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
SiliconValley.com. (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
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
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
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
Li Shaomin, Jailers Who Thrive on Silence
Declan McCullagh, Anti-Attack Feds Push Carnivore
Declan McCullagh, Congress Mulls Stiff Crypto Laws
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
* Postscript. Do you have any evidence to the contrary? If so,
please let me know about it or post it directly to our discussion
Free Online Plagiarism Sources
Most cheating services charge money; that's the point. But
schoolsucks.com 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
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
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
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
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
Declan McCullagh, Hollywood Loves Hollings' Bill
Robert Lemos, Draft bill calls for gov't copyright standard
Working draft of the SSSCA (August 6)
Declan McCullagh's page on the SSSCA
Declan McCullagh's politech mailing list
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
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
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
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
* 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
* 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
* 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
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
* 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
* 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
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
* 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
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
* 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
* 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
* 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
Subscribing options reduced
My host for the newsletter and discussion forum, Topica.com, 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
Petrozavodsk, September 11-13
* The Fundamentals of Digital Projects (Illinois Digitization
Urbana, Illinois, September 20
* Intellectual Property and Multimedia in the Digital Age: Copyright
New York, September 24; Cincinnati, October 27; Eugene, Oregon, November
* 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
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
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
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
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
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.
FOS home page, general information, subscriptions, editorial position,
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Guide to the FOS Movement
Copyright (c) 2001, Peter Suber