Welcome to the SPARC Open Access Newsletter, issue #90
October 2, 2005
Read this issue online
The Wellcome Trust OA mandate takes effect
The Wellcome Trust announced last November that it would soon start requiring OA to the results of all Wellcome-funded research. The policy took effect yesterday, October 1, 2005. The Wellcome Trust is the largest private funder of medical research in the UK and the first research funding agency in the world, private or public, to mandate OA to the publications arising from its research grants.
We're three policy steps ahead of where we were in April 2003, when the Wellcome Trust and other major research funding agencies met in Chevy Chase, Maryland, to discuss their interest in OA. (1) At that time, the funders decided to use what they called the carrot, not what they called the stick. Hence, in the Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing (issued in June 2003), they agreed to pay the processing fees charged by OA journals but not to require OA archiving. (2) Then in the summer of 2004, both the US House of Representatives and the UK House of Commons recommended mandatory OA archiving for the results of publicly-funded research. In the US, the recommended requirement was weakened to a request and became the NIH public-access policy. In the UK, the recommendation was rejected by the government but picked up by the independent RCUK, which will announce an OA mandate next month to take effect next year. (3) The third step took place yesterday. We now have a working OA mandate from a major funder of research.
The Wellcome Trust policy is superior to the NIH policy in three key respects. First, it's a requirement, not a request. Second, it does not permit delays longer than six months from the date of publication.
The third difference is easy to overlook but at least as important as the first two. The Wellcome policy does not require publisher consent and therefore does not accommodate publisher resistance. The Wellcome policy points out that grantees have agreed to provide OA to their Wellcome-funded research, and that "[a]n author's obligations to the Wellcome Trust will therefore, in almost all cases, pre-date any agreement with a journal." If publishers insist on copyright terms inconsistent with the prior funding agreement, then the Trust simply tells grantees to choose among three options: (a) give the journal fewer rights than it wants and retain the right to comply with the funding agreement, (b) insert a Wellcome-written paragraph into the publisher's copyright transfer agreement allowing the grantee to comply with the funding agreement, or (c) find another publisher.
This is an exemplary solution to the problem. It's not only superior to the NIH policy, which depends on publisher consent, but to the draft RCUK policy, which makes its OA mandate "subject to copyright or licensing arrangements" that might be adopted by publishers.
The Wellcome Trust is a private charity, not a government agency. Hence, the "taxpayer argument" for OA doesn't apply to it. While the taxpayer argument is strong, and properly central to the NIH and RCUK policies, it has tended to steal the limelight from the other strong arguments for OA policies at funding agencies. I hope the Wellcome policy will bring these other arguments back to prominence. OA shares knowledge and accelerates research. It benefits everyone who does research and everyone who depends on research. Funders of research have the same interest in realizing these benefits whether they are using public or private money. If research is useful enough to fund, then it's useful enough to share.
November 2004 announcement of new policy to mandate OA archiving
September 30 press release announcing the October 1 implementation date
Authors Guide and FAQ to the Wellcome Trust OA policy
Does Google Library violate copyright?
The Authors Guild has sued Google for massive copyright infringement. If you don't already know the basic story, skip most of the media coverage and go straight to the sources:
The Authors Guild press release (September 20)
Google's public response (September 20)
To save time, I'd like to assume that the basic facts about the lawsuit are already familiar so that I can jump ahead to some analysis.
First we have to get clear on two terms. "Google Publisher" is the name of the project to scan books that publishers voluntarily offer Google to scan. "Google Library" is the name of the project to scan books in certain libraries, with the consent of the libraries but not necessarily the consent of the publishers. Both are parts of the larger "Google Print" project, which is to scan full-text print materials for adding to the Google search index. For publishers, Google Publisher is opt-in, while Google Library is opt-out. Google Library covers books under copyright as well as books in the public domain. The Authors Guild lawsuit is about the copyrighted portion of Google Library.
For participating books in Google Publisher, and public-domain books in Google Library, Google will display full-text pages. For copyrighted books in Google Library, Google will display only fair-use snippets that match the user's searchstring. Here are some sample screen shots to show the difference.
Do the members of the Authors Guild (AG) think that Google Library will undermine sales of their books? Do they believe that Google Library will *injure* them? Or are they merely trying to enforce a rule against copying, even beneficial copying?
I've seen a plausible case for copyright infringement by Google Library --which, by the way, is opposed by a plausible case against copyright infringement (more below). But I haven't yet seen a plausible case that the authors or publishers will be injured by Google Library. On the contrary, publishing groups who address this, like the ALPSP, tend to concede that the program will benefit them but insist that the rules be followed anyway. The AG press release doesn't mention harm or injury. Deep within the complaint that it filed in court, however, it alleges the members of the class-action suit have suffered "depreciation in the value and ability to license and sell their Works [and] lost profits and/or opportunities" (p. 10). The complaint seeks to collect damages for these losses.
If the AG mentions losses merely as a formality --which is how it looks-- and covertly concedes that Google Library will increase book sales, then the suit might still make sense. But instead of trying to stop a continuing injury, the AG would be trying to extract a settlement. It may want a cut of Google's ad revenue on top of increased sales. If so, then (as I said last month) we're watching a shakedown.
If the AG really believes that Google Library will hurt book sales, then how does it explain the fact that publishers continue to volunteer their books to Google Publisher? Participating publishers know from experience that Google indexing increases sales. Perhaps the authors doubt the evidence, which is still fairly new. Perhaps they'd rather control every copy than have increased visibility and sales. Perhaps they hope Google will pay them to license their content for indexing. In any case, if the authors' fear of lost sales is real, and not put on to pad their legal complaint, then it would be nice to know whether it's an evidence-based fear or a faith-based fear. If their concern is amenable to evidence, then they should rein in the lawyers and study the mounting evidence. If they have a faith-based fear, then their ignorance is hurting everyone including themselves. But of course they still have their right to sue.
If everybody followed the evidence and self-interest, this would be a win-win-win situation. Authors and publishers would benefit from increased visibility and sales. Google would benefit from increased traffic and ad revenue. Users would benefit from increased search-access to the world's book literature.
But instead we have a lawsuit to derail a win-win-win situation. What are its prospects?
Here are main legal arguments for the Authors Guild (AG):
(1) Google's opt-out policy for publishers reverses the usual burden on those who want to copy material under copyright. Google must seek permission first, i.e. offer opt-in instead of opt-out.
(2) Even though Google plans to display only snippets of copyrighted books, it will display a snippet for every search. Systematic searchers could patch together significant portions of a book.
(3) To index the text and produce snippets, Google will have to copy the full-text. Fair use is traditionally limited to much smaller excerpts.
(4) Google will profit from its copying and indexing. (It will put ads on search-return pages, as it does with its other searches.) This is a commercial use.
The main legal arguments for Google and against the AG are:
(1) Google indexing will help sell books. This isn't just a footnote unrelated to the legal merits. It goes directly to the statutory test of fair use, one of whose elements is "the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work" (17 USC 107).
(2) Google will only display snippets of copyrighted books. It's true that different fair-use snippets could be patched together, but that's true of every kind of fair use. If users really wanted free access to full-text, it would be much easier to visit a public library than to find and assemble all the right snippets.
(3) It's true that Google has to make full-text copies in order to index the text and offer snippets. But nevertheless (it can't be repeated often enough) Google will only display fair-use snippets. Moreover, every ISP makes full-text copies without prior permission when passing along browser requests, and every browser makes full-text copies without prior permission when displaying a page of an online document. It's true that the books in question are not already online, but that is less salient than the fact that intermediate copies are allowed even for copyrighted content.
(4) Opt-out is the accepted standard for indexing web content. If search engines had to seek permission before indexing copyrighted content online (i.e. offer opt-in instead of opt-out), then search engines would be impossible. Again, it's true that the books in question are not already online, but that is less salient than the fact that opt-out search crawling is allowed even for copyrighted content.
(5) The four arguments above are reasons to think that the Google Library copying is protected as fair use. (It doesn't matter whether any the arguments suffice on their own or whether they suffice only in combination.) That's critical in its own right, but just as important for what follows. If the copying is fair use, then no prior permission is needed. If no prior permission is needed, then opt-out is perfectly acceptable.
(6) It's true that Google will profit from its copying. But it also profits from the full-text copying and indexing of copyrighted content that its crawlers discover online. Morever, selling ads next to fair-use snippets is very different from selling copies of the texts themselves, something Google has no intention of doing. Journals and magazines may quote fair-use snippets and sell ads on the same pages without violating the law.
If the case goes to trial, some of these arguments are likely to be more central than others. If I had to boil down this summary to the most essential elements, I'd put it this way. The authors --and the publishers who share the same grievance-- are getting far too much mileage from the claim that Google's opt-out policy turns the usual copyright rule on its head. This claim has a deceptive strength. It's strong because it would be valid for most full-text copying. It's deceptive because it assumes without proof that the Google copying is not fair use. Hence it begs the question at the heart of the lawsuit. If the Google copying is fair use, then no prior permission is needed and the opt-out policy is justified. Moreover, Google has several good arguments that its copying really is fair use, most notably its argument that its indexing will enhance rather than diminish book sales and its analogy to long-accepted opt-out policies for search-engine indexing of other copyrighted content.
On the merits, it's an important question to settle. But I admit that I'm not very comfortable having any important copyright question settled in today's legal climate of piracy hysteria and maximalist protection --a new world order getting old fast.
Google's wealth is another wildcard. On the one hand, it makes Google one of the deepest of deep pockets. There could hardly be a more attractive target for a class action suit. (Did you know that every act of willful infringement could net the plaintiffs $150,000?) On the other hand, Google's wealth enables it to defend itself. If Google were easy to intimidate, then it would have backed down long before this. The company's wealth is a reason for it to settle and a reason for it not to settle.
Note that libraries don't have Google's wealth and are easier to intimidate. The libraries that have agreed to let Google scan their books could be named as co-defendants for contributory infringement, but so far have not been. As long as this suit is pending, no other library is likely to volunteer to let Google in the door.
The Authors Guild
The Authors Guild complaint, submitted to the US District Court for the Southern District of New York
The Authors Guild talking points on the lawsuit, in an email to members, September 23, 2005
The fair-use section of the US Copyright Act (17 USC 107)
* Here are some news stories and comments from September on the AG lawsuit. In general I've avoided listing news stories that merely summarize the AG complaint and the Google response. Because general OA news was so thick in September, I didn't have time to post many of these Google stories to my blog.
For expert opinion in support of the AG, see (from the articles cited below) Eric Goldman (law prof), 9/18; Solveig Singleton, 9/21; and Siva Vaidhyanathan, 9/22. There are other anti-Google legal opinions, esp. from the AAP, AAUP, and ALPSP, but not from the last month.
For expert opinion in support of Google, see Jonathan Band (lawyer), n.d.; Laura Quilter (lawyer), 8/13; William Fisher (law prof) and Jessica Litman (law prof) as quoted in Christopher Heun, 9/2; Danny Sullivan, 9/7 and 9/20; Hans-Peter Brøndmo, 9/19; Fred von Lohmann (lawyer), 9/20, 9/21; Susan Crawford (law prof), 9/21; Lawrence Solum (law prof), 9/21; Tim O'Reilly, 9/21; Lawrence Lessig (law prof), 9/22; William Patry (lawyer, former counsel to the House Judiciary Committee), 9/23; Wendy Boswell, 9/24; Julie Hilden (lawyer), 9/26; and Jack Balkin (law prof), 9/28.
Mike Langberg, Google's libraries project facing writers' block, Mercury News, October 2, 2005.
Anon., Google On-Line Library Project Challenged, The CalTrade Report, September 30, 2005.
Jeffrey Young, Authors' Group Sues Google Over Library-Scanning Project, Chronicle of Higher Education, September 30, 2005.
Crimson Staff, Technological Tomes, Harvard Crimson, September 29, 2005.
Jack Balkin, Search Me. Please. Balkinization, September 28, 2005.
Nick Webb, Digitalization, Google and all that...., EPS Google Debate, September 28, 2005.
Tim O'Reilly, Search and Rescue, New York Times, September 28, 2005.
Julie Hilden, Authors Sue Google Over Its "Print for Libraries" Project: Will the Suit Succeed? Should It? And Why, As An Author, I'm Opting Out of Any Class Action, Writ, September 26, 2005.
Daniel B. Wood, Copyright lawsuit challenges Google's vision of digital 'library', Christian Science Monitor, September 26, 2005.
On September 25, the Text and Academic Authors Association (TAA) announced that it favors dialogue over litigation to resolve these issue, but understands and supports the Authors Guild's decision to sue.
A month earlier the TAA made virtually the same criticism of Google Library as the Authors Guild.
Oliver Marre, Authors aghast at Google's plan to put them online, The Independent, September 26, 2005.
Xeni Jardin, You authors are saps to resist Googling, Los Angeles Times, September 25, 2005.
Wendy Boswell, Google Sued by Authors Guild, About Web Search, September 24, 2005.
William Patry, Google Revisited, Patry Copyright Blog, September 23, 2005.
Ben Charmy, Google Print Pressures Libraries, PC Magazine, September 23, 2005.
Lawrence Lessig, Google Sued, Lessig Blog, September 22, 2005.
Siva Vaidhyanathan, Google: Betting the Company, Sivacracy, September 22, 2005.
Fred von Lohmann, Google's Card Catalog Should Be Left Open, EFF, September 21, 2005.
John Blossom, Google Sued by Authors: When is "May I" Necessary? Commentary, September 21, 2005.
Lawrence Solum, Google Print Lawsuit & Class Certification, Legal Theory Blog, September 21, 2005.
James Hilton, University of Michigan statement on Google library project, September 21, 2005. Defending Michigan's participation and the project's lawfulness.
Mike Madison, Google Sued: Books Disappearing, Conglomerate, September 21, 2005.
Tim O'Reilly, Authors Guild Suit, and Google's Response: My Thoughts, O'Reilly Radar, September 21, 2005.
Solveig Singleton, Google suit: Copyright Infringement, IP Central, September 21, 2005
Susan Crawford, Why Google is Right, a blog posting, September 21, 2005. Crawford is an Assistant Professor of Law at Cardozo Law School.
Fred von Lohmann, Authors Guild Sues Google, Deep Links, September 20, 2005.
Gary Price, Google's Library Scanning Project Heads to Court, SearchDay, September 20, 2005. With a postscript by Danny Sullivan.
Hans-Peter Brøndmo, Is Copyright Wrong? ClickZ, September 19, 2005.
Anick Jesdanun, Google scanning books onto Internet, Associated Press (this copy in Wired News), September 19, 2005.
Eric Goldman, My Comments on Google Print, Technology and Marketing Law Blog, September 18, 2005.
Pat Kane, Google Print: commonwealth or enclosure? EPS, September 13, 2005. Part of the EPS debate on the Google book-scanning project.
Philip Jones, ALPSP calls for 'urgent' Google meeting, Information World Review, September 16, 2005.
Danny Sullivan, Legal Experts Say Google Library Digitization Project Likely OK; Will It Revolve Around Snippets? Search Engine Watch, September 7, 2005.
Jonathan Band, The Google Print Library Project: A Copyright Analysis, apparently a preprint, n.d. After a detailed analysis of the four factors of fair use under U.S. law, Band concludes that Google's scanning of copyrighted books is lawful.
Electronic Publishing Services (EPS) is running an online debate on this question: "Google and the Book Publishers: Is the Age of Search bringing exciting new opportunities for publishers, or is it the beginning of the end?" Unlike most other EPS initiatives, this one is OA. The first contribution is from Adam Hodgkin, founder of xrefer.
David Utter, Google Print Probably Legal, WebProNews, September 5, 2005.
Christopher T. Heun, Courts Unlikely To Stop Google Book Copying, InternetWeek, September 2, 2005. Building on the opinions of law professors William Fisher and Jessica Litman.
Laura Quilter, Google and Not-For-Profit Libraries, LQuilter blog, August 13, 2005.
* Postscript. The same Authors Guild that is suing Google today tried to stop Amazon from selling used books in 2000 and then again in 2002.
It also protested Amazon's Search Inside the Book service in 2003, on nearly the same grounds that it now protests Google Library.
If it couldn't stop Amazon Search Inside, at least it wanted compensation for authors every time an Amazon user viewed an online book snippet.
It also wanted taxpayers to pay authors royalties every time their books were borrowed from public libraries.
It also supported the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act.
If fair use, first sale, or limited terms were new ideas in copyright law, the AG would oppose their recognition. If public libraries were a new idea, the AG would oppose their creation.
* PPS. The AG is trying to certify its suit as a class action. If it succeeds, then instead of the three individual author-plaintiffs named in the suit at present, the plaintiff class would include all authors with copyrighted books in the University of Michigan Library, one of the libraries targeted for a full scan by Google Library. Lawrence Solum and Julie Hilden have taken the lead in arguing that not all authors in that class support the AG's lawsuit. I'm one and I've said in public (blog for September 30) that I'd gladly join a group of intervenors in opposing class certification. I'd only change my mind if Google said in public that it preferred to face a class action suit, for example in order to avoid facing a new plaintiff and new lawyer every week for the next century.
To find out whether one of your books is in the University of Michigan library, use Mirlyn, Michigan's online catalog.
Top stories from September 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 September:* OECD calls for OA to publicly-funded research.
* CODATA proposes a Global Information Commons for Science.
* Stevan Harnad calculates the monetary cost of lost citation impact.
* AZoM launches an OA journal with a patented business model.
* Brazil conference issues two access declarations.
* The RCUK policy continues to generate news and comment.
* OECD calls for OA to publicly-funded research.
The new OECD report by John Houghton and Graham Vickery regards OA journals and OA archiving as the two primary alternatives to the Big Deal, and it recommends enhanced access to publicly-funded research. If there's a weakness, it's that it needlessly pulls its big punch. For example, when it calls for enhanced access to publicly-funded research, it cites the principle underlying the OECD's important 2004 Declaration on Access to Research Data From Public Funding. But the principle of that declaration was open access. If we put two and two together, then the new report recommeds OA to publicly-funded research. But why does it make the reader put two and two together?
The authors sometimes seem to want to be neutral more than critical. They summarize the advantages and disadvantages of OA journals and OA archiving in two annotated tables (pp. 63, 70), and tend to list every alleged disadvantage cited by a critic even if has long since been answered and shown to be illusory. The annotations don't always mention these rebuttals. For example, the first table suggests that OA journals charging author-side fees "may lead to inequality of access, with publishing based on means rather than merit" and "may raise quality concerns due to economic pressure to lower rejection rates to control costs". I've answered these two objections at length in previous issues of this newsletter.
The 2004 Declaration on OA to data wasn't just a report. It was a commitment signed by ministerial representatives from 34 countries, including the EU nations and the US. When talking to government agencies and policy-makers, I've often cited the OECD Declaration (and the WSIS principles) as examples of the US national commitment to the principles of OA. But the OECD Declaration was limited to research data and did not cover the literature interpreting the data. Now that the OECD has endorsed OA to literature as well, let's hope that it can make the bottom-line recommendation more explicit, turn the new report into a new Declaration, and recruit another round of national commitments.
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
John Houghton and Graham Vickery, Digital Broadband Content: Scientific Publishing, OECD, September 2, 2005.
OECD press release, September 22, 2005.
Compare the new study, on scientific literature, with the January 2004 OECD Declaration on Access to Research Data From Public Funding.
Anon., OECD report identifies policy options to promote digital scientific publishing, CORDIS News, September 26, 2005. An unsigned news story on the OECD report.
Anon., The paperless library, The Economist, September 22, 2005. An unsigned news story on the OECD report.
* CODATA proposes a Global Information Commons for Science.
CODATA isn't proposing a new definition of OA or a set of principles. It's proposing a partnership and a platform to coordinate action. Here's an excerpt from its September 1 announcement:The Global Information Commons for Science Initiative would be a multi-stakeholder undertaking that would be launched as an outcome of the second and final phase of WSIS. It would leverage the strengths of a diverse coalition for the purpose of raising awareness on the part of the actors and increasing the effectiveness of the activities directed to facilitating various methods of open access and re-use of publicly-funded scientific data and information, and to promoting cooperative sharing of research tools and materials among researchers. The Initiative would not duplicate existing efforts. Rather, it would provide a shared global platform for members to promote existing initiatives, broker new ones where more effort is needed, build partnerships and share experience, and develop and publicize principles, guidelines and best practices. The Initiative would be open without fee to active participation from government agencies, universities and other institutions of higher education, non-governmental organizations and not-for-profit research institutes, the private sector, international and intergovernmental organizations, and civil society. To become a partner, organizations would need to make a commitment at the CEO/leader level to undertake one or more activities that contribute to the stated goals of the Initiative. Partners would contribute according to their own circumstances and capacities; each partner would maintain equal and independent status, while working toward agreed common objectives. The key elements and actions necessary to establish and implement this initiative will be identified and developed by interested stakeholders between now and the Tunis summit. Separate funding would be sought to support a secretariat and related information dissemination and coordination services. Actual establishment and implementation of the proposed initiative would commence in 2006.
CODATA drafted the proposal in light of responses to the workshop, Creating the Information Commons for e-Science: Toward Institutional Policies and Guidelines for Action (Paris, September 1-2, 2005). Kathleen Cass, CODATA's Executive Director, says that the proposal will be further developed between now and the November WSIS meeting in Tunis, and welcomes comments.
The CODATA proposal is on the right track to go beyond OA endorsements to participation and action. But it shares that property with the Budapest, Bethesda, and Berlin initiatives, along with many others, all of which are already at work. The Global Information Commons for Science (GICS) differs from earlier initiatives in seeking to connect the campaign for OA with the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), which endorsed OA in 2003 and still needs to organize steps to act on the endorsement. GICS already has significant institutional support from ICSTI, ICSU, INASP, TWAS, UNESCO, and the OECD, which co-sponsored the Paris meeting that spawned the proposal. If GICS can turn this institutional support into new action, and harness the 175-nation support for WSIS rather than get bogged down in its diplomatic quicksand, then it will be an important partnership.
The Global Information Commons for Science Initiative, September 1, 2005.
For another WSIS-related OA proposal from September, see the International Researchers' Charter from the International Association for Media and Communication Research.
* Stevan Harnad calculates the monetary cost of lost citation impact.
If providing OA to an article will increase the number of its citations, on average, then failure to provide OA will decrease its potential citations, on average. If citations are the coin of the realm for promotion and tenure, then they correlate with pay increases and have a cash value. How much are they worth and how much of that value does England lose by not yet mandating OA to its research output? Stevan Harnad did the calculation and published his results on September 14. His answer: £1.5 billion/year (or in dollars, about $2.7 billion/year)
The loss is felt as reduced impact by English scientists, who compete for promotion, tenure, and pay hikes with one hand tied behind their backs. It's also felt by English taxpayers as reduced return on the investment in publicly-funded research.
The assumptions in Harnad's calculation are all conservative. He uses the low-end estimate of a citation's value and the low-end estimate of the impact advantage of OA. He first computes the value for the subset of UK articles published in ISI-indexed journals, and then scales it up UK articles arising from public funding --which is still only a subset of the national research output. Moreover, he only looks at lost citation impact, not lost research advances, which are less amenable to measurement and many times more valuable.
The remedy is to mandate OA to publicly-funded research, which is exactly what the RCUK draft policy proposes.
Harnad's calculation has triggered a flurry of discussion, mostly on LibLicense and the AmSci OA Forum, about its method and assumptions. I refer you to that discussion if you are interested in the difficulties of this calculation, how Harnad responds to them, and what qualifications he puts on his conclusion. But regardless of the outcome of that discussion, scholars and nations clearly pay a large opportunity cost by making useful research needlessly difficult to find, reach, read, and use. If we can't be very precise about its value, we can at least make useful strides toward approximating it. Moreover, by acknowledging it, we can get beyond one-sided analyses in which publisher losses are the only monetary losses under discussion. Finally, when we put the two losses in perspective, we stand a better chance of evaluating access policies by the proper criterion of what best advances science rather than by the misleading criterion of what best advances the economic interests of one group of stakeholders.
Stevan Harnad, Maximising the Return on UK's Public Investment in Research, a preprint, September 14, 2005.
University of Southampton's press release on Harnad's research, September 14, 2005.
Here are some news stories on Harnad's calculation.
Lucy Sherriff, Open access to research worth £1.5bn a year, The Register, September 16, 2005.
Jimmy Leach, Open access failings 'cost UK £1.5bn', The Guardian, September 16, 2005.
* AZoM launches an OA journal with a patented business model.
The AZo Journal of Materials Online --AZojomo for short-- is a new peer-reviewed, open-access journal from AZoM.com. AZojomo is published by AZoM.com ("The A to Z of Materials").
What's most notable about AZojomo its use of a patented business model, which it calls the Open Access Rewards System (OARS). Basically, readers pay no subscription or access fees and authors pay no processing fees. But the journal content is only free for non-commercial uses. Revenue from advertising, sponsorships, and commercial use will be divided among the authors (50%), referees (20%), and site operators (30%).
It's commendable that AZojomo has found a way to pay authors for their articles without interfering with OA. But the patent is harmful, unnecessary, and inconsistent. If the AZoM revenue-sharing plan turns out to be a good business model for a scholarly journal, then it should spread. Neither royalty fees nor the fear of liability should slow its uptake. Business method patents are pernicious, and I would not want to see them hold back non-OA journals, let alone OA journals. AZojomo: if the idea is good, then take credit for a good idea, but make it better by renouncing the patent.
Press release announcing AZojomo, September 26, 2005.
Open Access Rewards System (OARS)
BTW, it's not true (as AZoM claims in its press release) that "[t]his is the first time anywhere in the world that scientists can be directly rewarded for the publication of their research papers." In 2003 I wrote about the tradition of paying scholars for their journal articles in Croatia, Russia, and other formerly socialist countries.
Open access when authors are paid, SPARC Open Access Newsletter, December 2, 2003.
(Patent lawyers: does this tradition constitute prior art?)
* Brazil conference issues two access declarations.
The participants at the 9th World Congress on Health Information and Libraries, Commitment to Equity (Salvador, Bahia, Brazil, September 20-23, 2005) issued two declarations on access to knowledge. If you don't have time to read them through, note that the second one calls on governments to require OA to publicly-funded research.
The Declaration of Salvador - Commitment to Equity, September 23, 2005.
http://www.icml9.org/channel.php?lang=en&channel=91&content=438&PHPSESSID=5f3567e7926317cb45d08f0c2281d3e1Excerpt: Taking into consideration, [t]hat equity in access and mastering of information and knowledge is an essential condition for improving the health and quality of life of individuals and communities,...[t]hat information and knowledge are global public goods whose universal and equitable production and circulation to overcome regional inequities require the improvement and establishment of new norms and institutional arrangements of the international community, particularly the United Nations agencies,...[we] [e]xhort [g]overnments [t]o define policies, norms and programs aimed to: promote broad and equitable access to national and international sources of information and knowledge, strengthening the necessary infrastructure through movements such as "open access"....
The Salvador Declaration on Open Access: The Developing World Perspective, September 23, 2005.
http://www.icml9.org/channel.php?lang=en&channel=91&content=439&PHPSESSID=5f3567e7926317cb45d08f0c2281d3e1Excerpt: Open access means unrestricted access to and use of scientific information. It has growing support worldwide and it is received with enthusiasm and high expectations in the developing world. Open Access promotes equity. For the developing world Open Access will increase scientists and academics capacity to both access and contribute to world science....Consequently, WE, the participants of the International Seminar on Open Access - parallel meeting of the 9th World Congress on Health Information and Libraries and the 7th Regional Congress of Information in Health Sciences agree that......Science advances more effectively when there is unrestricted access to scientific information.  More broadly, open access enables education and use of scientific information by the public.  In a world that is increasingly globalized, with science claiming to be universal, exclusion from access to information is not acceptable. It is important that access be considered as a universal right, independent of any region.  Open Access must facilitate developing countries' active participation in the worldwide exchange of scientific information, including free access to the heritage of scientific knowledge, effective participation in the process of generation and dissemination of knowledge, and strengthening the coverage of topics of direct relevance to developing countries.  Developing countries already have pioneering initiatives that promote Open Access and therefore they should play an important role in shaping Open Access worldwide. Therefore, [w]e urge governments to make Open Access a high priority in science policies including: requiring that publicly funded research is made available through Open Access; considering the cost of publication as part of the cost of research; strengthening the local OA journals, repositories and other relevant initiatives; promoting integration of developing countries scientific information in the worldwide body of knowledge. We call on all stakeholders in the international community to work together to ensure that scientific information is openly accessible and freely available to all, forever.
Also see T. Scott Plutchak's personal observations on the meeting that produced the declarations.
Both declarations focus on the special needs of developing countries, but they are not the first to do so. Also see the Declaration of San Jose (March 27, 1998), the Declaration on Science and the Use of Scientific Knowledge (July 1, 1999), the Declaration of Havana (April 27, 2001), the Beijing Declaration (October 19, 2003), the IAP Statement on Access to Scientific Information (December 4, 2003), the Valparaiso Declaration (January 15, 2004), the Declaration from Buenos Aires (August 28, 2004), and the Library-Related Principles for the International Development Agenda of WIPO (January 26, 2005).
* The RCUK policy continues to generate news and comment.
The draft RCUK policy says that it would take effect October 1. But clearly that date has slipped. The only official word from the RCUK since the public comment period ended on August 31 is that it will make an announcement in November. The implementation date will be sometime in 2006, probably in April. Here's some of the news and comment from September.
Robin Peek, "Open (?) Debate on RCUK," Information Today, October 2005.
The RCUK has issued a press release on September 21 to bring everyone up to date on the draft OA policy.
Laura Barnett and Hanna Hindstrom, All research to go online, Times Higher Education Supplement, September 23, 2004.
Also see Stevan Harnad's response to Barnett andn Hindstrom's article.
On September 21, the Scientific Information Working Group of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) publicly released its August 31 comment on the draft RCUK OA policy.
On September 20, JISC publicly released its comment on the draft RCUK policy.
Anon., Learned societies argue open access depletes research funds, Research Fortnight, September 14, 2005.
Three UK library associations publicly released their August 25 comment on the RCUK draft OA policy.
Belinda Isaac, Open access to research - but at what cost? IC Wales, September 14, 2005.
On September 9, the UK Green party endorsed OA, even mandated OA, for the UK, but didn't seem to know about the RCUK draft policy.
Universities UK endorsed the RCUK open-access policy on September 8, 2005.
Anon., Call for free access to research, BBC News, September 7, 2005.
Tim Poulus, Open access publishing close to a new milestone, Communications Breakdown, September 5, 2005.
Coming up later this month
Here are some important OA-related events coming up in October.
* October 1, 2005. Wellcome Trust policy takes effect to mandate OA to Wellcome-funded research.
* October 28, 2005. Comments are due on the privatization of the OA journal, Environmental Health Perspectives.
* October 31, 2005. Comments are due in the SSHRC consultation on OA.
* Sometime in October 2005. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy's NEH grant expires. This is its deadline to become self-sufficient.
Follow its progress on its fund-raising page.
* Sometime during October 2005. India's Knowledge Commission is expected to deliver its first set of recommendations.
* Notable conferences this month
Electronic publication of archaeological journals
London, October 4, 2005
The Berlin4 conference, originally scheduled for October 4-7, has been postponed until the spring of 2006. The exact date is TBA.
EUSIDIC Annual Conference: Integration versus granularity of information resources: interoperability and interconnectivity of services, systems, and media manifestations
[no web site yet]
Innsbruck, October 9-11, 2005
Knowledge Management in the e-world: New models for scholarly communication (OA is among the topics)
Istanbul, October 13-14, 2005
Workshop on the Long-Term Curation and Preservation of Medical Databases (sponsored by DCC and ERPANET)
Lisbon, October 13-14, 2005
Free Culture and The Digital Library
Atlanta, October 14, 2005
Database Producers in the Humanities (NFAIS Humanities Roundtable IV)
New York, October 14, 2005
2005 International Symposium on Wikis
San Diego, October 17-18, 2005
Edmonton, October 17-19, 2005
CERN workshop on Innovations in Scholarly Communication (OAI4)
Geneva, October 20-22, 2005
First workshop on eprints in Library and Information Science
Geneva, October 22, 2005
Google and beyond: Who will digitise our books? (a session within the Frankfurt Book Fair sponsored by IFLA and IPA)
Frankfurt, October 21, 2005
Is there any progress in alternative publishing? Problems of scholarly information economy (5th Frankfurt Scientific Symposium)
Frankfurt, October 22-23, 2005
Digital Asset Management with Fedora
Aberystwyth, October 24, 2005
Managing Digital Assets: Strategic Issues for Research Libraries (IR's are among the topics)
Washington, D.C., October 28, 2005
Sparking Synergies: Bringing Research and Practice Together (ASIST 2005)
Charlotte, North Carolina, October 28 - November 2, 2005
* Other OA-related conferences
* I've added 21 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.
* At the bottom of the sidebar to Open Access News, I used to have a real-time map showing where the OAN readers were located. But the underlying map service changed recently. The map in the sidebar is now static and links to a larger version of the dynamic, up-to-date map. I encourage you to click through sometime. It's a fascinating picture of the worldwide interest in following OA developments --and it doesn't even include users to read OAN through one of its dozen mirror sites or get the OAN feed by RSS.
Where are the OAN readers?
* I'm pleased to announce a new way to subscribe to OAN posts by email. If you remember, I used to have an account with Bloglet, which converted OAN posts to email messages. But Bloglet was unreliable, and for a long time there were no good alternatives. While I still haven't found a good blog-to-email service, I've found several good RSS-to-email services. After experimenting, I've picked RSSFWD.
The easiest way to sign up is to click on the orange RSSFWD icon in the blog sidebar (below the list of archive links) and enter your email address when asked. You can also visit the RSSFWD site and follow the directions.
I like RSSFWD because the emails it sends out include the bylines and all the links within the original blog posting. It sends each posting in a separate email, which is convenient for forwarding. Instead of sending out each posting as it is completed, it sends out the accumulated postings the next time it visits ("polls") the site, which is averaging once or twice a day.
If you can't visit the web edition very often, and if you haven't adopted RSS, then try this alternative. It's a painless way to keep up.
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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