Welcome to the SPARC Open Access Newsletter, issue #91
November 2, 2005
Read this issue online
The Open Content Alliance
The Open Content Alliance (OCA) is a major new project to scan print books and index them for searching. It was launched on October 3 by an international consortium of profit and non-profit organizations. When the books are in the public domain or when OCA has obtained the copyright-holder's consent, then it will provide open access to the full-texts.
The press is calling OCA a Yahoo initiative, perhaps to play up a rivalry with Google. But the Internet Archive conceived the OCA and will administer it. Yahoo will index the content for searching. Adobe and HP Labs will provide technology. Content will come from any and all institutions that can be persuaded to volunteer. At the time of launch, there were six: the European Archive, National Archives of the UK, O'Reilly Media, Prelinger Archives, the University of California, and the University of Toronto. Three weeks later the content-providers had almost tripled. The new members include the Biodiversity Heritage Library, the Smithsonian Institution Libraries, Columbia University, Emory University, Johns Hopkins University Libraries, and McMaster University, Rice University, York University, and the Universities of British Columbia, Ottawa, Pittsburgh, and Virginia. Two especially important post-launch members are the RLG and Microsoft. New members are always welcome.
Unlike Google Library, the OCA will only scan copyrighted books when it has the copyright-holder's consent. As a result, publisher groups that criticized Google Library (AAP, AAUP, ALPSP) have endorsed the OCA.
OCA-scanned books will be available at a separate web site called the Open Library, and searchable through IA, Yahoo, and Microsoft. Or more precisely, that's where they'll start. But all OCA's digitizing, copying, and indexing will be non-exclusive. If other organizations want to copy and host the texts, they may. If other search engines want to index them, they may. Yes, that includes Google.
In addition to producing free online digital books, OCA will support print-on-demand from Lulu and audio editions from LibriVox.
Here are some thoughts about the project, especially in contrast with Google's Library project.
* For publishers of books under copyright, the OCA is opt-in rather than opt-out. This definitely pleases publishers and others with a conservative interpretation of fair use, but it doesn't follow that the Google opt-out policy is unlawful. Nor does the OCA policy weaken the legal case for the Google policy.
Both policies might be lawful. If Google wins in court and vindicates the opt-out policy, then book-scanning projects will have two lawful options and it will be interesting to compare them. For some authors and some publishers, the OCA method will look better. But for the book-scanners themselves, for readers, and for many other authors and publishers, the Google method will look better. The advantage of opt-in is strongest in a period of legal uncertainty, like the present. While Google is moiling through lawsuits, paying lawyers, and risking liability, the OCA can proceed without risk.
However, if opt-out is ever vindicated, then its attractions will be unmistakable. First, it dispenses with the cost and delay of seeking permission. Second, it opens a much larger universe of books for the book-scanners. If some publishers will opt in, some will opt out, and others will not respond one way or another --because they don't realize that their texts are being scanned or they don't care enough to stop it-- then an opt-in policy will get only the first set of texts while an opt-out policy will get both the first and the third.
In short, the chief advantage of the OCA opt-in policy is that it's clearly legal. If the Google opt-out policy is ever clearly legal too, it will be so much better that even the OCA should consider using it.
* While the OCA pleases publisher groups that objected to Google Library, its reception among author groups is less clear. At least one author group that criticized Google Library --the Text and Academic Authors Association-- also supports the OCA. But I haven't yet seen a statement from the Authors Guild (AG) about the OCA. In fact, if the AG is consistent, it will have the same objection to the OCA that it has to Google Library. If the Google project undercuts book sales, then so will the OCA, and publisher consent won't stop it. If the Google project increases book sales but doesn't pay for the privilege, then the OCA project will do the same, and publisher consent won't change that.
* The OCA will deliver full open access to its texts whenever it has permission. By contrast, when Google digitizes public-domain books, it will disable printing and downloading in the user's browser, ruling out redistribution and offline reading. Google's scanning is non-exclusive in the sense that anyone else with millions of dollars is free to scan the same texts. But it's exclusive in the sense that Google will not share its digital results with the public except under certain restrictions. For Google, these restrictions are the default, even for public-domain texts. Google is spending a lot of money to digitize these texts and wants to be the only tool in town to index them, at least for a significant time.
For the OCA, however, the default is to remove all access barriers and retain no edge over rivals. That's so remarkable that it's worth saying again: the OCA policy is to give everything away everything that it has permission to give away. The only edge its members will retain over rivals is the good will they generate and the use of the digital files slightly before anyone else. Not only are Yahoo and Microsoft --bitter rivals-- working together within the OCA, both are willing to share the results with Google, a common rival to them both.
We could even say that insofar as they participate in this digital book commons, the members of the OCA have no rivals. Everyone is either a partner by working with them or a partner by receiving the benefit of their work and investment as a gift. Google can be forgiven if it wonders whether this is a business model or a potlatch.
It's not an ordinary business model, since the OCA is not-for-profit. But it's not an ordinary potlatch either, since it's all about utility, not ceremony. However, it has elements of both. The OCA has found a way to make a gift of unrivaled significance and still to pay the bills. The OCA is consciously surpassing Google in the openness of its content, or the generosity of its gift, but it's also consciously surpassing Google in the legal stability of its business methods.
But of course Yahoo and Microsoft are still rivals apart from OCA and still see ways to make money from their participation in OCA even if that has to be long-term and indirect. The only short-term boost they get over Google from this project is the chance to build better relations with the authors and publishers who dislike the Google project. We should never forget, however, that many authors and publishers think the lawsuits against Google are baseless and harmful, approve the opt-out policy, and love the Google project.
The rivalries among Yahoo, Microsoft, and Google are not only real, but interesting enough to soak up news attention. But reporters who focus on the rivalries are missing half the full story. The OCA project and Google Library are compatible and complementary. Both teams take the position that "the more, the merrier" and they're both right to do so. Both teams work to minimize duplication among the scanned books.
* The best statement of the OCA's open-access policy is by Daniel Greenstein of the California Digital Library. Barbara Quint quotes him in the October 31 issue of Information Today: Content providers "must compete on value added to the content, not on ownership." Giving away the content to all who want it will "drive innovations in service provisions, such as annotated and educational services." Even the for-profit OCA partners must recognize that "proprietary control over content is an impediment to commerce."
Let's hope that's the future of book and journal literature.
* Even for the OCA, however, the details of reuse permissions may vary from one content donor to another. Here's how Brewster Kahle put it in his introduction to the OCA for the Yahoo Search Blog (October 2): "We believe that donors should have the option to restrict the bulk re-hosting of a substantial part of a collection. This seems fair....Interestingly University of California and Yahoo have decided to not put any restrictions. So if another library wants to re-host these on their website, or another search engine wants to integrate them into their page flipping system, they are welcome to. To be clear, the public domain works in the Open Content Alliance can be "borrowed" in bulk for build navigation services, do research on, and the like. Bits and pieces of the public domain collections can be re-used and re-interpreted. If someone wants to print and binding a book and sell it on Amazon.com-- go nuts, if they want to make it into an audio book and post it on the web-- go for it (we will even supply the hosting for this), basically let's have a blast building on the classics of humankind."
This policy is codified in the first two principles of the OCA:
" The OCA will encourage the greatest possible degree of access to and reuse of collections in the archive, while respecting the rights of content owners and contributors.  Contributors will determine the terms and conditions under which their collections are distributed and how attribution should be made."
* I appreciate that Google would undermine its investment if it shared its files freely. But of course I still prefer the OCA policy of free sharing. Given the complicated balance of rivalry and complementarity between the two projects, is there a chance that Google will feel anything like competitive pressure to open up access a bit more to its public-domain books? Google's need to protect its investment may explain why it displays its books as images rather than text, but it doesn't explain why it disables printing. The purpose can't be to block rival indexing, since a search engine can't crawl a printout. Nor can it be to ingratiate rights holders, since no permission is needed to copy books in the public domain. Similarly, it doesn't explain why Google blocks downloading the image files for offline reading, since a search engine can't (yet) crawl image files online or off. Can we hope that Google will feel pressure from the OCA to offer printing and downloading for its public-domain books, even if not full OA for rival indexing?
Moreover, Google is oddly blocking access to its digital books for users in certain European countries, even for books that are clearly in the public domain in those countries. (Thanks to Klaus Graf for documenting this.) Google hasn't said whether this is a feature or a bug, deliberate or inadvertent. But either way, can we hope that pressure from the OCA will give it a reason to lift the barriers?
BTW, the OCA books in the Open Library are images, just like Google's. However, the OCA allows users to download the books in PDF format. (The download command is in the "Print" menu, and is currently supported for some but not all the Open Library books.) The PDF contains the image files, not text for cutting and pasting. This is an annoying limitation but a step above what Google is offering. If Google lifts access barriers in response to OCA, and rivals the OCA in openness, is there any chance that OCA will take a step to maintain its lead? Both projects have text qua text behind the images, for searching. Which will be first to give it to users, at least for public-domain books? I'd love to see non-image or text versions of these books online, even if they are only crudely formatted.
* The OCA hasn't merely made a general offer of its content to every user and search engine. It has specifically invited Google to join the consortium and crawl the content. As far we know, Google hasn't come to a decision yet. I'd like to see Google accept the invitation. Indexing the OCA content would improve the Google index, which would help both Google and its users. Is Google willing to pass up that increment of quality in order to avoid feeling pressure to reciprocate, or in order to spurn a gift from Yahoo and Microsoft? Declining the invitation would not be "evil", but I can't see that it would do any good.
* While some OCA members are for-profit corporations (Yahoo, Microsoft, Adobe, HP), the OCA itself is non-profit. More, it's a 501(c)(3) corporation, which means that donations to it are tax-deductible in the U.S. Supporters who have no technology or content to offer may help by donating money.
* The Google project has at least one advantage for the libraries and archives that donate content. Google will pay the costs of scanning, while the OCA expects the donating institutions to bear these costs --at the unprecedented low rate of 10 cents/page. There are some exceptions, however. Yahoo will pay to scan the University of California's 18,000 volume collection of American literature, for example, and Microsoft will pay to scan 150,000 books still to be determined. The U of California, though, has committed $500,000 of its own money to pick up where Yahoo left off and scan a few more collections after that.
The allocation of costs is one reason why the OCA corpus will grow more slowly than the Google corpus. Of course it's also a reason why Google feels more pressure than the OCA to glean some competitive advantage from its investment.
* Another reason why the OCA corpus will grow more slowly than the Google corpus, at least for copyrighted books, is that seeking and obtaining permission from the copyright holder is time-consuming, expensive, and frequently unsuccessful.
Just last month Denise Troll Covey of Carnegie-Mellon published a study documenting the difficulties.
Also see Kathlin Smith's summary of the Covey study in the November/December CLIR Issues.
Look at these obstacles closely. That's what the OCA has signed up to face and what Google needn't face as long as it can use its opt-out policy.
* Google Library has signed up five significant research libraries. The OCA started with two, now has a dozen, and has a standing invitation for more.
Libraries attracted to the general idea may be unsure which team to join. Google offers the advantage of paying the bills, but also the risks of implicating its library partners in lawsuits for contributory infringement. So far, both the author plaintiffs and publisher plaintiffs suing Google have left the libraries out. That's commendable but legally unnecessary and there's no telling how long it will last.
* The libraries already participating in the OCA, Google Library, and the EU's i2010 project are among the best-stocked in the world. Only a fraction of their books have been digitized so far. But before long we'll reach an important crossover moment when every researcher with an internet connection will have free online access to more full-text books online than are shelved at the average university library. The crossover moment for public-domain books will occur long before the crossover moment for copyrighted books, but I believe both are inevitable. Also inevitable is the crossover moment when online researchers have free online access to more full-text books than are shelved at the *top* academic libraries.
The number of free online full-text journal articles is growing steadily and it's likely that its percentage relative to toll-access journal articles is also growing. However, the percentage of books that are free online may soon exceed the percentage of journal articles that are free online. A year or two ago that would have been most unexpected. Journal articles are the low-hanging fruit for OA because they are royalty-free, and books are higher-hanging fruit because they are not. But to be precise, only copyrighted books pay royalties; public-domain books are as royalty-free as journal articles, though for a different reason. One clear advantage for journal articles is that they are born digital, nowadays, while public-domain books must be scanned. On the other side, however, public-domain books have two advantages over journal articles for the purposes of OA. The first is that well-funded and well-motivated players are providing OA to public-domain books, one huge swath at a time. The second is that the legal basis for OA to public-domain books is the expiration of copyright, while the legal basis for OA to (most) journal articles is copyright-holder consent. As we know all too well, the fact that article authors have an interest in consenting to OA, and the fact that they could consent to OA without losing revenue, don't mean that they are all consenting. Moreover, when they do consent, they don't always take the next step of submitting their work to an OA journal or depositing it in an OA repository. Consequently, we should be prepared to see the curve for OA public-domain books, starting about now, rise more quickly than the curve for OA journal articles. The public-domain book curve could cross the journal curve in less than a year, keep climbing, and reach roughly 100% ages before the journal curve reaches 100%.
* Both the OCA and Google Library will give priority to public-domain books, although both will also include books under copyright. For some time, then, progress reports and popular scans will focus public attention on the wealth of the public domain. Let's hope this educates voters about the importance of protecting the public domain from encroachments such as copyright-term extensions.
Likewise, by making a point of getting the rights-holder's consent before including books under copyrighted, the OCA could educate the public about the benefits of relaxing the tightening grip of copyright and consenting to wider and easier access. If consenting publishers discover that free online full-text searching increases net sales (as the consenting publishers in Google's Publisher program are discovering), then more and more publishers should open their content to the OCA.
Open Content Alliance, home page
OCA call for participation
OCA press release
Open Library (home of OCA-scanned books)
Brewster Kahle's introduction to the OCA on the Yahoo Search Blog.
Brewster Kahle, The Open Library (Kahle's vision for OCA, deposited like a book in the Open Library)
* Here's some news coverage and comment on the OCA.
Barbara Quint, Open Content Alliance Expands Rapidly; Reveals Operational Details, Information Today, October 31, 2005.
Barbara Quint, Microsoft Launches Book Digitization Project --MSN Book Search, Information Today, October 31, 2005.
Todd Bishop, Surprise alliance for MSN book search prompts concern, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, October 31, 2005.
Chris O'Brien, He fights for open access to the world's digital library, Mercury News, October 30, 2005. A news profile of Brewster Kahle.
Chris O'Brien, Dedicating his career to open information, Mercury News, October 30, 2005. An interview with Brewster Kahle.
Walaika K. Haskins, Microsoft Writes a New Chapter with Online Book Search, Top Tech News, October 28, 2005.
On October 27, the Research Libraries Group (RLG) announced that it was joining the OCA.
Tara Calishain, Microsoft Jumps on the Book Indexing Bandwagon, ResearchBuzz, October 26, 2005.
Jeffrey Young, Microsoft, Joining Growing Digital-Library Effort, Will Pay for Scanning of 150,000 Books, Chronicle of Higher Education, October 27, 2005.
Stefanie Olsen, An open-source rival to Google's book project, News.com, October 26, 2005.
Eric Auchard, Microsoft joins Yahoo on digital library alliance, Reuters, October 26, 2005.
Gary Price, Microsoft Announces MSN Book Search; Joins Open Content Alliance, Search Engine Watch, October 25, 2005.
Elinor Mills, Microsoft to offer book search, News.com, October 25, 2005.
Katie Hafner, Microsoft to Offer Online Book-Content Searches, New York Times, October 25, 2005.
On October 25, Microsoft announced that it was joining the OCA.
Editorial: The not-so-Open Content Alliance, Varsity Online, October 24, 2005.
Rosalio Ahumada, UC Joins Digital Library, Merced Sun-Star, October 22, 2005.
Max Chafkin, Google Scrambles to Defend 'Google Print for Libraries' Initiative, The Book Standard, October 21, 2005.
Michael Bazeley, Consortium aims to digitize classic books, tech papers, Knight-Ridder, October 19, 2005.
Wade Roush, Wade Roush, Digitize This, MIT Technology Review, October 20, 2005.
Becky Hogge, Brewster Kahle, The New Statesman, October 17, 2005.
Scott Carlson and Jeffrey Young, Yahoo Works With Academic Libraries on a New Project to Digitize Books, Chronicle of Higher Education, October 14, 2005.
Max Chafkin, Yahoo Takes Friendly Approach to Book Digitization, Sidesteps Google Uproar, The Book Standard, October 06, 2005.
Preston Gralla, Yahoo Gets Book-Scanning Right...Almost, Networking Pipeline, October 5, 2005.
Andrew Orlowski, Yahoo! follows Google into print minefield, The Register, October 4, 2005.
Julie Strack, UC Will Put Vast Collection of American Literature Online, The Daily Californian, October 4, 2005.
The University of California issued a press release (October 3) on its participcation in the OCA.
Barbara Quint, Open Content Alliance Rises to the Challenge of Google Print, Information Today, October 3, 2005.
Scott Carlson and Jeffrey Young, Yahoo Works With 2 Academic Libraries and Other Archives on Project to Digitize Collections, Chronicle of Higher Education, October 3, 2005.
Tara Calishain, Yahoo Announces Open Content Alliance, ResearchBuzz, October 3, 2005.
Gary Price, A New Digital Library Alliance Makes its Debut, Search Engine Watch, October 3, 2005.
Katie Hefner, In Challenge to Google, Yahoo Will Scan Books, New York Times, October 3, 2005.
Michael Liedtke, Publishers say yahoo to online book plan, Associated Press, October 2, 2005.
Elinor Mills, Yahoo to digitize public domain books, News.com, October 2, 2005.
Robert Cringley interviewed Brewster Kahle for PBS's Nerd TV on September 27, 2005. View the video or read the transcript.
* Also see some of the links below on the publisher lawsuit against Google. Many of the articles covering the suit contrast Google's approach to copyright with the OCA's.
Interview with Cara Kaufman
Cara Kaufman and Alma Wills are the partners behind the Kaufman-Wills Group and the authors of the new study, The Facts About Open Access: A Study of the Financial and Non-Financial Effects of Alternative Business Models for Scholarly Journals. The study was sponsored by the ALPSP, AAAS, and Highwire Press and officially released on October 11.
Cara Kaufman is also my sister. If her report contained more good news for OA journals, then I'd be glad of her support. But because OA journals took some hits in her report, I can be glad of the evidence that she and I are independent. (Yes, I'm an optimist, and yes, we're on good terms.)
OA activists have criticized some of the methods and conclusions of the new Kaufman-Wills report, and I offered Cara a chance to respond to these criticisms in an email interview. I appreciate her willingness to do so.
For the interview, I drew criticisms of the report primarily from the following three sources, all posted to SOAF on October 14, 2005. When I quote Jan Velterop, Fred Friend, or BioMed Central during the interview, I'm quoting their SOAF "reviews".
From Jan Velterop, October 14, 2005 (Open Access Director at Springer, formerly publisher of BioMed Central)
From Fred Friend (JISC consultant and former director of scholarly communication at University College London)
From BioMed Central, October 14, 2005.
These three reviews raise objections that are civil and fact-based, and lend themselves to a civil and fact-based discussion of the issues that would benefit everyone. My interest is simply to get at the facts about open-access journals, just like the Kaufman-Wills Group, ALPSP, AAAS, and Highwire.
Cara asked me to include this opening statement: Before answering your questions, Peter, we want to thank you and SPARC for providing this forum for responding to questions raised about our study. We also want to thank those individuals who took the time to read the survey and ask questions, offer critiques, and provide alternate interpretations. It is very important to us that the work we do supports the broad dissemination of quality scholarly content. Our professional lives have been spent helping scholarly publishers achieve this goal. There are thoughtful, well-intentioned individuals on both sides of the Open Access "argument," if you will. The report's main objective was "to inform the Open Access discussion". Toward this aim, we welcome post-publication peer review. Although time may not always permit a direct response, we and I hope other interested groups will try to collect any and all ideas for the benefit of future research.
PS: Why the title, "The Facts About Open Access"? I'm sure that you, Alma Wills, and your sponsors are all aware that OA is much broader than OA journals and includes OA archives or repositories. Was there a reason not to make clear in the title that the study was limited to OA journals?
CK: No decision was made to exclude the phrase "Open Access Journals" in the title; the phrase "scholarly journals" appears in the sub-title of the report. When the survey was initiated in March 2004 --before the discussion about Open Access was publicly broadened to discussion of repositories by the NIH, the Wellcome Trust, and the RCUK--it was our impression that in most scholarly publishing circles the phrase "Open Access" was used more often in connection with journals than with archives or repositories. We did not anticipate any confusion.
PS: Fred Friend points out that "the 'online usage' statistics in Table 23 do not appear to have been adjusted to reflect the fact that DOAJ journals usually contain fewer articles, an adjustment which would give a fairer picture of the article download and full text page view situation." Do you agree?
CK: First, I should point out the "Special note" that appears on page 37 and cautions readers about the response error evident in the general characteristic questions dealing with manuscript statistics, circulation and usage, number of paid subscribers, and citations (tables 22-25). For these questions, the response rate was so low that the data cannot be regarded as statistically significant. Therefore, it is impossible to tell whether the results are or are not characteristic of the cohort as a whole. The question about usage was difficult to answer, as standardized usage stats such as those from COUNTER were not in widespread use. Also, to answer the question accurately, respondents had to know how to access and interpret certain usage statistics and then add together the usage statistics from all web sites containing their journals' articles --proprietary web sites, online hosts, third party licensors, institutional repositories, author web sites, and national archives.
By comparing usage by cohort, we hoped to measure the relative usefulness of each cohort's journals to scholars. Below table 23, we observed, "Of those journals responding, online usage among ALPSP non-profit, AAMC, and HW subset journals appeared to be much higher than ALPSP for profit and DOAJ journals." If the findings had been statistically significant, then it might be that Subscription Access and Delayed Open Access journals were of greater use to scholars than Full Open Access journals. If, over time, Full Open Access journal usage was found to be growing relative to Subscription Access journal usage, it might point to the growing prominence of Full Open Access journals. In our opinion, adjusting the data as Fred Friend suggests would help answer a different aspect of the usage question. If we could see that the per article usage was just as high for Full Open Access as for Delayed Open Access journals, for instance, we might conclude that each article was of equal use to end users. This would tell us something about the relative usefulness of each cohort's individual articles on average. We believe that comparing usage in either manner is useful and fair.
PS: Jan Velterop points out that "[t]he ALPSP, AAMC and HighWire journals considered are well established; on average, they published their first print issues 40 years ago. The DOAJ (Directory of Open Access Journals) titles are much newer; half started publication during the last decade. Might this mean that the comparison was not exactly 'like-for-like'?" Can you tell from your data, or can you estimate, how OA journals would stack up against subscription journals if you had compared journals of the same age?
CK: On page 7 of the published report, we write "The ALPSP, AAMC, and HW subset journals studied were well established; on average, they published their first print issues 40 years ago (table 16, page 33). Full Open Access journals were much newer; half started publication only in the last decade."
We agree with Jan Velterop that the comparison of cohorts was not necessarily "like-for-like". Indeed, we acknowledge the differences in cohorts throughout the report. On page 7, we add that "It is important to remember [Full Open Access journals'] relatively younger age when looking at factors such as manuscript submissions, number of articles published, impact, and distribution statistics." To moderate questions about viability raised in the report's Introduction, we pondered on page 24 whether the newness of DOAJ journals was a more significant factor in determining a journal's long-term viability than its business model.
At the same time, if we cannot talk about a cohort as a group for statistical purposes, then we cannot talk about the same group for the purposes of making other claims such as widespread roots and success. And, as others have pointed out, if these are early days (and they are), then just as it is too early to declare non-viability, then it is too early to declare success. Given the differences in terminology used to measure success by different journal groups, it was understandable why one group of journals' success ended up being measured by the standards of the other group. We hope that future studies will find ways to adjust for this.
It would be interesting to know, as you say, how OA journals would stack up against subscription journals if we had compared journals of the same age. The data from all the surveys were entered into the SPSS statistical software package, which does support cross tabs. If the sponsors would like to compare several journal characteristics looking only at each cohorts' journals established up to five or seven years ago, we could do so.
In the absence of data, you asked whether we could estimate how the younger journals in each cohort would compare. From our experience in launching new journals and our close study of various data elements from this study, we think that the majority of Full Open Access journals --those published by the smaller publishers-- still would differ in several regards from the comparably young journals from other cohorts studied. For one thing, we think that Full Open Access journals on the whole would be more likely to be published by an academic department or individual than younger journals in the other cohort. We might also find that Full Open Access journals overall would be more likely to be supported by volunteer labor and grants than other young journals in other cohorts. We think that the newer journals would be more likely to be Full Open Access, Delayed Open Access, or Optional Open Access than the more established journals --no matter the cohort. In short, we think that we would find that some differences are a function of age and some are not.
In completely separate research, we have heard from relatively small publishers that they have started new journals as Open Access and explain their decision by adding that they think the demand for publication by authors will be greater than the demand for subscriptions by readers. We also have talked with long-established small, niche journal publishers that have said they are transitioning from Subscription Access to Open Access because they are losing so many subscribers and need to find an alternate revenue stream. One more observation: in our years of journal acquisitions and development, we often have seen that new journals begin with one or two revenue streams, but those journals are most successful (in terms of readership, number of submissions, impact factor, financial stability, and years in existence) eventually are supported by multiple revenue streams with more than one revenue stream contributing a substantial portion of total revenues.
From the study (tables 29 and 30), we see that all journals get a proportion of their funds from some subset of these: advertisers, sponsors/foundations, research funders, authors (whether article payments or page/color charges), readers, and institutions (via subscriptions or memberships). It will be interesting to track how the proportions (we started looking at these in tables 31 and 32) change over time. In our opinion, it is logical that the successful strategies of either "camp" will be imitated by the other "camp"; for example, if memberships are a good idea for Open Access, then we will see them for traditionally non-Open Access journals as well. The idea that there will be an even greater merging of the various characteristics of various publishing models in the future seems likely. After all, both Subscription Access and Open Access journals were planning to test or adopt a different online business model in the near future (table 27).
PS: Jan Velterop observes that you cover full OA models to the exclusion of hybrid OA models which he believes are best suited for established journals. Can you comment on this decision and how it might have affected your results?
CK: Hybrid OA journals were not excluded. We purposely expanded the study to include additional cohorts to ensure that virtually every type of model was represented. As we said on page 3, "Initially Phase 1 of the survey was to be limited to journals offering different models of Open Access: for Full Open Access, those included the Directory of Open Access Journals and for Delayed Open Access, journals published on the HighWire Press platform." Especially to satisfy our questions about the prevalence and impact of various types of access and financial models, we added AAMC and ALPSP populations to embrace the broadest possible cross-section of journals.
Table 26 (page 40) shows access models by cohort. One of the options provided was "Most articles by subscription; free if author-side paid." For Phase 1, only one journal, a for-profit ALPSP member journal, responded. As you know, Optional Open Access is a relatively new but seemingly growing model. I would venture to say that it was even less common when the surveys were mailed. Either publishers with Hybrid Open Access journals did not respond to the survey, or their numbers (at the time) were such that their absolute response was minimal.
In phase 2, in-depth interviews with five publishers offering Optional Open Access were conducted and most of these were with established journals. This was done as we saw thought we saw a trend emerging and also to capture some of the commercial publishers and university press publishers that did not respond to the survey. Case study 9 (page 67) discusses a journal publisher's experimentation with Optional Open Access. Optional Open Access also is discussed in case studies 18 (page 83), 20 (page 88), 21 (page 89), and 22 (page 91).
PS: BioMed Central objects that the report "incorrectly states that BioMed Central does not operate external peer review on most of its journals. In fact, all of BioMed Central's journals operate full peer review using external peer reviewers." How do you respond? If you accept BMC's correction of your understanding of its peer review methods, how far does that cut against your conclusion that, in general, subscription journals use more rigorous forms of peer review than OA journals? This conclusion seems largely based on the way you interpret BMC journals. I quote the report at p. 25: "Although all cohorts reported submitting their original research articles to peer review, AAMC [Association of American Medical Colleges] and HW [HighWire] subset journals appeared to have the most rigorous peer review, as measured by their reliance on external reviewers. Full Open Access journals tended to depend heavily on editorial staff only for peer review; this practice was extremely uncommon among the other journal cohorts. When BMC and ISP journals were excluded, the peer review practices of the remaining Full Open Access journals were much more similar to those of the other journal populations."
CK: In post-publication interviews, we learned from BMC that it does "operate full peer review using external peer reviewers." In light of this, we revisited the data and prepared an addendum to the report <http://www.alpsp.org/publications/pub11.htm>, with additional and corrected findings and interpretation. A summary of the addendum follows:
All journal populations used some form of peer review. Full Open Access journals published by smaller publishers (not BMC or ISP) were less likely to rely on external peer review than were other cohorts. A greater percentage of Full Open Access journals than other journal populations studied offered post-publication peer review. Virtually none of the Subscription Access or Delayed Open Access subset journals relied solely on editorial staff for review. Of the Full Open Access journals responding to the survey, a greater percentage relied on editorial staff exclusively for peer review than any other cohort. When the data were analyzed more deeply, however, it became clear that the higher percentage was almost totally due to the response from one set of journals. Without ISP journals in the mix, the percentage of Full Open Access journals relying on editorial staff for peer review was not significantly different than any other cohort. If one takes the position that external peer review is more rigorous than review by editorial staff, then one might still conclude that those cohorts that relied more heavily on external peers exclusively had more rigorous peer review. This would mean that the AAMC and HW subset journals practiced more rigorous peer review. It is difficult to tell for sure, because there is no universally accepted definition of terms such as external reviewers and internal staff and no widespread agreement as to how the terms translate into rigor of review. Plus, such a large percentage of journals use a mix of internal and external peers and we know whether those journals relied more or less on internal reviewers. The journal's acceptance rate may also have an impact on how rigorous the journal's peer review appears. In other words, does a higher rejection rate necessarily signify more rigorous peer review? Perhaps peer review is a function of the journal's size, youth, or another characteristic. More research is needed.
PS: BMC also objects to the way the report classifies its journals. "The study groups BioMed Central together with Internet Scientific Publications (ISP) as a cohort, and indicates that this was done because over half of the responding open access journals were from these two publishers. ISP and BioMed Central have little in common as publishers, and so the conclusions drawn about BioMed Central by looking at this cohort are not meaningful and are often misleading. For example, the BioMed Central/ISP group of journals is reported to offer online manuscript submission on a lower percentage of journals than other journal groups. The report picks up on this as a surprising finding, suggesting implicitly that open access journals are lagging behind in this regard. In fact, BioMed Central offers online submission of manuscripts on every one of its journals. Not only that, but BioMed Central's manuscript submission system is widely praised by authors, many of whom tell us that it is the best online submission system they have used." Your response?
CK: The reason for reporting separate results for a subset of DOAJ journals was explained on page 27 of the study: "Note: Of the 248 DOAJ Full Open Access journals that responded, 60 were published by BioMed Central (BMC), sharing the same general editorial principles and access policies, and another 63 were published by Internet Scientific Publications (ISP), again with common principles and policies. This means that 123 of the 248 Full Open Access responses, or just fewer than 50%, were represented by two publishers. Findings are reported with and without data from these two large Full Open Access publishers --BMC and ISP. Without BMC and ISP data included, one can better understand those Full Open Access journals being published by other, typically smaller organizations."
The last line of this explanation is the reason the data were separated out. Although we can appreciate and are sympathetic to the problems that our groupings raised, we did not in fact lump BMC and ISP together in a cohort. What we did was show the data for all Full Open Access journal respondents and show data for all Full Open Access journal respondents excluding BMC and ISP.
When the data first were entered, we did not separate out BMC or ISP. We had not wanted to draw attention to any particular journal or journals. But presenting data for all DOAJ respondents also was imperfect. The combined data raised several questions, especially regarding financial support which was a major area of exploration. BMC and ISP journals not only represented 50% of the total respondents but their respective journals also shared certain characteristics. The fact that the 60 BMC journals were known to rely on author-side fees and the 63 ISP journals were known to rely on industry support, made it seem that DOAJ journals relied more heavily on author-side fees and industry than any other sources. By removing BMC and ISP responses from the data, we could show that the majority of (small-publisher) Full Open Access journal respondents did not rely on author-side fees. This was an interesting and surprising finding to many people.
If you refer to table 29 (page 43), you can see the frequent and wide variations in responses between the DOAJ and the DOAJ excluding BMC and ISP. We thought that it was worth reporting on both the total Full Open Access respondents and the subset of journals published by smaller organizations to expose how differently Full Open Access journals from smaller publishers behaved.
Regarding each cohort's offering of online manuscript submission, we reported on page 11 and in table 38 (page 50) that a larger percentage AAMC and Delayed Open Access journals offered online submission than Full Open Access journals. When counting only the Full Open Access journals from smaller publishers, the percentage of journals offering online article submission rise from 59% to 69%. Knowing what we know now about BMC, it is clear that ISP journals must not offer online article submission and weighted down the full DOAJ percentage. We did not report that a BMC/ISP group of journals offered online manuscript submission on a lower percentage of journals than other journal groups.
We did express surprise at this finding because Full Open Access journals are newer and overwhelmingly published online only. We would have expected Full Open Access journals to have among the highest if not the highest percentage of journals using online article submission. On page 11, we wrote it was surprising that only slightly more than half "offered" online manuscript submission." In the final editing of the report, the word "offered" was changed to "could handle."
PS: Your Table 30 shows that many more subscription journals charge author fees (such as page charges, color charges, and reprint fees) than OA journals. In fact, you show that a majority of non-OA ALPSP journals charge author fees (76%) while a majority of OA journals charge do not (53%). Two questions follow. First, when you point out that author-side fees are "less tried and true" than subscription fees (p. 24), are you saying that dependence on them is a factor in making a journal business model less viable? Second, when you point out that journals that "depend heavily on author charges" may create "some upward pressure on [their] acceptance rate" (p. 68), are you saying that this is a factor in making a journal's peer review process less rigorous?
CK: On page 24, drawing on data from tables 29 and 32, we summarized that "Full Open Access journals rely heavily on revenue streams such as grants, author-side fees, and institutional memberships along with a substantial amount of personal or departmental funding and volunteer labor." By calling this grouping of revenue sources "less tried and true than subscription and advertising revenue," we are not suggesting that dependence on them is a factor in making a journal business model less viable. The remarks were made under the heading "It is too early to tell whether Full Open Access is a viable business model." The conclusions were added in the last draft of the report to call attention to the relative youth of Open Access journals and the business models they represent and to moderate interpretations of the data. By talking about the revenue streams of many Full Open Access journals as being newer, we are trying to point out not that they are less viable but that they are unproven…as of yet, and so it is too early to tell.
On page 68, we have paraphrased the publishing professional interviewed for case study 9, who expressed to us his or her belief that "There may be some upward pressure on acceptance rate if Open Access publishers depend heavily on author charges." As disclosed in the report, this university press publisher relies mostly on paid subscriptions for revenues but is experimenting with Full Open Access for two journals and Optional Open Access for a third. I cannot know for sure whether this individual meant that that upward pressure on the acceptance rate made a journal's peer review process less rigorous. The publisher was offering an opinion in response to our request for predictions about the future. Each of the case studies concluded with perspectives and predictions either directly quoted or paraphrased by the interviewee.
PS: Jan Velterop observes that "[m]ost ALPSP journals made a surplus (75%). 41% of the full OA journals made a loss; 24% broke even, and 35% made a surplus. Might this mean that 1/4 of the long-established ALPSP journals still doesn't make a profit and that almost 60% of the new open access journals at least break even, and well over half of those are profitable?"
CK: Table 33 (page 46) shows, as you report above, that 41% of Full Open Access journals had a loss, 24% broke even, and 35% had a surplus. Saying as Jan Velterop did that almost 60% of Full Open Access journals were at least break even and noticing, as you have, that almost a quarter of ALPSP journals operated with a shortfall over last fiscal year is another valuable way of looking at the data. Following that train of thought, we can say that a much higher percentage of journals in other cohorts at least break even --78% of ALPSP, 94% of AAMC, and 91% of HW subset journals (compared with to 60% of the OA journal noted above). As suggested by Fred Friend and discussed earlier, it would be interesting to see whether the age of the journals is a greater determinant than business model as to a journal’s current financial success.
In fact it seems possible that the age of the journals may have been a significant factor in the financial health of both Full Open Access and ALPSP journals. When we revisit the study's frequency tables, we can see that 14% of the ALPSP journal respondents were from journals with start dates within the last five years. There are 12 new journals (2004 start dates) and a total of 17 (with start dates in the last five years) included in the ALPSP totals.
PS: You've summarized one conclusion of your report by saying, "It is too early to tell whether full open access is a viable business model" (p. 24). I have four questions about this conclusion. First, doesn't this way of putting it undercut your important showing that there are many business models for OA journals, not just one? For example, you show that, contrary to common belief, most OA journals do not charge author-side fees. If your conclusions apply to more than one business model, wouldn't it be better to say so than to suggest that there is just one OA business model?
CK: We agree with you that a major finding in the report is the wide range of business models in existence and that even more change is anticipated. One underlying objective of the study --as reflected in its subtitle of "a study of the financial and non-financial effects of alternative business models for scholarly publisher" was to determine what impact different business models had on various aspects of the journals studied. We looked at the data as a snapshot in time. Having said that, I acknowledge that we could have done a better job stepping back and reflecting on the data.
PS: Second, if it's too early to tell whether the business model of charging author-side fees is viable, is it also too early to tell whether it's *unviable*?
CK: I agree that it is too early to tell about the continued viability or unviability of any of the business models; in the same breath I would say that several data points support the idea that many FOA [full open-access] journals seem to be on uneven footing.
PS: Third, do we need more time to assess the viability of this business model because the data are scanty or because most OA journals are still very young and may stabilize their financial footing over time, for example, by establishing their reputations, improving their impact, and attracting authors? (BMC journals are just one set of OA journals that can show significant improvements in financial security over time.)
CK: We are unaware of data that show the aforementioned significant improvement in financial security over time. Also, the OA publishing models are new and we need more time to determine how age, access model, business model, or other variables play into the viability of Full Open Access journals.
If this is true --that it is too early to declare success OR failure-- then can we ask rhetorically why so many people are so sure at this stage that OA is a success, or a failure? A more constructive approach that has been suggested to us is to shift the discussion so we can figure out what and when increased-access models will thrive.
PS: Fourth, Mary Waltham's June 2005 study for JISC reported that among the society journals in her study, "[t]here is heavy reliance on institutional subscriptions which for all but one journal fell in number" during the three-year period 2002-2004 (p. 3). Fred Friend concludes from Waltham's study that "the current dependence upon institutional subscriptions cannot be relied upon to provide a secure future." Your study shows that "most journals surveyed are planning to test or adopt a different business model in the next three years" (p. 24 and Table 27). In light of Mary Waltham's findings and your own, can we conclude that it's too early to tell whether traditional subscription models will remain viable?
CK: We take your point. We can conclude (not necessarily from this study) but from experience in the field and the conclusions of other studies, that it is too early to tell whether traditional subscription models will remain as they are today. Many of the publishers studied were trying or planning on trying new models because of the interest in Open Access, not necessarily as a result of their own model's failing.
Certainly our professional experience is that there is continued downward pressure on subscription units. Small journals especially are being squeezed. According to HighWire, most of the journals they work with are seeing 3% - 5% attrition per year in institutional subscriptions by number, but NOT drops in readership --online journals are still growing 50%-100% per year in usage or subscription income. As shown in table 28 (page 42), Open Access proponents are influencing journal publishers to either test (11%-59%) or adopt (4%-9%) a new business model in the next three years. At the same time, many journals are experiencing increasing usage and increasing subscription revenues as mentioned above. Without taking into account information and trends noted outside the study, journals still steeped in traditional subscription models seemed to us remarkably healthy and optimistic about the future. Just as with Full Open Access journals, it is too early to tell about the viability of the Subscription Access model.
We should also mention that the subscription-based business model has undergone tremendous change in recent years as publishers attempt to respond to changing needs and wants of the marketplace. Fred Friends' comments indicate that he is not optimistic about the industry's ability to evolve and adapt. It seems to us too early to take that position.
PS: BioMed Central draws on your data to suggest that the future may be brighter for OA journals than for conventional ones: "92% of open access journals were meeting or exceeding revenue expectations, in comparison to 91% of AAMC journals, 83% of ALPSP journals and 76% of surveyed HighWire journals. Similarly, the study finds that revenues from the last fiscal year to the current fiscal year are 'trending upward' for 71% of 209 surveyed open-access journals, compared to between 27% and 67% of subscription-based publishers that were surveyed." Your response?
CK: These additional readings of the data are useful to consider. To draw conclusions, we tended to look at the responses each cohort had to the set of questions about current financial health, trends, and expectations. In most cases, journals other than the Full Open Access journals responded most positively...at the top of the charts. They had the greatest percentage surplus, which is needed by any enterprise to sustain growth. They also had the highest percentage of journals whose revenues exceeded or far exceeded expectations. The bulleted points (pages 46- 47) highlight these data as well. The other issue is absolute dollar revenue. Many of the small OA journals had zero costs and small revenue. The study did not address dollar volume, just the journal's expectations. The fact that a greater percentage of Full Open Access journals than other journal cohorts reported upward revenue trends is positive for Full Open Access journals and indicates that they are in a growth mode. As can be seen by the data, however, this upward trend is mobilized by BMC and ISP journals. Full Open Access journals from smaller publishers had the highest percentage of journals whose revenues trended downward.
Positive revenue surplus and revenue expectations with more static revenue trends also can be explained by the product life cycle and a publisher's experience with a particular journal --again, reflecting the more established age of most of the cohorts and the younger age of the Full Open Access journals. Also, the idea the Full Open Access journals report that they are breaking even has to be viewed in light of the comments from so many Open Access journals, often run by editors, asking what's a business model and or supported by volunteers, departments, or individuals.
The Facts About Open Access, full report, October 11, 2005
Post-publication addendum to The Facts About Open Access, October 24, 2005.
Report overview (first 32 pages)
ALPSP press release
* Here's some news coverage of the report:
Sophie Rovner, Status Report On Open Access, Chemical & Engineering News, October 17, 2005.
Open-Access-Journale mit Startschwierigkeiten, Web-o-rama, October 14, 2005.
Randy Dotinga, Open-Access Journals Abound, But Will They Survive? Forbes, October 13, 2004.
Astara March, Open Access Journals Struggling, UPI, October 13, 2005
Lila Guterman, Survey of Open-Access and Subscriber-Based Journals Finds Changes Afoot in Both Business Models, Chronicle of Higher Education, October 12, 2005.
Open Access publishing 'unprofitable', The Bookseller, October 12, 2005.
Stephen Pincock, Open access report published, The Scientist, October 11, 2005.
Top stories from October 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 October:
* A new CIBER study finds increased momentum for OA.
* The Adelphi Charter articulates a positive vision of intellectual property and OA.
* Canadian Science Advisor strongly endorses OA.
* The draft RCUK policy continues to generate news and comment.
* The hybrid OA model expands and improves.
* Publishers join authors in suing Google to stop Google Library.
* A new CIBER study finds increased momentum for OA.
A new study of author attitudes toward OA, by Ian Rowlands and Dave Nichols of London's Centre for Information Behaviour and the Evaluation of Research (CIBER), shows significant increases in both knowledge and action since last year.
With regard to open access two significant shifts appear to have occurred since the last survey [PS: in March 2004]. Firstly, the research community is now much more aware of the open access issue. There has been a large rise in authors knowing quite a lot about open access (up 10 percentage points from the 2004 figure) and a big fall in authors knowing nothing at all about open access (down 25 points). Secondly, the proportion of authors publishing in an open access journal has grown considerably from 11 per cent (2004) to 29 per cent....Authors strongly believe that, as a result of open access, articles will become more accessible and, somewhat less strongly, that budgetary pressures on libraries would ease as a result. They do not believe, however, that quality will improve....A clear majority of authors believes that mass migration to open access would undermine scholarly publishing. Of those who expressed an opinion, half believed this was likely; however, a good proportion of these people thought this would probably be a good thing so there is evidence of considerable dissatisfaction with the status quo....
Not all the news is good. The study shows that knowledge of OA archiving is increasing at a much slower rate than knowledge of OA journals.
Ian Rowlands and Dave Nichols, New Journal Publishing Models: An International Survey of Senior Researchers, CIBER (Centre for Information Behaviour and the Evaluation of Research), September 22, 2005.
BioMed Central issued a press release on October 31 to draw attention to the CIBER results.
* The Adelphi Charter articulates a positive vision of intellectual property and OA.
On October 13, the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) published the Adelphi Charter on Creativity, Innovation and Intellectual Property. It's not the first attempt to go beyond criticism of retrograde copyright and patent developments to a positive vision of intellectual property for the digital age. But it's the most sophisticated to date. And it specifically endorses open access.
The relevant OA principle is number 7: "Government must facilitate a wide range of policies to stimulate access and innovation,including non-proprietary models such as open source software licensing and open access to scientific literature."
The Adelphi Charter is much wider than OA and puts OA into a family of issues that includes open-source software, the non-copyrightability of facts, and the non-patentability of mathematical models or business processes. It's an expression of the emerging unification of information-freedom issues, just as the environmental movement emerged from separate initiatives to protect air, water, and wildlife. The closest thing to it in our history is the WSIS Declaration of Principles from December 2003.
Adelphi Charter on Creativity, Innovation and Intellectual Property, home page
Adelphi Charter text
Adelphi Charter, FAQ
A German translation from netzpolitik.org
Here's some news coverage of the charter:
Iain Thomson, Heavyweights call for patent reform, VNUNet, October 17, 2005.
Bill Thompson, Copyright for the digital age, BBC News, October 17, 2005.
Cory Doctorow, How should govt's weigh new copyright proposals? BoingBoing, October 17, 2005. Doctorow was one of the drafters.
Donna Wentworth, A Charter for the Future of Intellectual Property, Copyfight, October 16, 2005.
A Slashdot discussion thread on the Adelphi Charter was launched on October 16, 2005.
John Naughton, The Adelphi Charter, Memex 1.1, October 14, 2005. Naughton was one of the drafters.
James Boyle, Protecting the public domain, The Guardian, October 14, 2005. Boyle was one of the drafters.
Free Ideas, The Economist, October 13, 2005. An unsigned editorial.
* The draft RCUK policy continues to generate news and comment.
The UK House of Commons Science and Technology Committee held a hearing on October 19 in which Lord Sainsbury of Turville testified on open access and the draft RCUK policy, among other topics. Lord Sainsbury is the UK Science and Innovation Minister. In his testimony he spoke as though the draft RCUK policy made OA journals primary and OA repositories secondary, rather than the other way around. This is the same misunderstanding made by the UK government one year ago this month when it rejected the OA recommendations from the House of Commons committee before which Sainsbury was testifying. In the past year this misunderstanding has frequently been corrected by journalists, OA activists, and the House of Commons itself. Lord Sainsbury also claimed that there has been an peak in the enthusiasm for OA, another sign that he's been listening to publisher lobbyists more than OA proponents themselves.
Transcript of Lord Sainsbury's testimony.
On October 27, BioMed Central issued an open letter in response to Lord Sainsbury's comments.
On November 2, Barbara Kirsop issued another open letter in response to Lord Sainsbury's comments.
The two items below pre-date October but were publicly released or disclosed in October:
Around October 13, the British Academy publicly released its August comment on the draft RCUK open-access policy.
Around October 7, the ALPSP publicly revealed that had met on September 16 with representatives of the RCUK to discuss publisher objections to the draft OA policy. The ALPSP reports that the RCUK will not close the "copyright loophole" in the current draft, which allows publishers to impose embargoes.
* Canadian Science Advisor strongly endorses open access.
Arthur Carty published a remarkable defense of open access in the November issue of University Affairs. What's remarkable is not the vision, which is similar to what many OA activists have been saying for years, but the fact that Carty is the National Science Advisor of Canada. His vision hasn't yet translated into policy, but it's the strongest statement I've seen by any nation's top science advisor. Canada is fortunate to have him and other national science advisors should pay attention to what he is saying.
With [the] type of system [I envision,] a researcher could access, from any corner of the globe, the full texts of relevant journal articles; a comprehensive set of monographs and theses; research data sets that underlie published outcomes; research reports and non-peer-reviewed research materials from both academia and government; and the electronic tools necessary to manage this volume of material. Creating a system with these attributes is no longer just a question of developing appropriate technologies; for the most part these already exist. Rather, it's a matter of building, integrating and improving the technical infrastructure, operational standards, research support systems, regulations and institutional roles and responsibilities. It's also a matter of nurturing a culture of open access and sharing, beyond what researchers have ever embraced. Canada is fortunate to have a number of key building blocks in place to facilitate the development of such a system. These include a network of institutional repositories at 26 university research libraries....Building an effective global information system consists both of this infrastructure and perhaps more importantly a culture of open access and sharing....We have to find ways to motivate researchers in all countries to preserve and exchange their research data, to publish their findings in open access journals and to deposit their published articles in institutional repositories....Institutions, too, need to know that their investments in expanding and improving the quality of their data archives and open-access repositories are recognized as measurable scientific outputs.
Arthur Carty, A global information system needs a culture of sharing, University Affairs, November 2005. Carty is the Canadian National Science Advisor.
* The hybrid OA model expands and improves.
Three developments on this business model from three publishers in one month counts as a flurry of activity.
Springer improved the terms of its Open Choice program by allowing open-choice authors to retain copyright and by releasing open-choice articles under a license which Springer says is identical to the Creative Commons Attribution-NoCommercial license. (PS: Congratulations to Jan Velterop who, I presume, was behind these changes.)
The Author Select program at the American Institute of Physics, launched a year ago this month, published its first OA article in October.
The Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy has adopted the hybrid or author-choice OA model. Unfortunately, the editorial describing the change is not itself OA.
* Publishers join authors in suing Google to stop Google Library.
Five publishers represented by the Association of American Publishers (AAP) sued Google to stop it from scanning copyrighted books from libraries without prior permission. Unlike the suit by the Authors Guild, the publishers are not seeking damages, merely an end to what they consider to be infringement. Each of the five publisher-plaintiffs trying to halt the opt-out Google Library project is a willing participant in the opt-in Google Publisher program.
In August, Google voluntarily stopped scanning copyrighted books in order to discuss the issues with authors and publishers. But despite the two lawsuits, it resumed book-scanning yesterday. In an official statement, it said it would start with older books, which are most likely to be in the public domain, and then move on to newer books. Some observers are taking this as a concession to author and publisher critics. To me, it's just as likely to be an attempt to minimize risk until the legal question can be decided in court.
In the press release announcing their lawsuit, the publishers mention the possibility that Google's book-scanning may benefit them, and they don't mention any harm that it could do them. The authors' press release, by contrast, was silent about both benefit and harm. The authors left it unclear whether they wanted control, even at the expense of new sales, or a cut of Google's revenue, even on top of new sales. But by refusing to seek damages, the publishers seem to be interested only in control --even at the expense of new sales.
Most of the legal issues in the publisher suit are the same as in the author suit, and I stand by my analysis from last month.
All I want to add now is this thought experiment. What would have happened if Google had paid dearly for permission to scan 100,000 copyrighted books, added the texts to its search index, showed nothing but snippets to searchers, worked with the publishers to document the effect on sales, publicly reported the results, and then *charged a fee* to index any other books? My prediction: most publishers would eagerly line up to pay the fee and most authors would demand that they do so.
I'm still convinced that Google's indexing will stimulate a net increase in sales. Since "the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work" is part of the statutory test of fair use in this country (17 USC 107), Google will undoubtedly present its evidence in court. I look forward to seeing it fully documented. If free online access to fair-use snippets really does decrease sales, it is either for books organized into useful snippets (reference books, cookbooks) or for books whose snippets turn off potential readers. As a book author myself, I'm very willing to gamble that exposure will increase sales.
Finally, Google had to watch the launch of the Open Content Alliance, which will only scan copyrighted books with the permission of the copyright holder. Most press coverage contrasted the OCA project with the Google project. Google has even been invited to join the OCA but so far is reserving its decision. (See the top story above for more detail.)
* Here's some news and comment on the publishers' lawsuit.
Graeme Philipson, Tim O'Reilly fires a broadside against 'piracy', The Age, November 1, 2005.
On October 24, the Soft Skull Press, a small publisher and member of the AAP, has released an open letter to the AAP explaining why it cannot agree with its position on Google Library.
Dan Thies, Danny Sullivan on Google Print, Sitepoint, October 23, 2005.
Danny Sullivan, Indexing Versus Caching & How Google Print Doesn't Reprint, Search Engine Watch, October 21, 2005.
Kevin Werbach, Breaking Apart at the Seams, Werblog, October 20, 2005.
Ben Vershbow, google is sued... again, if:book, October 20, 2005.
Victor Keegan, A bookworm's delight, The Guardian, October 21, 2005.
John Battelle, The AAP/Google Lawsuit: Much More At Stake, Searchblog, October 20, 2005.
A Slashdot discussion thread on the publisher suit was launched on October 20, 2005.
Burt Helm, Google's Escalating Book Battle, Business Week, October 20, 2005.
Hiawatha Bray, Publishers battle Google book index, Boston Globe, October 20, 2005.
Scott Carlson, 5 Big Publishing Houses Sue Google to Prevent Scanning of Copyrighted Works, Chronicle of Higher Education, October 20, 2005.
Susan Kuchinskas, Google Print Hits The Fan, InternetNews.com, October 19, 2005.
John Battelle, Here We Go Again: Publishers Sue Google, Searchblog, October 19, 2005.
Michael Moskowitz, Go Google! Good riddance publishers! Another contribution to the EPS debate on Google Print, October 18, 2005.
Publishers concerned that Google project violates copyright, an unsigned press release from Penn State University, n.d.
Joanna Glasner, Writers Side With Google in Scrap, Wired News, October 25, 2005.
Publishers' complaint in Federal District Court, Southern District of NY, October 19, 2005.
Google's first public response to the AAP lawsuit was a note on the Google blog by David Drummond, Google's General Counsel and VP for Corporate Development, October 19, 2005.
The AAP announced its suit against Google in a press release dated October 19, 2005.
Brad Hill, Publisher Bails from Google Print In Protest, The Unofficial Google Weblog, October 6, 2005.
Danny Sullivan, Why Don't Book Publishers Object To Web Indexing? Search Engine Watch, August 30, 2005. An interview with ALPSP's Sally Morris.
* Here's some October coverage of the authors' lawsuit.
Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Bride of Google -- Evaluating suitor's character by how he courts, San Francisco Chronicle, October 27, 2005.
Mary Sue Coleman, Riches We Must Share..., Washington Post, October 22, 2005. Coleman is the President of the University of Michigan, which is letting Google scan all seven million volumes in its library, including books under copyright. Paired in a debate with the Nick Taylor piece, below.
Nick Taylor, ...But Not at Writers' Expense, Washington Post, October 22, 2005. Taylor is the President of the Authors Guild. Paired in a debate with the Mary Sue Coleman piece, above.
Jason Kottke, Book author to her publishing company: your lawsuit is not helping me or my book, Kottke.org, October 20, 2005. On Meghann Marco's complaint that Simon & Schuster will not let Google scan her book.
Nancy Gohring, Europe's authors still resist Google Print, Digit, October 20, 2005.
Nancy Gohring and China Martens, International authors resist Google online-library plan, Macworld, October 20, 2005.
Jonathan Band, The Authors Guild v. The Google Print Library Project, LLRX.com, October 15, 2005.
Jason Fry, Authors' Second Chance, Wall Street Journal, October 10, 2005.
Bill Thompson, Defending Google's licence to print, BBC News, October 10, 2005.
Vincent Kiernan, Academic Press and Prolific Author Tell Google to Remove Their Books From Its Scanning Project, Chronicle of Higher Education, October 7, 2005.
Barbara Quint, The Other Shoe Drops: Google Print Sued for Copyright Violation, Information Today, October 3, 2005.
AAP press release, October 19, 2005.
* Here's some October coverage of both lawsuits or neither.
On October 31, Google announced through its blog that it would resume scanning library books on November 1.
Tim Lee, What's So Eminent About Public Domain? Reason Online, October 31, 2005.
Lawrence Lessig, Google's Tough Call, Wired Magazine, November 2005.
Siva Vaidhyanathan, Derek responds on Google: 'not a library, but so what?' October 27, 2005.
Ben Charny, Google Won't Shelve Google Print, PC Magazine, October 28, 2005.
Denise Howell, Search Or Seizure? Bag and Baggage, October 26, 2005.
On October 25 the National Consumer League issued a press release and two open letters to Congress condeming the Google Library project.
Charles W. Bailey, Jr., The Google Print Controversy: A Bibliography, DigitalKoans, October 25, 2005.
Kevin Drum, Google vs. the World, Washington Monthly, October 22, 2005.
Tom Turvey, On Google Print: Don't Fear the Web, The Book Standard, October 21, 2005.
Dana Blankenhorn, Economic Lesson of Google Print, Corante, October 21, 2005.
Alexander Wolfe, Google Not Straight About Book Search, or 44 Pages in 5 Minutes, Wolfe Platform Blog, October 21, 2005.
On October 20, 2005, the International Publishers Association (IPA) and PEN USA issued a joint declaration condeming Google Library.
Klaus Graf, How Google Print is Blocking Not-US-Citizens, Archivalia, October 19, 2005.
Eric Schmidt, The Book of Revelation, Wall Street Journal, October 18, 2005.
Anon., Google Print Expands in Europe, Red Herring, October 18, 2005.
Edward Wyatt, Google Opens 8 Sites in Europe, Widening Its Book Search Effort, New York Times, October 18, 2005.
Mark Beunderman, Google opens digital library ahead of EU governments, EU Observer, October 18, 2005.
Bobby Pickering, Google clarifies Print differences in Europe, Information World Review, October 18, 2005.
Jonathan Band, The Google Print Library Project: A Copyright Analysis, ARL Bimonthly Report 242, October 2005. A published version of Band's defense of Google Library first posted online in September.
Tim Wu, Leggo My Ego, Slate, October 17, 2005. A defense of Google Library by a law professor at the University of Virginia.
Google launched a Librarian Center to help librarians "keep up to date with Google".
Karen Christensen, Google and the library, another installment in the EPS debate on Google Print, October 4, 2005.
Public Interest Watch, Censorship By Google Threatens to Derail Library Project, a press release, October 3, 2005.
Barbara Quint, Apology, Searcher, October 4, 2005.
* Here's' some coverage the German response to Google Print.
Anon., German authors join protest against Google Print, Financial Mirror (Cyprus), October 28, 2005.
John Blossom, Fair Game: German and American Book Publishers Wrestle with Google Print, Shore Communications Commentary, October 24, 2005.
Steve Malone, German publishers set up rival to Google Print, PC Pro, October 25, 2005.
Georgina Prodhan, German publishers to build own online book network, Reuters, October 23, 2005.
Deutsche Welle staff, German Publishers Warm to Google Library, Deutsche Welle, October 20, 2005.
* Here's some October coverage of Google Scholar.
Péter Jacsó, Google Scholar and The Scientist, Jacsó Extra, October 25, 2005. Showing that "Google Scholar does a really horrible job matching cited and citing references."
Lois E. Smith, Google Scholar Open House, SSP News and Views, October 2, 2005.
Coming up later this month
* Notable conferences in November
Making Knowledge Visible: priorities & directions in information publishing (a public talk by Liz Orna)
London, November 1, 2005
Knowledge eXtended: Die Kooperation von Wissenschaftlern, Bibliothekaren und IT-Spezialisten (OA is among the topics)
Jülich, November 2-4, 2005
XXV Annual Charleston Conference (OA and IRs are among the topics)
Charlotte, November 2-5, 2005
Institutional Repositories: Opportunity or Threat (a seminar sponsored by the SSPP
Washington, D.C., November 7, 2005
INASP Symposium 2005: Discovery and Effective Use of Scientific and Scholarly Information
Oxford, November 9, 2005
E-book: the new serial? (sponsored by the UKSG)
London, November 9, 2005
Libraries: The Information Society in Action (A WSIS Pre-Summit Conference) (OA is among the topics)
Alexandria, November 10-11, 2005
Scientific Publishing: What Does the Future Hold? (OA is among the topics)
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, November 12, 2005
Past, Present, and Future of Research in the Information Society ("A satellite event preceding Phase II of the WSIS" --see WSIS entry below)
Tunis, November 13-15, 2005
Communicating European Research 2005
Brussels, November 14-15, 2005
World Summit on the Information Society, Second Phase
Tunis, November 16-18, 2005
Shaping the Future through Knowledge ("enhanced access to knowledge" is among the topics)
Tunis, November 17, 2005
Ensuring Long-term Preservation and Adding Value to Scientific and Technical data
Edinburgh, November 21-23, 2005
Institutional Repository Workshop (sponsored by the National Library of New Zealand) (OA is among the topics)
Wellington, November 23, 2005
Library politics in Italy (52nd National Conference of the Associazione Italiana Biblioteche) (OA is among the topics)
Rome, November 23-25, 2005
E-Science? Die Bedeutung des Computers für die Produktion, Vermittlung, Verbreitung und Bewertung wissenschaftlicher Erkenntnisse
Berlin, November 25-26, 2005
Advocacy for Access to Information: copyright & related issues (sponsored by eIFL)
Kampala, November 26, 2005
Australian Research Online: A CAUL Forum on Research Repositories
Melbourne, November 28, 2005
Preprint and postprint repositories and their impact on publishing (sponsored by ALPSP and SSP)
London, November 28, 2005
Africa Copyright Conference Forum: Copyright and Access to Information
Kampala, November 28-30, 2005
Online Information 2005
London, November 29 - December 1, 2005
* Other OA-related conferences
* I've added 16 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.
* Since October 19, I've had a note in the blog sidebar asking readers for feedback on my recent practice to use longer excerpts from published articles. Do you welcome them or should I return to shorter excerpts? I'll keep the note in the sidebar a little longer in case anyone else has a comment. So far the responses are running about 4:1 in favor of the longer excerpts.
* Scott Burns at Public Knowledge has just fixed a mysterious and annoying problem that plagued the Open Access News blog ever since I added RSS feeds more than two years ago. Basically the permalinks on the web edition of the blog didn't match the permalinks in feeds. When feed users clicked on the permalink to a posting, they were taken to the right page of the blog archive, but they were left at the top of the page when they should have been taken directly to the right posting. (Don't ask how this bug arose.) Now permalinks in feeds work exactly as they should. Thank you, Scott!
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