some news stories on the appointment.

Velterop to Lead Springer’s Open Access Effort, Library Journal, August 26, 2005.

Mark Chillingworth, Velterop in surprise move to Springer, Information World Review, August 17, 2005.

Richard Wray, Springer hires open access pioneer, The Guardian, August 17, 2005. http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/story/0,3604,1550334,00.html http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/2005_08_14_fosblogarchive.html#a112424527688251834

* Postscript.  You can tell that I don't accept the view that Jan has sold out.  But how optimistic should we be about what he can accomplish?  I don't know yet.  While we're waiting for the signs, the best case for pessimism I've seen is by Dorothea Salo, author of the Caveat Lector blog.  Here's an excerpt from her blog posting for August 16:

Let me be clear. I wish only for good things to come of this. I've no grudge against Mr. Velterop; quite the contrary, in fact. I've read his stuff. It's excellent. (Did you guys see the cogent argument for small-society publishers to go OA? Eminently readable....) But, honestly? I don't see this lasting, for the same reasons Bruce Perens didn't last at Hewlett-Packard. Corporations think it's a wizard PR move to hire "the opposition" to run --well, something that the corporation has been steadily opposing. I've never, ever seen this end well. At some point, the new spokesmodel says something that's just Beyond the Pale, or gets fed up with the corporation being all smiles and no action, and everyone parts brass rags.  I'd like to be wrong about this. I'd love to be wrong. I don't think I'm wrong.

* PPS.  On August 25, Springer also announced that Eric Merkel-Sobotta is  moving to Springer as Executive Vice President for Corporate Communications.  Merkel-Sobotta was formerly the Director for Corporate Relations at the science and medical division of Reed Elsevier. 


An Elsevier journal experiments with free online access

On August 12, Albert R. Meyer, Editor-in-Chief of the Elsevier journal, Information and Computation (I&C), posted this announcement to the journal web site:

The Editorial Board and Publisher of Information and Computation are pleased to announce that for one year, effective immediately, online access to all journal issues back to 1995 will be available without charge. This includes unrestricted downloading of articles in pdf format. Retrieval traffic during the open access period will be considered as future subscription policies are formulated. Journal articles may be obtained on Elsevier's Sciencedirect at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/08905401

(On August 15, "online access" became "electronic access" and "unrestricted downloading" became "downloading...for individual use".  The second change is the only significant one, and was designed to block bulk downloads.)

Non-OA journals will sometimes offer free online access for a week or a month in order to introduce non-subscribers to the journal.  But the experiment at I&C is not a marketing tactic.  The I&C is trying to learn whether its price barrier has denied access to readers who would like access.  By monitoring traffic during the year of free online access, it hopes to gather the data it needs to measure that. 

An essential part of the background is that in the past Elsevier has supported OA archiving but has not supported OA journals.  On the contrary, its attitude toward OA journals could be described as hostile.  I&C is not an OA journal, this experiment does not make it one, and there's no sign that it may become one.  Nevertheless this is an experiment that takes Elsevier well beyond its past support for OA archiving.

To understand the thinking behind the experiment, I sent some questions to Albert Meyer, the editor in chief, and Chris Leonard, the Elsevier editor.  I thank them both for their replies.  Meyer would like to make clear that he speaks only for himself, not for Elsevier.

Albert Meyer is the Hitachi America Professor of Engineering at the MIT Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

Chris Leonard is an Elsevier Publishing Editor with responsibility for theoretical computer science journals.  He's also the author of the blog, Computing Chris.

PS:  Who first proposed the I&C experiment?

AM:  The Elsevier editor Arjen Sevenster in Oct 2004.

CL:  The idea originated from Elsevier after fruitful discussions with the board about the journal's availability to the community. The I&C usage study is part of a range of research programs Elsevier undertakes on a regular basis to understand and address the changing needs of our customers, the scholarly community, and other stakeholders.

PS:  Why did Elsevier approve it?  Did the idea undergo significant changes between proposal and adoption?

AM:  Elsevier spontaneously came up with this imaginative response to concerns expressed by Editorial Board members about the limiting effects subscription access might be having on circulation and citation of articles.  Elsevier pointed out that there were 14500 downloads of I&C articles through ScienceDirect in the prior year.  Some Board members suggested that this number would increase significantly under open access. The experiment should help us get a quantitative grip on this question.

The delay between proposal and implementation was caused in part by concern by several Editorial Board members about Google access to the articles in ScienceDirect.  Elsevier had not been allowing Google to index ScienceDirect, and there was some question about whether OA without Google listing would be an informative experiment.  I was told that Elsevier's reluctance about Google involved some technical problems about how to let Google search titles in ScienceDirect without inadvertently also making the full articles openly available.

I think that, in addition, Elsevier initially hoped that keeping out Google would encourage usage of Elsevier's competing scholarly search engine, Scirus.  But everyone would obviously be better off with Elsevier articles widely available to ALL search engines, and this view is under consideration by Elsevier.

PS:  Is Elsevier is considering similar experiments with other journals, including journals outside computer science?

CL:  Although we often conduct usage studies to better understand how our journals are read and used, this is our first large-scale usage study of this nature.  We also participate in other initiatives which reinforce sustainable universal access to peer-reviewed scientific and medical research. Some examples are Cell Press journals, which have been freely available since January 2005 with a 12 month embargo, our "walk-up" policy which enables members of the general public to access our archive at any subscribing library. In terms of access in developing countries, we are also a founding publisher of HINARI and AGORA, UN-based initiatives providing free or low cost access to health, agriculture and related fields of information to public institutions in developing countries. Elsevier is also a key participant in the newly launched patientINFORM, a public health literacy and access project of the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, American Diabetes Association and STM publishers which provides patients with free access to the most up-to-date and critical research available about disease diagnosis and treatment.

PS:  How will I&C pay the bills during the year-long experiment?  I saw nothing at the journal site about charging author-side processing fees, for example, as PLoS and BMC do.

AM:  There really are no additional costs.  This is because all paid subscriptions to I&C are, as far as I know, bundled subscriptions.  The fact that electronic access to one among the many journals in a bundle is openly available can't really have an effect on the bundle price.

CL:  This is a usage study to better determine the 'reach' of I&C within the community it serves. We are providing uncharged access to I&C for a year to determine traffic patterns, usage behaviour and subscribed vs. non-subscribed usage.

PS:  It seems, then, that this experiment cannot help determine whether author-side fees could suffice to pay I&C's bills, or how large such fees would have to be.  So what *do* the editors and Elsevier expect to learn from the experiment?

AM:  The aim is to estimate the extent to which subscriptions fees inhibit dissemination of journal articles.

The I&C Board is also concerned with subscription cost, and there is widespread feeling, which I share, that Elsevier has been making unduly large profits from the academic community.  On other hand, I think naming Elsevier a "monopolistic exploiter" of academia, as some of my normally sober colleagues have done, is an unbalanced view.

I'm personally optimistic that the market forces already at work will moderate this issue.  Elsevier has certainly been extremely cautious about raising subscription fees for the past couple of years, and in the case of I&C is offering a newly reduced (but in my opinion still inappropriately high) fee for individual online subscriptions to I&C.

CL:  We hope to learn whether or not there is a large group of people in the research community who want to access I&C on ScienceDirect, but who currently, for various reasons cannot. I&C is at the heart of Elsevier's customer research service program which uses focus groups, in depth interviews, market surveys and studies to determine how best to respond to our customers' changing needs. 

PS:  Are there any plans for I&C to experiment --down the road-- with OA business models and not just OA access models? 

AM:  I quote from Sevenster's statement to the I&C Ed Board in Oct. 2004:  "We are working on new pricing models. Such models are complex and need to satisfy several constituencies, not least our existing customers who expect the initial outcomes of new models to be broadly similar to their existing situation. However we are working hard on this and hope to be able to inform our Editors and Editorial Boards about a new approach in due course. Please regard the experiment below as an interim response to your concerns, which is specific to I&C."

CL:  I am not aware of any plans Elsevier has to experiment with author pays business models.

PS:  If Elsevier is primarily interested in the traffic, usage, and download figures from the coming year, then how will it interpret them in light of the many OA copies elsewhere on the web, such as conference sites, disciplinary repositories, institutional repositories, and personal home pages?  Is it possible that Elsevier approved the experiment, in part, because many or most I&C papers are already OA in some version somewhere online?

AM:  I don't think we have at present a quantitative grip on the extent of OA for articles from any Computer Science journals (and probably from other fields as well).

Anyway, Elsevier's current policy is to allow unfettered posting of OA copies by authors (as long as authors prominently cite to the 'official' journal version in their OA version).  At the same time, Elsevier clearly intends to derive continued subscription income from ScienceDirect subscriptions.  So I do not think prior OA by authors was a much of a factor one way or the other in initiating the I&C OA experiment.  But you should ask them.

CL:  We are primarily interested in how many people choose to access the official copy of the article on ScienceDirect which is available to more than 10 million scientists worldwide, providing access to over 6 million articles, 60 million abstracts and 2,000 Elsevier journals. 

PS:  Since June 2004, Elsevier's policy on self-archiving has allowed authors to archive their peer-reviewed manuscripts but not the published PDFs.  During the next year, will I&C authors be allowed to archive the published PDFs?

CL:  There is no change to the original policy.

PS:  What will it take to persuade Elsevier and the I&C editors to extend the experiment beyond one year or to make I&C an OA journal permanently?

AM:  I don't know.  All parties were content to leave this issue unaddressed till the outcome of the experiment is available.

CL:  We're really looking to better understand what demand there is for the I&C journal articles from people who currently do not have access to them. As with any audience usage study, we would rather not predict how this may affect future access, but first gather the data and then decide.

[End of interview]

* In two August postings to LibLicense, Elsevier's Tony McSean elaborated on Elsevier's self-archiving policy.  "[T]his experiment [at I&C] does not signify a change in our policy that Elsevier authors may post their full and final text of an article, but not the PDF copy available via ScienceDirect." 

* In response to a blog posting at Ernie's 3D Pancakes, Chris Leonard explained why the experiment only applies to issues back to 1995 when I&C has digital issues online back to 1987.  "Pre-1995 material was not previously available electronically and we recently spent quite a lot of money in getting these scanned, OCR-ed and coupled with XML files. The backfiles - as they are known - are available for a one-off fee, which is very reasonable by any standards, especially given the volume of material. This pre-1995 material is therefore a bit of sacred cow within the company. There are no plans to open this material up, even for promotions or our usage experiment."

* There are free online copies of I&C articles all over the web, as there are for nearly every journal. 

Here's the DoCIS list of free online copies of articles published in I&C,
...and here's the list for Information and Control, the earlier name of I&C,
(For the very useful DoCIS service, thanks to Angela Cornwell and Thomas Krichel.)

Elsevier may want to count only the visitors to the ScienceDirect copies of I&C articles, as Chris Leonard said in the interview.  But it will have to interpret the ScienceDirect traffic in light of the very large number of free copies available elsewhere.

For the year of the experiment, it would make sense for scholars in computer science to visit the ScienceDirect copies, rather than other free online copies, in order to register the true demand for I&C articles.  Because that will be impossible to coordinate, however, everyone will just have to remember that the ScienceDirect traffic numbers will only measure ScienceDirect traffic.  As measures of true demand, they will be low by an undetermined amount. 

* Information and Computation, home page at MIT

Information and Computation, home page at Elsevier

Information and Computation, editorial board

Elsevier self-archiving policy

* Postscript.  Brian Gray blogged two good questions on August 17:  "While I am happy to see this initiative, I question their application of this experiment. So far, a few days into the test, it has only been testing "the word of mouth" of the scientific library community. I have not seen any official announcements from Elsevier.  In addition, just because someone currently has paid access, does that mean they do not want open access to publications?" 

His second question is explicit.  If I were to make the first one explicit, I'd put it this way.  Elsevier has announced the experiment on the I&C home page at MIT but not on the I&C home page at ScienceDirect or through a press release.  Will it measure the demand for the barrier-free version of its journal without widely publicizing the fact that it is barrier-free?  Regardless of the answer, I'm glad to publicize the experiment here and we should all spread the word to colleagues who do research in the I&C niche.


Reflections on 9/11, four years later

One of the strongest endorsements of open access during the past year came from a panel of the National Research Council (NRC), a branch of the U.S. National Academies. 

The NRC panel asked whether the undeniable benefits of open access to genome data on pathogens outweighed the undeniable risks of misuse by terrorists.  It concluded that they did, and explained its reasons in a book-length report issued last September.

Here's a summary from the press release announcing the report:

Current policies that allow scientists and the public unrestricted access to genome data on microbial pathogens should not be changed, says a new report from the National Academies' National Research Council, which concludes that security against bioterrorism is better served by policies that facilitate, not limit, the free flow of this information. While individuals or nations trying to develop bioweapons may be able to obtain data on pathogens, any restrictions tight enough to impede their access would probably also hinder efforts to develop vaccines and other countermeasures to bioterrorism, as well as other valuable scientific research....'Open access is essential if we are to maintain the progress needed to stay ahead of those who would attempt to cause harm,' said Stanley Falkow, chair of the committee that wrote the report, and professor of microbiology and immunology, Stanford University, Stanford, Calif. 'The current vitality of the life sciences depends on a free flow of data and ideas, which is necessary if science is to deliver new biodefense capabilities and improve our ability to fight infectious disease.'

The conclusion was based on three major arguments.  OA to genome data not only helps fight disease, but would help fight diseases introduced by bioterrorism.  If all data that might help terrorists were suppressed, the hit would be immense and science would be impossible.  Even if we wanted to prohibit the public release of some genome data (facts about nature), the prohibition is unlikely to be effective.

The NRC panel is not just saying that OA to genome data on pathogens is better than its suppression and better than toll access to the same data.  It's saying that the benefits of OA are worth the risk of smallpox, anthrax, and Ebola hemorrhagic fever --three pathogens whose genome sequences were already OA at the time the report was published.  Compare that to the claim, regarded as radical in some quarters, that the benefits of OA are worth the risk of decreased journal subscriptions.  The panel's endorsement could hardly be stronger.

I'm especially struck by the argument that OA to pathogen genome data doesn't merely offset a great harm with a great good, but directly helps combat the harm.  In digging around the history of OA policy in the U.S., I found a letter from Condoleezza Rice in 2001 sounding the same theme in a broader context.  At the time she was Assistant to President Bush for National Security Affairs.  Today, of course, she is Bush's Secretary of State.  Rice wrote:  "The key to maintaining U.S. technological preeminence is to encourage open and collaborative basic research. The linkage between the free exchange of ideas and scientific innovation, prosperity, and U.S. national security is undeniable. This linkage is especially true as our armed forces depend less and less on internal research and development for the innovations they need to maintain the military superiority of the United States."

Terrorism is the last tactic of the powerless against the powerful.  It's not likely to disappear any time soon, any more than the explosives and other weapons that make it so destructive.  If so, we cannot say that we are safe; we can only say that we are safe for now.  Terrorism has two peculiar properties that aggravate its long-term consequences.  Fear of terrorism is based as much on the risk as on the reality, and we can never know when the risk of terrorism has ceased to exist.  The risk may always exist; or if it ceases, we won't know that it has ceased; or opportunistic politicians will always be able to score points by claiming that it exists. 

Hence, everything endangered by the fear of terrorism may be permanently endangered.  That's why the NRC report is so important.  To protect free inquiry from real threats and demogoguery about unreal threats, we can't wait for the risk of terrorism to drop to zero.  We have to weigh risk against benefit and move on. 

The perceived risk of terrorism may not decrease any time soon.  But the NRC report shows that the perceived benefit of OA is increasing sharply.  We may always have to make difficult balancing decisions in an unsafe world.  But we are less likely now than in the past to believe that the value of OA is outweighed by the abstract risk of abuse. 

I used to accept the maxim that to work for peace, we should work for justice.  But the inadequacy of that maxim, at least in the face of terrorism, is becoming clear.  Suicide bombers who indiscriminately kill non-combatants are not interested in justice.  Religious and political zealots are not interested in justice if justice requires coexistence with infidels and dissenters.  They are even less interested if justice requires toleration, and even less if it requires equality.

Violent ideologies may be intractable to reason, but they are not intractable to history.  Each one arose from some complex of circumstances and each one will mutate and disappear under another complex of circumstances.  We may not know what these circumstances are.  Hence, we may not be able to explain the origin of particular ideologies or to predict or engineer their downfall.  But despite our grounds for permanent concern, we needn't call violent ideologies truly permanent.  Two related points still stand, however.  First, if violent ideologies seem to disappear, then that might only be a temporary lull.  Second, if they seem to stabilize and persist, then that might only be a temporary pathology.

Either way, however, fear can be real, and real fear can raise powerful objections to free inquiry and accessible knowledge.  We cannot show that the fear is groundless, even when it is groundless --and for now, at least, in too many regions of the planet, it has its grounds.  But there is another way out. 

What's striking about the NRC report is not its low estimate of the risk of bioterrorism but its high estimate of the value of accessible knowledge.  The NRC conclusion is not based on wishful thinking or political calculation, but on observation, evidence, and reasoning.  The NRC defends knowledge with knowledge.  Until knowledge has an even more marginal place in public policy than it has today, this is the most powerful way to defend access and sharing in an age of fear. 

The NRC report:  Seeking Security:  Pathogens, Open Access, and Genome Databases, September 8, 2004.

National Academies press release on the pathogens report, September 9, 2004.

National Research Council

Here are some news stories on the report.

Emily Singer, Scientists stumped by dual push for open access, secrecy, News@Nature, September 28, 2004.

Keep genome data freely accessible, The Lancet, September 25, 2004. An unsigned and OA editorial endorsing the report's conclusions.

David Malakoff, Report Upholds Public Access to Genetic Codes, Science Magazine, September 17, 2004.

U.S. State Department, U.S. Report Supports Unrestricted Access to Pathogen Genomes, September 10, 2004.

Kate Ruder, Information on Pathogens Should Flow Freely, Report Says, Genome News Network, September 10, 2004.

Eugene Russo, NRC wants genome data unfetteredNothing to be gained from restricting access to bioterror agent genomes, says report, The Scientist, September 10, 2004.

Study:  Germ data should be shared, Associated Press, September 10, 2004.

Maggie Fox, Hiding Genome Data Won't Protect Us, Experts Say, Reuters, Sept. 9. 2004. 

Randolph Schmid, Panel urges sharing of data on germs, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, September 9, 2004.  Excerpt:  "Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge disagreed with the findings, saying that he does not think making such information openly available is a good idea."

* Postscript.  Here are some earlier installments in this series.  I didn't write one in 2003.

Reflections on 9/11 (2001)

Reflections on 9/11, one year later (2002)

Reflections on 9/11, three years later (2004)


Update on first fruits of NIH policy

In the last issue, I described how PubMed Central was enhancing the author manuscripts before making them available online.

But I left out a few of the ways. 

I said that PMC links to the publisher's own online copy, but I didn't say that the PMC edition indicates whether the publisher version is free or priced.  Here's an example of an article in PMC that's also free at the publisher's site (look just above the abstract):

PMC tries to link to the publisher's online edition, but can only do so for publishers who participate in the LinkOut program.  Here's an example of an article without a link to the publisher's edition:

If the author has published a correction, then PMC adds an erratum notice to the original.  Here's an example (again, look just above the abstract):

PMC adds a link from the PubMed abstract to the PMC full-text.  Here's an example:

Two of the articles I listed last month have been withdrawn from PMC at the authors' request.

NIH is now posting online statistics on submissions under the public-access policy. For each day in May, June, and July, you can now see (1) the total number of manuscripts submitted under the policy, (2) the number of grantees submitting manuscripts, and (3) the number of unpublished manuscripts submitted.

BTW, as of September 2, there were 49 author manuscripts free online at PMC.


Top stories from August 2005

This is a selection of open-access developments since the last issue of the newsletter, taken from the Open Access News blog, which I write with other contributors and update daily.  I give both the item URL and blog posting URL so that you can read the original story as well as what I or another blog contributor had to say about it.  For other developments, the blog archive is browseable and searchable.

Here are the top stories from August:

* The draft RCUK policy generates news and comment.
* India's Knowledge Commission will address access issues.
* Google Library suspends scans of copyrighted books until November.
* A JISC-SURF report studies scholar attitudes toward copyright.

* The draft RCUK policy generates news and comment.

Wednesday, August 31, was the deadline for comments on the draft RCUK open-access policy.  The big news in the first part of the month was the ALPSP letter (at first OA and then withdrawn behind a password) arguing that the policy would kill journals, especially society journals.  A group of UK scientists led by Tim Berners-Lee and Stevan Harnad answered the ALPSP arguments point by point in a public letter.  Both the ALPSP letter and the public rebuttal attracted press attention.  Toward the end of the month, individuals and organizations began to post their comments to the RCUK online, a process that should continue for the next couple of weeks.  Sometime soon the RCUK will announce the final version of its policy, which will be very big news.

The RCUK draft open-access policy

Here are the major documents from August, in reverse chronological order.

The Open Access Working Group has publicly released its August 23 comment on the draft RCUK policy.

The Working Group on Scientific Information for the World Summit on the Information Society publicly released its comment on the draft RCUK policy, August 31.

The International Association of Scientific, Technical & Medical Publishers (STM) wrote a critical comment on the draft RCUK policy. The comment is not online, but Stevan Harnad quoted its major arguments and offered a point by point rebuttal on his blog (August 31). Stevan also issued a version of the rebuttal as an open letter to Ian Diamond, Chair of the RCUK Executive Group.

Anon., Critiques and rebuttals continue in UK open access debate, CORDIS News, August 31, 2005.

Clive Cookson, Scientists reignite open access debate, Financial Times, August 31, 2005.

Mark Chillingworth, ALPSP and academics fight it out over Research Councils UK IR rules, Information World Review, August 30, 2005.

Heather Morrison, Open Letter on RCUK Position Statement on Access to Research Outputs, Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics, August 29, 2005.

Donald MacLeod, Publishers make last stand against open access, The Guardian, August 30, 2005.

Richard Wray, Publish university science for free, urges web creator, The Guardian, August 30, 2005.

On August 22, eight UK friends of OA wrote an Open Letter to Research Councils UK supporting the draft RCUK open-access policy and directly rebutting the arguments in the August 5 ALPSP critique of the policy.
--A longer version of the letter is signed by some non-UK friends of OA, including myself.

On August 5, the ALPSP publicly released a critique of the draft RCUK policy.  Soon afterwards it put it behind a password.  There's an excerpt in my blog posting and many key quotations in the August 22 rebuttal by Harnad, Berners-Lee, et al.

* India's Knowledge Commission will address access issues.

India appointed a Knowledge Commission in June.  In August, its chairman Sam Pitroda made clear that he believes improved access to knowledge will be critical to education and prosperity in India.  The eight-member commission will submit its first set of recommendations in October.  India is already seeing a flurry of activity in launching OA repositories and OA journals.  Let's hope that the Knowledge Commission will recognize and support these efforts, and consider systematic extensions of them by recommending funds for repositories at every research institution, policies to fill them, and an OA condition on publicly-funded research.

Amrita Nandy-Joshi, 'Knowledge and more knowledge', says, telecom czar, Sam Pitroda, TerraGreen, August 15, 2005.

Anon., Pitroda pushes e-portals, education revamp, The Indian Express, August 6, 2005.

Anon., Access to knowledge imperative for prosperity: Pitroda, The Hindu, August 5, 2005.

Anon., Knowledge panel to synergise people’s perspectives, Financial Express, August 4, 2005.

Here's more OA-related news and comment from India in August.

At an August session of the General Body Meeting of the Indian National Commission for Cooperation with UNESCO, the Indian government declined UNESCO assistance designed for the least developed countries.  At the same time, "Secretary for Secondary and Higher Education, Shri Sudeep Bannerjee appealed for need to strengthen the Right to Access to Knowledge. He lamented that the emphasis on intellectual property is encroaching upon the Right to Access to Knowledge."  Details are in an August 30 press release from the Indian government.

Harish Chandra, Open Access to Knowledge Resources in Science and Technology: The Role of Digital Reference Service to Facilitate Accessing Scholarly Information, in Sashikala C. Rao (ed.), Proceedings 23rd Annual Convention and Conference (SIS2005) Delivery of Information Services Through Distributed Digital Environment, Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh (India), pp. 593-602.

In India's Frontline magazine for August 13, V. Sridhar interviews with David Magier, the Director of Area Studies at the Columbia University Libraries.  Magier describes some OA initiatives hosted in India and funded by libraries elsewhere.

N.V. Joshi, Institutional E-print Archives: Liberalizing Access to Scientific Research, Current Science (Bangalore), August 10, 2005. An editorial.

B. Gitanjali, ICMJE statement on compulsory clinical trial registration: Should Indian journals follow suit? Indian Journal of Pharmacology, 37, 4 (2005). An editorial.

Shankar Iyer, Tearing down those knowledge walls, The Financial Express, July 31, 2005.

* Google Library suspends scans of copyrighted books until November.

On August 11, Google announced a temporary suspension of its program to scan copyrighted books under its Library program.  (It will continue to scan copyrighted books with publisher consent under its Publisher program.)  The suspension will last at least until November 1.  During the moratorium, Google offered publishers a way to opt-out of the library scanning project, but publishers objected that this reverses the burden normally required by copyright law.  Four major organizations representing authors and publishers have now lined up against the resumption of Google's project:  The Association of American Publishers (AAP), the American Association of University Presses (AAUP), the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers (ALPSP), and the Text and Academic Authors Association (TAA).  At the same time, Google and many independent observers argue that the project is lawful under US copyright law, as fair use, and would increase book sales for the publishers.

My call:  Google is right that the project would increase book sales.  The fair-use question is less clear-cut; there are good arguments on both sides, and if the question goes to court the outcome will be difficult to predict.  Publishers have not been able to point to an injury, merely to an abstract and debatable violation of their property rights.  But the abstract property right gives the publishers a basis to threaten lawsuits.  Google risks huge losses in lawsuits for copyright infringement, just as the publishers risk missing huge opportunities for increased sales.  Both Google and the publishers could lose big-time if the project stops.  By threatening lawsuits, the publishers seem more interested in getting a piece of Google's advertising income than in stopping a project that would be lucrative for them.  In short, we're watching a shake-down.

On August 30, Google launched a series of nation-specific databases of searchable digital books.  Most searchers don't want literature from just one country, and Google must know this.  But it was forced to this by copyright laws, which differ from country to country.

On September 1, Google invited European publishers to participate in the Google Print for Publishers program.  Some reporters are spinning this as Google's response to French and wider European criticism of the Anglo-American focus of the Google Print program to date.  But it was clear from the beginning that Google would eventually expand its Publisher program to scan the books of every consenting publisher.

Michael Liedtke, Google opens book project to Europe, Associated Press, September 2, 2005.

Susan Kuchinskas, Google Extends Book Scanning Operation, InternetNews.com, August 31, 2005.

Timothy Lee, Google Print and Copyright Law, Heartland Institute, September 2005.  An argument that Google's book-scanning is fair use.

Graeme Philipson, Copyright cop-out stifles innovation, SMH.com.au, August 30, 2005.

Barbara Quint, Corrections: Google Print Not All I Said It Was, Information Today NewsBreaks, August 29, 2005.

The ALPSP has written a second position statement on Google Print for Libraries (August 25). Its first one was released on July 11.

Chris Nolan, Book Publishers Can't Buck the Web, eWeek, August 18, 2005.

Anon., Coming to a computer near you, Washington Times, August 19, 2005. An unsigned editorial.

The University of Michigan created an FAQ on its book-scanning partnership with Google.  Among other things, the FAQ takes the unqualified position that Google scanning does not violate copyright.

Anon., Cocky with copyright, Financial Times, August 17, 2005. An unsigned editorial.

The book on Google, Los Angeles Times, August 17, 2005.  An unsigned editorial.

China Martens, Google provides opt-out for publishers, Digit Magazine, August 15, 2005.

Doug Lederman, Google’s Small Nod to Publishers, Inside Higher Ed News, August 15, 2005.

Barbara Quint, Google Slows Library Project to Accommodate Publishers, Information Today Newsbreaks, August 15, 2005.

Anon., Google to Library: Shush!, Red Herring, August 14, 2005.

Yuki Noguchi, Google Delays Book Scanning, Washington Post, August 13, 2005.

Michael Liedtke, Google Halts Scanning of Copyrighted Books, Associated Press (this copy in the San Francisco Chronicle), August 13, 2005.

A Slashdot thread on the Google action started on August 12.

On Copyright (August 12), Aaron Swartz criticized Google for suspending the scanning of copyrighted books,
...and Siva Vaidhyanathan defended it,

Margaret Kane, Google pauses library project, New.com, August 12, 2005.

John Batelle, Unbooked, August 12, 2005.
("All I can say is - let's work this out, folks. This ain't Napster. I know the book industry has issues with this, and they are significant, but man, they are completely shooting themselves in the foot if they don't figure out how to leverage Google and search in general to sell down the long tail. Sheesh.")

Ed Oswald, Google puts library project on hold, Beta News, August 12, 2005.

Andrew Orlowski, Google Print put on pause, The  Register, August 12, 2005.

Chris Noon, Schmidt's Google Puts Library Project On Ice, Forbes, August 12, 2005.

Edward Wyatt, Google Alters Plan for Searchable Library Databases, New York Times, August 12, 2005.

Tim O'Reilly, Google Library vs. Publishers, O'Reilly Radar, August 13, 2005.  O'Reilly is a book publisher and a member of the advisory board for Google Print.  He argues that Google's book-scanning is lawful, under fair use, and beneficial to publishers.

Jeffrey Young, Google Answers Complaints About Project to Scan Millions of Books, but Publishers Are Not Won Over, Chronicle of Higher Education, August 12, 2005

On August 11, Google's Adam Smith announced on the Google Blog that the company would temporarily halt the scanning of copyright books under its Library program.

On August 10, Tom Breen published a nearly correct version of the August 11 news, and I criticized him for error.  Was he just scooping everyone else?

* A JISC-SURF report studies scholar attitudes toward copyright.

Esther Hoorn and Maurits van der Graaf, Towards good practices of copyright in Open Access Journals, August 8, 2005. The report of a study funded by JISC and SURF.  (Though dated August 8, it was not apparently released until September 1.)

Here's an excerpt from the report:

[T]he situation regarding the reuse of an author's own articles in traditional journals post publication appears to be unsatisfactory. A large percentage of the authors surveyed (29%) do not ask permission from the publisher, and a significant percentage (19%) state that they feel limited in reusing the article in ways they would like. 4% ask permission for reusing their own article but do not always get it. In addition, asking permission is felt to be cumbersome and time-consuming....The attitudes of the authors on copyright issues in relation to traditional journal publishers are surprising: although most are involved in traditional journal publishing, only 2% prefer the transfer of copyright to the journal publisher and only 10% think that the publisher should handle permission requests to reuse the article. A large majority (71%) wants the authors to keep the copyright; an equally large majority wants to see the author handling permission requests as well. This is also true for the editorial board members of a traditional journal among the respondents....The ideal copyright situation according to most respondents looks like this: the author keeps all rights to reuse the article for educational, scholarly or commercial purposes. The others (readers, users) have the rights to reuse the article for educational or scholarly purposes, but do not have the rights to reuse article for commercial purposes.

Why is this important?  Most scholars who write journal articles acquiesce in publisher demands for copyright, but we don't know exactly why.  Before this study, there were many possible explanations.  Scholars had no objection to this curious custom.  Scholars didn't know enough about copyright to have a different preference.  Scholars felt adequately compensated by what they got in exchange for their labor and intellectual property.  This study makes clear, however, that they do object, they do have a different preference, and they don't feel adequately compensated.  This is a good sign for OA.  Over time, more scholars will undoubtedly ask to retain more rights and they will use their rights to authorize unrestricted access and use for educational and scholarly purposes.


Coming up later this month

Here are some important OA-related events coming up in September.

* September 20.  Proposals are due for OSI's International Policy Fellowship program.

* September 30.  PLoS will officially launch PLoS Pathogens.

PLoS already has a preview online.

* Sometime during September.  The Monterey Institute for Technology and Education will launch the National Repository of [Free] Online Courses.

* Notable conferences this month

Open Access and Scholarly Communication Futures (a CAVAL training workshop conducted by Colin Steele)
Wellington, September 1, 2005

Creating the Information Commons for e-Science: Toward Institutional Policies and Guidelines for Action (sponsored by CODATA, ICSTI, INASP, ICSU, UNESCO, IAP, and TWAS)
Paris, September 1-2, 2005

Digital Resources for the Humanities 2005 (OA is among the topics)
Lancaster, September 4-7, 2005

Strategies for Permanent Access to Scientific Information in Southern Africa: Focus on Health and Environmental Information for Sustainable Development
Pretoria, September 5-7, 2005

Society of Cartographers 41st Annual Summer School (OA is among the topics)
Cambridge, England, September 5-8, 2005

Joint Workshop on Electronic Publishing (sponsored by Delos, SVEP and ScieCom) (OA is among the topics)
Lund, September 14-15, 2005

Maximising Data Value Data Use and Re-Use
Newland Park, September 15-16, 2005

Fifth International Congress on Peer Review and Biomedical Publication (OA is among the topics)
Chicago, September 15-17, 2005

CERN Action on Open Access
Geneva, September 16, 2005

Basic Considerations for Digitization: Providing Access to Special Collections
Columbus, Ohio, September 16, 2005

Libraries Without Walls 6: Evaluating the Distributed Delivery of Library Services (sponsored by MMU and CERLIM)
Lesvos, September 16-20, 2005

9th European Conference on Research and Advanced Technology for Digital Libraries
Vienna, September 18-23, 2005.

Humanities beyond Digitisation
London, September 20-21, 2005

Commitment to Equity (9th World Congress on Health Information and Libraries) (OA is among the topics)
Salvador - Bahia, Brazil, September 20-23, 2005

International Workshop on Knowledge Extraction and Deployment for Digital Libraries and Repositories (KED2005)
Vienna, September 22-23, 2005 (Held in conjunction with the following.)

9th European Conference on Research and Advanced Technology for Digital Libraries (ECDL 2005)
Vienna, September 22-23, 2005. (Held in conjunction with the preceding.)

Building the Info Grid: Digital Library Technologies and Services - Trends and Perspectives
Copenhagen, September 26-27, 2005

Open Access, Open Archives and Open Source (sponsored by Australia's National Scholarly Communications Forum and the Australian Academy of the Humanities)
Sydney, September 27, 2005

European Fedora User Meeting
Copenhagen, September 28, 2005

Australia ETD 2005 8th International Symposium on Electronic Theses & Dissertations
also: http://adt.caul.edu.au/etd2005/etd2005.html
Sydney, September 28-30, 2005

Global Access Project (GAP) Inaugural International Forum
Macquarie University, September 29-30, 2005

* Other OA-related conferences



* I've added 11 new conferences to the conference page since the last issue.  In the next few days I'll delete the second asterisk marking them and the new entries will blend into the rest of the collection.


This is the SPARC Open Access Newsletter (ISSN 1546-7821), written by Peter Suber and published by SPARC.  The views I express in this newsletter are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of SPARC.

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