The Free Online Scholarship (FOS) Newsletter
     September 14, 2001

Please let all of you and yours be alive and safe.

There are certain images from Tuesday that I will never get out of my head.  Sometimes they derail all productive thought, and sometimes they energize.  This issue of the newsletter arose from the spells of energy in between the spells of numbness.  I'd like to say that I got back to work to avoid giving the attackers the victory of stopping me, but in fact this issue is much more like a twitch, a product of involuntary energy.  It's here when you're ready, but I don't expect anyone to be ready.

Working for free online scholarship can support open societies that will not threaten others even if they are intrinsically open to attack by others.  But unfortunately the connection is remote and indirect (more below).  So getting back to work for us does little to prevent future attacks or help the victims of this one.  We should take care of first things first, but then we should get back to work.  The consolation is that when life returns to normal, it will be enriched by what we do, and doing it despite the strife around us is a way of making peace.

If you need help finding a friend or relative, you've probably already turned to the kinds of help that are available.  If you aren't sure what's available, here are two good lists:

The best source of post-attack news I've seen is a blog set up by  (Hit Refresh on your browser every hour or so to get the newest postings.)

There are lots of new discussion groups to share grief and support.  Here's one set up by Andy Carvin.

Not all of us made it.  If you can, please donate money or blood.

These sites make credit card donations to the Red Cross easy.


Open societies and open scholarship

There are complex and subtle connections between the kind of open society that is most vulnerable to acts of terror and the kind of open scholarship that is the focus of the FOS movement and this newsletter.  Open democracies can limit scholarship to those who can afford to buy it.  This was the norm before the internet gave us a viable alternative, and it is still the norm in most disciplines today.  But the converse tends not to hold.  Societies that limit democracy in the name of security also tend to regulate scholarship in the name of security.  The February jailing of Chinese scholar, Li Shaomin, for accepting Taiwanese funds to research subjects politically taboo in China is only one recent example in a dismally long list.

We should not confuse free as unpriced with free as uncensored.  Open societies can put a price on literature more consistently than they can silence it.  Leaving it uncensored is no barrier to charging money for it.  But putting it online free of charge is a barrier to censorship, even if it is one that governments around the world are gradually learning to surmount.

The U.S. is an open democracy.  It may fall short of your ideal of an open democracy, and even its own.  But when judged against past and present democracies, rather than ideals, it is far to the open end.  Yet the U.S. has convicted 2600 Magazine for publishing source code and linking to web sites that did the same.  The U.S. is prosecuting Dmitri Sklyarov for writing, discussing, and selling source code.  Edward Felten may be prosecuted for the same acts, and has yet to get a court to declare that he had a First Amendment right to publish the fruits of his research.

It already seems that one response to the attacks on New York and Washington will be the kind of diminution of liberty that facilitates law enforcement, for example, more airport searches, more sidewalk face scanning, more email eavesdropping, less strong encryption.  If so, then the U.S. will become a less open society.  But it will not on that account alone become less open with its scholarship.

So above all, let's not oversimplify.  Open societies do not guarantee open scholarship, and open scholarship does not guarantee open societies.  Within limits, each can take its lumps without the other suffering.  However, each is an important support, in a complex web of support, for the other.  Hence, they tend to thrive or suffer together.  Unfortunately, seeing them both compromised and limited is more common than seeing both thrive.  This is a reason for special vigilance in the months to come.

Li Shaomin, Jailers Who Thrive on Silence

Declan McCullagh, Anti-Attack Feds Push Carnivore,1283,46747,00.html

Declan McCullagh, Congress Mulls Stiff Crypto Laws,1283,46816,00.html


PLoS aftermath

Arthur Graaff reported in the September 7 _Content Wire_ that the Public Library of Science (PLoS) boycott did not materialize.  Elsevier Science CEO Derk Haank has asserted that there is no evidence that the boycott is taking place.

* Postscript.  Do you have any evidence to the contrary?  If so, please let me know about it or post it directly to our discussion forum.


Free Online Plagiarism Sources

Most cheating services charge money; that's the point.  But gives away its term papers for free.  What makes schoolsucks so philanthropic?  The answer seems to be its founder's contemptuous attitude toward education.  His web site was inspired by the "mediocrity" he discovered as a journalism student.  [Insert punchline here.]

Laurie Flynn, The Wonder Years:  Homework is Free Online

* Postscript.  FOS makes cheating easier for the same reason that it makes research easier.  But it also makes cheating roughly as easy to detect as it is to commit. So bright cheaters will not plagiarize from FOS sites that their teachers can search for free.  But not all cheaters are bright.  There are many kinds of short-sighted students who steal from sources their teachers can easily consult.  Some want to get caught (they were pressured into their major by a parent).  Some are weak of will (their plagiarism is more about impulse than cunning).  Some are dim (proved e.g. by plagiarizing from another student in the same course in the same year or from their teacher's own articles).

* PPS.  The managers of plagiarism sites call them "research" sites.  (And in class they were just "resting their eyes".)  Plagiarism sites make bad research sites.  They don't have the breadth, depth, quality, or timeliness needed for real research, and they usually cost more money than real research.  But research sites function perfectly well as plagiarism sites, at least for students writing on advanced topics.  If this is a problem, then it's one shared by all literature (print or online, free or priced), and one that affects FOS less than priced and password-protected scholarship.


Beyond DMCA

The Security Systems Standards and Certification Act (SSSCA) is the next chapter of U.S. copyright law, if Fritz Hollings and the Senate Commerce Committee have their way.  The SSSCA would prohibit the sale of computer equipment that does not contain federally approved security technologies.  (Old equipment would be grandfathered in.)  It would also prohibit removing security measures from computer equipment and distributing copyrighted material with their security measures disabled.  The last two offenses would be felonies punishable by up to five years in prison and half a million dollars in fines.

Quoting Jonathan Potter, executive director of the Digital Media Association:  "It's about as egregiously an anti-technology bill, in its draft form, as anything I've ever seen.  It would have the United States government approving or disapproving every semiconductor, every server and essentially any digital information technology device prior to coming to market."

Quoting Preston Padden, executive VP of the Walt Disney Company:  "This is an exceedingly moderate and reasonable approach."

Declan McCullagh, New Copyright Bill Heading to DC,1283,46655,00.html

Declan McCullagh, Hollywood Loves Hollings' Bill,1283,46671,00.html

Robert Lemos, Draft bill calls for gov't copyright standard,4586,5096838,00.html

Working draft of the SSSCA (August 6)

Declan McCullagh's page on the SSSCA

Declan McCullagh's politech mailing list

Anti-SSSCA petition


Digitizing newspapers

Historians will hit the mother lode when more newspapers digitize their back issues and put them online.  The National Newspaper Association (NNA) and some corporate partners have undertaken to digitize 20,000 U.S. newspapers, some going back to the 17th century.  The digital collection will be called America's Chronicles (see FOSN for 7/10/01).  The project was to have been officially launched at the NNA's Milwaukee convention September 12.  But after the New York and Washington attacks, the NNA cancelled the convention.  When I hear that the project has launched, I'll publish a notice here.

The online newspapers will be scanned images, not digital texts.  But apparently users will be able to search full-text, even across the collection of papers.  Readers will also get all the flavor of the original fonts and illustrations.

The online collection will start out free of charge, and phase in micro-payments at a later date.  The price structure has not yet been determined.  The $100 million tab for digitization will be paid by corporate donors.

America's Chronicles

National Newspaper Association

* Postscript.  The New York Times is not part of the America's Chronicles project, but is digitizing its back issues on its own.  This week it put its Civil War issues (1860-1866) online.



* According to the 2000 ISI Citation Reports, _Organic Letters_ has surpassed _Tetrahedon Letters_ in impact.  This is significant because _Organic Letters_ is a two-year-old journal launched by the American Chemical Society and SPARC in response to the exorbitant subscription prices charged by other journals of organic chemistry.  _Tetrahedon Letters_ was its closest commercial rival and, at 41 years old, much better established.  (PS:  This news shows many things.  Price and impact are not directly correlated.  Journals cannot use high impact factors to justify high prices.  Libraries, here coordinated by SPARC, have the power to bring down prices without dropping first-rate journals in favor of second-rate journals.)

* Two experts on network security have taken their professional work off the internet, fearing prosecution in the wake of the Dmitri Sklyarov arrest and the legal threat hanging over Edward Felten.  Fred Cohen and Dug Song both fear that the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) could be construed to prohibit their scientific publications and software.  (PS bottom line:  The DMCA and the practice of federal prosecutors are now inducing self-censorship in prudent scientists.)

* Microsoft has released version 2.0 of its ebook reader.  It has multiple levels of security (all of which have been broken), multiple highlight colors, and a new navigation tool called Riffle Control.  With a physical book you can eyeball the number of pages and open to a page roughly 65% into the book.  Riffle Control lets you do the same thing with a mouse click on a marked bar.

* The International Digital Electronic Access Library (IDEAL) has been licensed to all 64 Canadian universities.  IDEAL is a collection of (unfree) online journals and databases in the STM fields.  This is the first nationwide license for IDEAL sources.

* At its annual dinner on September 12, the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers (ALPSP) announced the 2001 ALPSP/Charlesworth awards (See FOSN for 7/10/01.)  The Nature Publishing Group won for learned journals.  SPARC won for service to non-profit publishing.  See the ALPSP web site for the other four awards.

* What if thousands of people in a large city read the same book at the same time, and wore a lapel pin to encourage spontaneous conversations about the book?  This wonderful idea is taking life in Chicago, Seattle, Boise, Buffalo, and Rochester.  --I know that this has only a tenuous connection to FOS (would a city ever read John Stuart Mill's _On Liberty_?), but after Tuesday you may long, as I do, for forms of communal conversation wider than the line at the post office and deeper than online chat.


New on the web

* On September 10, England's Resource Discovery Network (RDN) launched its Physical Sciences Information Gateway (PSIGate).  RDN is a series of disciplinary hubs linking to free content in those disciplines.

* On September 10, York University launched the History and Theory of Pschology E-Print Arvchive (HTP Prints).  This is an OAI-compliant archive for psychology and the history of psychology inspired by arXiv and CogPrints.

* The _American Scientist_ E-Print Discussion Forum moderated by Stevan Harnad now has a mirror.  The forum is probably the oldest, most active, and most comprehensive devoted to FOS issues.  You may know it under the name, September98Forum.  The forum will soon have a second mirror at the site.

Original forum site

Mirror at Harnad's Southampton site

* Paul Mennega has launched the Project Gutenberg Reader, an innovative ebook web site that brings the interface options of an ebook reader to HTML texts and ordinary browsers.  Think of it as an open version of what normally uses encrypted files on dedicated hardware.  The Gutenberg Reader lets users control font style and size, add bookmarks, and take advantage of many different navigation options.  It also lets users search for ebooks by title, author, user rating, or date added to the system.  It works with any HTML text, though it was inspired by the huge archive of online full-text books at Project Gutenberg.  The texts are free and the reader is free.

Project Gutenberg Reader

Project Gutenberg

* Recall that Dmitri Sklyarov's software to break the encryption on Adobe ebooks was legal in Russia, where it was written.  Sklyarov was only arrested because he presented his ideas, and distributed his software, in the U.S., where the DMCA is the law.  (The DMCA anti-circumvention clause criminalizes the manufacture of technologies to bypass copy-protection on copyrighted works.)  On August 31, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement warning Russian programmers that they may be arrested under the DMCA while in U.S. territory even if Sklyarov himself is acquitted.  Here's the original Russian statement with an unofficial English translation.

* Australia's Radio National broadcast a story on FOS ("Knowledege Indignation:  Road Rage on the Information Superhighway") on August 8.  The station web site now has a transcript of the broadcast and links to the RealAudio sound file.  The show was produced by Stan Correy.

* In August, the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) launched a new journal, CLIRinghouse.  It has tables of contents and abstracts online for free, but not full-text.  The first issue contains articles on online learning, digitization budgets, deciding what to digitize, and drawing together those who should decide how to build a digital collection.


Share your thoughts

* The Linking and Exploring Authority Files (LEAF) project would like representatives of archives, libraries, and museums to fill out its user survey on how your institution deals with name authority files.  Today (September 14) is the last day to submit comments.

* Canada is considering legislation comparable to the U.S. DMCA, including the controversial anti-circumvention clause under which Dmitri Sklyarov was arrested.  The Canadian Intellectual Property Policy Directorate has solicited public comments on the legislation and will accept them only until September 15 (tomorrow).

(I know that the deadlines are very short for the last two items.  That's why I posted them to the discussion forum earlier in the week.)

* The College of Staten Island Library is conducting a survey on the use of ebooks, especially in research.  It will welcome comments until October 15.

* If you're a subscriber to _Content Intelligence_, you're invited to fill out a reader survey.  There seems to be no deadline.

* The Medical Library Association seeks nominations for its annual Louise Darling Medal for Distinguished Achievement in Collection Development in the Health Sciences.  It will accept nominations until November 1.

* JISC is soliciting proposals to develop and contribute collection-level content to the Archives Hub service.  It will accept proposals until November 7.


In other publications

* The National Academy Press (NAP) publishes all 2,100 of its books both in print and online.  What's more, access to the online copies is free of charge.  (See FOSN for 4/12/01.)  It has always claimed that the free access to the online copies stimulated sales of print copies more than it depressed them.  Writing for the NAP in the September 14 _Chronicle of Higher Education_, Michael Jensen reiterates this conclusion for a doubting world.  It is all the more striking because in the year just ended, most non-profit book publishers did poorly; by contrast, NAP is having a record year in sales.  Jensen reports that other presses which have tried the experiment (Brookings Institute, MIT Press, Illinois, Columbia) have experienced similar results.  Jensen also offers his analysis of why free online books stimulate rather than kill the market for priced print books.

* In the September 13 _New York Times_, Katie Hafner describes research on ants suggesting that packet-switching networks can be made even more efficient at exchanging information.  If true, this could improve connect and download times without improving the hardware infrastructure.

* You knew that paid placement distorts search engine results.  That's why GoTo (now called Overture) is a search engine for consumers, not researchers.  But did you know that Inktomi search engines have allowed corporate partners to boost the placement of their clients and blacklist their competitors?  In the September 12 _Search Engine World Quarterly_, Brett Tabke lays out the evidence.  (PS:  In light of this, and the movement toward paid placement, when would you trust a search engine for critical research?  Would it have to make the scope of its index and its relevance or sorting algorithm public?  Would it have to be open source?  Would it be enough if it were made by scholars for scholars?)

* The September 10 _Chronicle of Higher Education_ contains an interview with Katherine Hayles (Professor of English at UCLA), who believes that putting fiction online and taking advantage of the possibilities of hypertext change its nature.  (PS:  This makes sense.  What are the analogous changes to online, hypertext non-fiction?)

* Also in the September 10 _Chronicle_, Andrea Foster describes Rep. Rick Boucher's criticism of the DMCA.  Boucher is a Democrat from Virginia who argues that the DMCA tilts too far in favor of copyright holders and does not sufficiently respect fair-use rights, reader rights, and First Amendment rights.  He is preparing an "inventory of concerns" about the DMCA, in preparation for a bill to amend the DMCA, and expects to finish it by January.

* In the September 7 _BizReport_, Steven Bonisteel summarizes a recent Ipsos-Reid report finding that Canadians want their internet content free and will be reluctant to pay for it.  The report apparently focuses on news and entertainment, not scholarship.

* In the September issue of _Information Today_, Péter Jacsó reviews the Joint Conference on Digital Libraries held June 24-28 in Roanoke, Virginia.  The conference was sponsored by the ACM and IEEE.

* The results of the ALPSP/EASE survey on peer review from November 2000 is now online at the ALPSP web site.  Among the results:  only 40% of peer-reviewed journals surveyed practice blind review.  12% do not conceal the names of referees when sharing the assessments with authors.  15% assess the quality of the referees' assessments.  Most journals either do not compensate referees or do so only with a printed acknowledgment.

* Anthony Watkinson's substantial report on print and electronic monograph publishing is now online at the UK Publishers Association (PA).  He argues that the decline in supply and demand we see with specialized print monographs can be reversed by turning to electronic publication.
(Attention PA:  Do your URLs, here and next, have to be this long?)

* Peter Sowden's 2001 Update to the UK Publishers Association compendium of data on university library spending on books and journals is now online.  Among the report highlights:  in 1998-99, compared to the year before, journal spending increased by 9.1% while journal prices rose by 9.5% (showing that cancellation is one method for coping with inflation).  Spending on electronic sources rose by 21.5%, while spending for print books rose by only 1.5%.$FILE/ULspend2001.PDF

* Similarly, Karen Wiesner has updated her July 2000 report on the acceptance rates at a large number of ebook publishers.  The numbers support her conclusion that the common perception that "epublishers accept anything" is a myth.

* In an August 27 article at _TrendSiters_, Sam Vaknin traces the fall of p-zines and the rise of some of the electronic supplements and alternatives that are transforming them.

In another August 27 article at the same site, Vaknin argues that libraries "failed...spectacularly to ride the tiger of the internet" and now compete with it.


Subscribing options reduced

My host for the newsletter and discussion forum,, no longer allows list-owners like me to add new members.  This means that I cannot, on my own say-so, subscribe even those who consent to subscribe.  In the past I had this option and I used it often for those of you who asked to join the list.  In the future, subscribers must sign themselves up.  Topica is making the change in order to assure ISPs that all Topica email (350 million pieces per month) comes from opt-in users.  This is a good cause, and it should prevent the newsletter from being blocked by ISP spam filters that block mass mailings from hosts that cannot provide this 100% opt-in assurance.  I'm sorry to lose the flexibility to make life easier for subscribers, but I hate spam enough to want to cooperate with its total eradication.



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

* DELOS Workshop on Interoperability in Digital Libraries
Darmstadt, September 8-9

* Experimental OAI Based Digital Library Systems
Darmstadt, September 8

* Preserving Online Content for Future Generations
Darmstadt, September 8

* International Autumn School on the Digital Library and E-publishing for Physics, Astronomy and Mathematics
Geneva, September 9-14

* Digital Libraries:  Advanced Methods and Technologies, Digital Collections
Petrozavodsk, September 11-13

* The Fundamentals of Digital Projects (Illinois Digitization Workshop)
Urbana, Illinois, September 20

* Intellectual Property and Multimedia in the Digital Age:  Copyright Town Meeting
New York, September 24; Cincinnati, October 27; Eugene, Oregon, November 19

* Steal This Session: The Digital Millennium Copyright Act Great Debate (part of the 2001 Seybold Summit)
San Francisco, September 26

* Digital Resources for Research in the Humanities
Sydney, September 26-28

* EBLIDA Workshop on the Acquisition and Usage of Electronic Resources
The Hague, September 28

* Exploring an Interface Between Cultural Heritage, Net Art, and State of the Art Projects
Copenhagen, October 3-5

* Summer School on the Digital Library 2001:  Electronic Publishing
Florence, October 7-12

* IT in the Transformation of the Library
Milwaukee, October 11-14

* Collections & Access for the 21st Century Scholar:  A Forum to Explore the Roles of the Research Library
Washington, D.C., October 19-20

* International Conference on Dublin Core and Metadata Applications 2001
Tokyo, October 22-26

* e-Book Lessons:  From Life-Cycle to User Experiences
Waltham, Massachusetts, October 23

* Copyright Issues in the Electronic Age
Waltham, Massachusetts, October 29

* Paperless Publishing:  Peer Review, Production, and Publication
Waltham, Massachusetts, October 30

* The XML Revolution:  What Scholarly Publishers Need to know
Waltham, Massachusetts, November 1

* Information in a Networked World:  Harnessing the Flow
Washington D.C., November 2-8

* Electronic Book 2001:  Authors, Applications, and Accessibility
Washington D.C., November 5-7

* Content Summit 01
Zurich, November 7-9

* Internet Librarian 2001
Pasadena, November 6-8

* First Annual Meeting of the Text Encoding Initiative Consortium
Pisa, November 16-17


This is the Free Online Scholarship Newsletter (ISSN 1535-7848).

Please feel free to forward this newsletter to interested colleagues.  If you are reading a forwarded copy of this issue, you may subscribe yourself by signing up at the FOS home page or the FOS Newsletter page.

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Guide to the FOS Movement

Peter Suber

Copyright (c) 2001, Peter Suber

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