Welcome to the SPARC Open Access Newsletter, issue #92
December 2, 2005

Read this issue online

Strengthening the NIH policy

If you remember, publisher lobbying weakened the NIH public-access policy before the final version took effect on May 2, 2005.  Among the many concessions the NIH made to publishers, the two most harmful were (1) to request rather than require free online access to the results of NIH-funded research and (2) to permit delays of up to 12 months after publication.  The first weakness makes the second one even worse than it may appear.  Because there's no deposit requirement, the 12 month figure is just another request, not a firm deadline.  There's nothing to stop NIH grantees, under pressure from their publishers, from waiting more than a year before submitting their work to the NIH or authorizing public access to it.

Ever since the policy took effect, friends of OA have been building bipartisan support in Congress to roll-back these concessions and strengthen the policy.  These efforts have been led by the Alliance for Taxpayer Access (ATA), the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC), and the Open Access Working Group (OAWG).  It's no secret that I'm one among many others who have been working toward this end.

When the NIH adopted its policy, it appointed a Public Access Working Group (PAWG) to advise it on how to implement and improve the policy.  When I first heard that the NIH would appoint such a group, I wrote (SOAN for 3/2/05):  "This sounds like a good idea, but I worry.  If the advisory group is not balanced, it will be criticized.  If it is balanced, it could be paralyzed."  If you look at the working group membership, you'll see that it contains a balance of stakeholders, some associated with support for OA and some associated with opposition to it. 

For all these reasons, I'm delighted to report that the PAWG has recommended strengthening the NIH policy by rolling back both of the most harmful concessions to publishers.  At its November 15 meeting, the group voted to convert the request into a requirement and to put a firm upper limit of six months on any delays or embargoes.  (I'm glad to admit that I was wrong about PAWG paralysis.)

A few notes:

* When the House of Representatives first asked the NIH to develop a public-access policy, the House wanted a requirement and a firm six month deadline.  The NIH policy never lived up to the Congressional directive in these two respects.  The PAWG recommendation is not about making radical policy more radical.  It's about making a weak policy strong and bringing it back into line with the intent of Congress.  (Remember this when publishers complain.)

* The PAWG is merely advisory and there's no guarantee that the NIH will adopt its recommendation.  But its advice will carry weight inside the NIH.  And if the NIH doesn't act, then PAWG's recommendation will carry weight with Congress. 

* Elias Zerhouni, Director of the NIH, justified the weakening of the policy at the time because the publisher concessions created "maximum flexibility for maximum participation".  You might have thought that the agency could best maximize participation by mandating it, not by making it discretionary.  But in any case, the data since the policy took effect show miserably low rates of participation, and the PAWG was clearly moved by this evidence.  If 100% of NIH grantees complied with the public-access request, then they would submit about 5,500 peer-reviewed manuscripts to the agency *every month*.  (This gives some idea of the true magnitude of NIH funding.) 

The NIH publishes monthly bar charts of the compliance rate, but users have to eyeball the bars, estimate the numbers they represent, and add up the daily totals to get the monthly totals.  In late October, Art Brodsky at Public Knowledge got the actual monthly figures:  May, 401; June, 386; July, 553; August, 268; September, 270.  If you want percentages, the compliance rate has been hovering between 5% and 10% of "maximum participation".

* While the NIH policy allows embargoes up to 12 months and beyond, it "strongly encourages" grantees to deposit their work and authorize public access "as soon as possible" after publication.  The agency hoped that its encouragement and exhortation would bring about early compliance.  The evidence shows that it doesn't. 

A deadline will help, but in my view six months is too long.  Moreover, the NIH's own exhortation for immediate access suggests that it agrees.  The public interest in accelerating research requires sharing research results as soon as possible after they are ready to make public.  Even the six month embargo originally permitted by Congress was a compromise with the public interest.  (Remember this when publishers complain.)

I've often said that I prefer no embargoes or minimal embargoes, but would accept a short embargo if it's politically necessary in order adopt a policy with other virtues.  I stand by that and can live with a six month embargo.   Six months is better than 12, even though 0, 1, 2 and 3 are better than six.  In addition, a firm upper limit is better than a fuzzy one that invites publishers to impose embargoes of arbitrary length.

If the NIH adopts the PAWG recommendation, I have no doubt that it will continue to exhort minimal embargoes (deposit and access "as soon as possible" after publication), just as I have no doubt that most publishers of NIH-funded authors will continue to demand maximum embargoes (now six rather than 12 months).  I have no problem with different stakeholders pulling in different directions along the continuum of delay.  But because most publishers have shown that they will take whatever they can get, there has to be a firm deadline somewhere along the line.  I hope the NIH will adopt the six month limit stipulated by Congress and recommended by the PAWG and then, over time, shorten it as evidence mounts that early access is as important as open access in realizing the benefits of research.

NIH public access policy

NIH Public Access Working Group (PAWG)

NIH public access policy, data on the rate of compliance

Art Brodsky's more detailed numbers on the rate of compliance

Evidence that most publishers will impose the longest embargoes the policy will allow
http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/newsletter/06-02-05.htm#nih  (June 2005)
http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/newsletter/07-02-05.htm#nih  (July 2005)

Alliance for Taxpayer Access (ATA)

ATA press release on the PAWG recommendation, November 22, 2005

NIH Public Access Policy Should Be Mandatory, Advisors Recommend, Health News Daily, November 17, 2005.  (Accessible only to subscribers.)

* Postscript.  You may have read that the DC Principles Coalition (DCPC), which opposes OA and the NIH public-access policy, has proposed that the NIH link to articles at publisher web sites rather than host its own copies in PubMed Central.  You may also have read that David Lipman, Director of the National Center for Biotechnology and Information (NCBI), which oversees the NIH's PubMed and PubMed Central, made favorable comments on some aspects the DCPC proposal.  But don't conclude that Lipman or the NIH accepts the DCPC proposal.  The DCPC wants the NIH to use links *instead of* copies, and the NCBI and PMC are happy to use links *in addition to* copies.  The NIH is not about to back down from its position that it ought to host its own free online copies of articles resulting from NIH-funded research.

DC Principles Coalition press release making the proposal public, October 25, 2005

DC Principles Coalition letter to Elias Zerhouni making the same proposal, October 17, 2005

DC  Principles Coalition

Here's some news coverage of the DCPC proposal:

Anon., Nonprofit Publishers Offer Public Access Plan, Library Journal, November 23, 2005.

On November 15, the DC Principles Coalition publicly released its November 7 response to Elias Zerhoni, Director of the NIH.

SPARC Director Heather Joseph commented on the DC Principles Coalition proposal in Library Journal Academic Newswire for November 3, 2005.

Astara March, Journals offer NIH wider research access, UPI, October 29, 2005.  This article quotes David Lipman's comments.


Open access news from WSIS

Phase 2 of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) was held in Tunis, November 16-18, 2005. The bad news is that its final documents don't even mention open access. The good news is that they explicitly reaffirm the documents from Phase 1.

Phase 1 was held in Geneva in December of 2003 and resulted in two documents that explicitly endorsed open access: the Declaration of Principles (see Paragraph 28) and the Plan of Action (see Paragraphs C3.i and C7.b).

The primary document from WSIS 2 is the Tunis Commitment (November 18, 2005). Here are its OA-related passages:

<quoting the Tunis Commitment>

1. We, the representatives of the peoples of the world, have gathered in Tunis from 16-18 November 2005 for this second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) to reiterate our unequivocal support for the Geneva Declaration of Principles and Plan of Action adopted at the first phase of the World Summit on the Information Society in Geneva in December 2003.

2. We reaffirm our desire and commitment to build a people-centred, inclusive and development-oriented Information Society, premised on the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, international law and multilateralism, and respecting fully and upholding the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, so that people everywhere can create, access, utilise and share information and knowledge....

9. We reaffirm our resolution in the quest to ensure that everyone can benefit from the opportunities that ICTs can offer, by recalling that governments, as well as private sector, civil society and the United Nations and other international organisations, should work together to: improve access to information and communication infrastructure and technologies as well as to information and knowledge....We confirm that these are the key principles for building an inclusive Information Society, the elaboration of which is found in the Geneva Declaration of Principles.

10. We recognise that access to information and sharing and creation of knowledge contributes significantly to strengthening economic, social and cultural development....

27. We recognise that equitable and sustainable access to information requires the implementation of strategies for the long-term preservation of the digital information that is being created.

28. We reaffirm our desire to build ICT networks and develop applications, in partnership with the private sector, based on open or interoperable standards that are affordable and accessible to all, available anywhere and anytime, to anyone and on any device, leading to a ubiquitous network.

</quoting the Tunis Commitment>

WSIS home page

WSIS Phase 2 Final Documents

WSIS, Tunis Commitment

WSIS Phase 1  Declaration of Principles and the Plan of Action

There was a lot of activity at WSIS and it's very hard to identify all the OA-related initiatives and discussions.  Here's my best shot at a list.  I'd like to hear from anyone who can point out items I've missed.

H.E. Adama Samassekou, President of the African Academy of Languages, President of the WSIS PrepCom of the Geneva Phase, and Former Minister of Education of Mali, endorsed OA in his speech at the CODATA Special Session on WSIS.

Former UNESCO Assistant Director-General Henrikas Ioushikavitshius argued in his WSIS speech that freedom of access to information is inseparable from freedom of expression.

UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura supported OA in his speech at WSIS.

CERN Director-General Robert Aymar supported OA in his speech at WSIS.

CODATA proposed the Global Information Commons for Science Initiative back in September and said it would refine the proposal in light of comments up to the November WSIS meeting.  Does anyone know whether it was modified?

The International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR) proposed an International Researchers' Charter (September 30, 2005) for adoption at the November WSIS meeting in Tunis.  Does anyone know what happened to it?

Open Educational Resources is a comprehensive new portal of open courseware and OA resources for teaching and learning. It's searchable, of course, and browseable by subject, genre, medium, and many other parameters.  It was launched at WSIS.

Also see MIT's November 21 press release on Open Educational Resources.
...and John Blau, Open content opens doors to opportunity, InfoWorld, November 22, 2005.


Can search tame the wild web?  Can open access help?

Which is growing faster, the size of the web or the power of search engines?  No one knows, but it matters for all of us.  If the power of search is growing faster, then it will eventually overtake the web's wildness and tame it --all of it.  If the web is growing faster, then it will forever outpace our attempts to map, navigate, explore, and understand it.

The problem reminds me of the critical density of the universe.  If there is enough matter in the universe, then gravitational attraction will eventually slow down and reverse cosmic expansion.  The universe will end in a big crunch.  If there isn't enough matter in the universe, the expansion will continue unimpeded indefinitely.  The universe will end in heat death.  When I was a student, I don't think we knew which outcome was more likely.  But the recent discovery of accelerated expansion, perhaps due to dark energy, means that expansion is outpacing gravity.

We may not have a preference between the big crunch and heat death, especially if they're both billions of years in the future.  But we should definitely root for the power of search to overtake the wild and rapid expansion of the web.  If it does, then as readers we'll be able to find what we want and as authors we'll have a chance of being found by readers.  But if search can't keep up with expansion, then as John Alan Paulos put it, the web will be the world's largest library, but its books will be scattered all over the floor.

If the power of search is above the critical threshold, then users will eventually have adequate maps of this wilderness.  Search will not only overtake and virtually slow the expansion, but also reverse it and lead to crunch.  Once every page is indexed, and we can keep pace with future growth, then we can add new and more useful layers of organization to the index, such as semantic connections that go beyond coded links, "crunching" the web into ever more useful forms.

Unfortunately it's difficult or impossible to make a direct comparison between the rate of web growth and the rate of search improvement.  One reason is that web growth and search power are not forces of nature (limiting my analogy).  Either or both may suddenly speed up or slow down.  We aren't surprised when they fluctuate because we know they are functions of a thousand variables that we do not yet fully understand.

There are many reasons why search may not keep pace with the expanding web.  One is limited scope.  What percentage of the web does a search engine index?  A critical part of search scope is the dark web, a.k.a. the deep or invisible web stored in databases and closed to search engine crawlers.  By one estimate the deep web is 500 times larger than the surface web.  

Another is the adequacy of the relevance algorithm.  How good is the search engine at guessing what you want and giving it a favored position in the search returns?  Another is search spam.  How good is the search engine at resisting attempts to manipulate its index and ranking algorithm?  Another is lack of personalization.  Even if the search index is complete and the relevance algorithm top-notch, different users may have different needs when searching on the same search term.  Some will find what they want at the top of the relevance-sorted list but others won't, and it doesn't help them to know that what they seek is listed somewhere among the millions of other sites further down the list.   (If you insist that search spam and lack of personalization are problems within the relevance algorithm, not separate problems beyond it, then I'll agree.)

The dark web is like dark energy, which accelerates expansion, not dark matter, which slows it down.  By resisting search, the dark web helps the cause of entropy and hurts the cause of closure and organization.

Some of the literature in the dark web can still be searched by speciality search engines like Copernic, Deep Query Manager, iBoogie, and ProFusion.  Moreover, even when dark web content is invisible to outside tools, it is usually hosted by databases that offer their own search functions.  But even together these tools don't take us very far.  Most of the dark web is still an unmapped region where content expands unnoticed by web-wide search engines.

Price barriers seclude content just as databases do and create a similar kind of web darkness.  Some publishers of non-OA content invite major search engines like Google and Yahoo to index them, and I applaud that.  And some search engines, like Scirus, already cover segments of the non-OA literature because they are created by the publishers.  But most toll-access literature is still invisible to the general search engines.

In this sense, open access contributes to the mapping, taming, organization, and intelligibility of the web, while toll access resists the forces of closure.

Search is the gravity of the online universe that holds everything together, if anything does.  As such, open access is one of its greatest allies.  One thing we can do to defeat web entropy and help the cause of organization and discovery is to provide open access to a continually growing proportion of research literature.  The harder this literature is to index --and price barriers increase the difficulty-- the harder it is for search to keep pace with the relentless expansion.

* Postscript.  I haven't seen other discussions of the analogy between cosmic expansion and web expansion, and the power of gravity and the power of search.  But I can't believe I'm the first to notice it.  If anyone can point out earlier discussions, I'd be glad to credit the pioneers.


Top stories from November 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 November:

     * OA reaches several milestones in November.
     * New OA repositories are being launched around the world.
     * New search developments enhance access to OA articles.
     * The Royal Society issued a position statement on open access.
     * Book-scanning projects continue to multiply.

* OA reaches several milestones in November.

The OA Crystallography Open Database logged over 24,000 entries.

E-LIS, the OA repository for library and information science, now has more than 3,000 documents on deposit.

The University of California's OA eScholarship Repository surpassed two million downloads.

And any day now the DOAJ will top the 2,000 mark. 

However, on the DOAJ milestone, note Sally Morris' finding (forthcoming in the January issue of Learned Publishing) that close to 10% of the DOAJ journals seem to be defunct.

* New OA repositories are being launched around the world.

Four Australian institutions --three universities and the National Library-- are launching institutional repositories using VITAL software from VTLS.  Others are expected to follow suit in 2006.

Nine Finnish universities and politechnics are launching institutional repositories using ENCompass software from Elsevier's Endeavor subsidiary.

Hewlett Packard helped Jadavpur University launch a DSpace repository and is "keen to take the [DSpace] digital library solution to other premier educational institutions across India."

The U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM) launched the MEDLINE/PubMed Baseline Repository (MBR) on November 23.

Since September, five major French research organizations --CNRS, Inserm, Inria, Inra, and the CPU-- have been working together on a single, national OA repository called HAL (Hyper Article on Line).

Also see Stevan Harnad's thoughts on Hal, AmSci OA Forum, November 29, 2005.

The University of Tampere in Finland decided to open its institutional repository to deposits by scholars anywhere.  This makes the Tampere repository the first universal repository.  (When I blogged this news on November 12, I said "...or first that I know of" and so far no one has written in to point out an earlier one.)

(The universal repository I'm building at the Internet Archive is still in process.)

If you count Google Base as an OA repository, then it belongs on this list because it launched in November.  Bear with me.  It's OA and it not only accepts scholarly articles, but has a predefined "content type" for them.  Its items have unique URLs for linking.  It supports item-by-item entry through a web form or bulk-uploading through TSV, RSS, or Atom.  It has some drawbacks as a repository, however.  It's not OAI-compliant (although it is Google-searchable).  There's no way to export a copy of your database to your hard drive for back-up or reuse.  And the terms of service give Google "a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license to reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, and otherwise use, with or without attribution such Content on Google services solely for the purpose of displaying, distributing and promoting Google services."

Google Base

Announcement of Google Base on the Google Blog, November 15, 2005

Google Base FAQ

Google Base search engine

Google Base Terms of Service (thanks to James Jacobs)

Here are a few of the many news stories about it:

Tara Calashain, Now Google Base Really Do All Belong To Us, ResearchBuzz, November 16, 2005.

Gary Price, Poking at Google Base, Search Engine Watch, November 16, 2005.

Danny Sullivan, Google Base Live, Accepting Content, Search Engine Watch, November 16, 2005.

Matthew Fordahl, New Service Expands Google's Reach, AP, November 16, 2005.

In related repository news, one wiki on OA archiving launched in November and another added new features.  Arthur Sale's AuseAccess wiki on Australian repositories launched on November 3, and Ari Friedman's Self-Archiving wiki added a function to produce customized posters and offered to host customized pages about individual repositories.



* New search developments enhance access to OA articles.

It's surprising how many search developments there were in November that especially affected OA content.

The University College Dublin School of Information and Library Studies developed OJAX, an open-source, Ajax-powered metasearch engine for OAI-compliant repositories.

Chmoogle is a new OA search engine for chemistry.  It will even search for chemical structures graphically sketched by users.

Science.gov 3.0 was launched on November 16.  It's the comprehensive portal and flexible search engine for OA science hosted by U.S. government agencies. Version 3.0 includes many improvements to the search engine, including Boolean searching, phrase searching, field searching, wildcards, and a new relevance ranking algorithm taking advantage of available metadata.

The NCBI released an NCBI Search Toolbar for Explorer and Firefox. The toolbar lets users run searches PubMed, Gene, Nucleotide, and other NCBI databases without having to visit any of the NCBI sites.

Shahul Ameen developed OAses, a nifty Open Access Toolbar that searches OAIster, DOAJ, Creative Commons, Project Gutenberg, FindArticles, PubMed Central, and a several of the major search engines.

Google Sitemaps, which lets webmasters submit their sites for Google indexing, now accepts OAI-PMH 2.0. 

Google's advanced search page now lets users filter results by the re-use rights allowed by Creative Commons licenses. There are three new options:  Return results that (1) "aren't filtered by license" (the default), (2) "allow some forms of re-use", or (3) "can be freely modified, adapted, or built upon". 

There are now three search engines that detect and make use of machine-readable CC licenses: the new Google advanced search, Yahoo's dedicated CC search engine (and the the CC option on Yahoo's regular search engine), and CC's own search engine.

(I repeat my comment from March 2005, when Yahoo first offered CC-filtered searching: "All search engines can offer this service and undoubtedly more and more of them will. As copyright locks down more content more tightly, searchers will want re-use rights almost as much as relevance. Search engines that find both will have an advantage. Conversely, authors and publishers who consent to grant more reuse rights than fair-use alone already provides should make their consent machine-readable for the next generation of search engines.")

Fast Search & Transfer (FAST) launched its Personal Search Platform (PSP) in October. PSP will search the web, your desktop, and the proprietary content of participating vendors all at the same time. According to Mark Chillingworth in today's Information World Review, Elsevier is talking to FAST about searching Elsevier content. Note that FAST is already the engine running Scirus.  (PS: Will FAST PSP exclude OA content because no one will pay to have it included? Or will FAST PSP include OA content because it's free for crawling and will make the index larger and more attractive?)

CrossRef announced two new services to enhance scholarly searching (November 30, 2005).  Among other things, the new services will ping indexing services and feed metadata, including DOI's to them.

Thomson ISI officially launched its Web Citation Index on November 28, 2005.  This is the fruit of its collaboration with NEC and CiteSeer first announced in February 2004.  WCI will index content from OA repositories and support citation-based discovery to supplement keyword-based search.  It may not be free to use, but this is impossible to determine yet, since there is no WCI web page.

Also see Mark Chillingworth, Thomson corals open access into single index, Information World Review, November 23, 2005.

Finally, a Southampton based team recommended a framework for collecting citation information from OA materials and feeding it to citation indices.  This is the beginning of a service that could produce an OA alternative to Thomson's WCI.

* The Royal Society issued a position statement on open access.

On November 24, the Royal Society issued a position statement on open access that was clearly designed to delay or derail the OA policy forthcoming from the Research Councils UK (RCUK).  It was not remarkable for expressing skepticism about OA; we've seen that before.  It was remarkable for misreading the RCUK proposal and disregarding the facts and evidence.  It accused "some" OA advocates of aiming to stop journals from profiting from publicly-funded research, when in fact all the proposals for OA to publicly-funded research are compatible with journal profits.  It worried that OA archiving might lead researchers to stop submitting their work to peer-reviewed journals, when all the OA archiving mandates apply only to works that have been published in peer-reviewed journals.  In addition, of course, all the professional rewards of research attach to peer-reviewed publication, not to unrefereed archiving.  It raised the old canard that OA journals charging author-side fees will exclude indigent authors, when it is now known that more subscription-based journals charge such fees than OA journals.  Moreover, none of the OA archiving mandates require or even encourage submission to OA journals.  It worried that extensive OA archiving will undermine journal subscriptions but it disregarded all the evidence that this is not true, e.g. in physics where the journal publishers themselves have publicly acknowledged that 15 years of high-volume OA archiving have not harmed them.  It called on funders to "remember that the primary aims should be to improve the exchange of knowledge between researchers and wider society" when its own arguments would compromise this criterion by subordinating knowledge-exchange to the financial interests of existing publishers like itself.  (The Royal Society publishes seven journals, all subscription-based.)  It called for a study, oblivious to the many studies that have already been done, including the extensive inquiry undertaken by the UK House of Commons Science and Technology Committee which was the basis of the RCUK draft policy and to which the Royal Society submitted written testimony.  The Royal Society is not speaking for all its members and clearly did not even consult them on this question.  Much of the public response to the Royal Society statement criticized its criticism of open access, but much of it also took the society to task for failing to live up to its tradition of careful analysis and evidence-based inquiry.

Royal Society position statement on Open Access, November 24, 2005

Also see the following related documents:

The Royal Society's press release on the November 24 statement

The Royal Society's previous position statement on the RCUK policy from July 2005

The Royal Society's written testimony to the House of Commons Scientific and Technology Commmittee inquiry into scientific publications and OA from June 2004

Here are some news and blog stories on the Royal Societey statement:

Paul Revere, The Royal Society of Microsoft, Effect Measure, November 29, 2005.

Venkat, The Royal Society trying to emulate RIAA? Domesticated Onion, November 27, 2005.

Richard Poynder, Struggling with Agnosia, Open and Shut, November 29, 2005.  Putting the Royal Society statement into the larger context of politicking about the OA recommendations of the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee and Research Councils UK.

Stuart Yeates, Royal Society has come out against Open Access Journals? November 28, 2005.

Heather Morrison, Royal Society Position Statement on Open Access, Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics, November 27, 2005.

Dan Gezelter, The Royal Society lays a big one, The OpenScience Project, November 26, 2005.

Matt Barton, Royal Society Stands Against Open Access, KairosNews, November 26, 2005.

Anon., Royal Society Fears Government-Sponsored Open Access to Publications, Element List, November 26, 2005.

Barbara Kirsop, Royal Society must embrace open access, SciDev.Net, November 25, 2005. A letter to the editor.

Piotr Konieczny, Science only for the elite? Voice of the Prokonsul, November 25, 2005.

Cory Doctorow, Royal Society: rent-seeking is more important than science, BoingBoing, November 25, 2005.

On November 25, Slashdot launched a thread on the Royal Society statement.

Simon Aughton, Free online research endangers not-for-profit publishers, PC Pro, November 25, 2005.

Richard Wray, Keep science off web, says Royal Society, The Guardian, November 25, 2005.

Stevan Harnad, Not A Proud Day In The Annals Of The Royal Society, AmSci OA Forum, November 24, 2005.

Anon., Royal Society warnt vor Wissenschaft im Web, Heise Online, November 26, 2005.

Polly Curtis, Society urges caution over open-access publishing, The Guardian, November 24, 2005.

David Dickson, Open access deemed 'dangerous' by Royal Society, SciDev.Net, November 24, 2005.

Anna Salleh, Fight over 'open access' looming, ABC News (Australia), November 24, 2005.

Although the RS under Lord May's leadership didn't bother itself to learn what open access was, Lord May has been heroic in his defense of free inquiry and knowledge against dogma and fundamentalism.

* Book-scanning projects continue to multiply.

Covering the voluminous book-scanning news last month nearly killed me, so this month I decided to scale back.  Despite that, the volume of news is immense.  This is just a selection.

Google ended its self-imposed moratorium on scanning copyrighted books under its Google Library program.  Soon after, it released the first books scanned under the program; some were under copyright with only snippets showing and some were from the public-domain with full-texts readable online.  Google may be considering models to allow ebook renting, which could become a compromise with authors and publishers of copyrighted books.  A Google lawyer said that the company is still looking for a compromise.  Google conceded that it didn't have a fair-use defense in Europe, and Sally Morris of the ALPSP conceded that Google did have a fair-use defense in the US.  Microsoft struck a deal with the British Library to digitize 100,000 of its books.  The Library of Congress announced a World Digital Library based on content contributed from many nations and its first private-sector partner was Google.  In a single week, major statements were published in Canada (November 17), the EU (November 22), and the UK (November 24) on the importance of coordinating national and international digitization projects.

Amazon and Random House introduced micropayment models for access to digital books.  Because this isn't OA, I didn't cover it.  But it could become relevant to OA, for example, if some OA providers drift from OA to micropayments or if some non-OA providers ask readers to pay for what should be free under fair use.  I'll monitor this scene and be ready to cover it if OA connections emerge.

First, here are two examples of Google-scanned books:

A book under copyright (snippet view):  Mary Moulton, True Stories of Pioneeer Life, Watson & Co., 1924.

A book in the public domain (full page view):  John Corbin, The Return of the Middle Class, Scribner's, 1922.

Here are some news and opinion pieces on these developments:

Sam Vaknin, The Ubiquitous Project Gutenberg - Interview with Michael Hart, Its Founder, Global Politician, December 2, 2005.

Siva Vaidhyanathan, A Risky Gamble With Google, Chronicle of Higher Education, December 2, 2005.

Andreas von Bubnoff, The Real Death of Print, Nature, December 1, 2005.

David Worlock, Google and the battle for value, EPS, November 29, 2005. Another contribution to the EPS debate on Google Library.

Victor Greto, Copyright's next test, Delaware Online, November 28, 2005.

Tony Sanfilippo, Google library project will hurt future publishing, scholarship, Centre Daily Times, November 28, 2005.

William Rees-Mogg, Help, we've been Googled! London Times, November 28, 2005.

Barbara Quint, Library of Congress Launches Global "Rare Book" Digitization Project with Google Donation, Information Today, November 28, 2005.

Keith Kupferschmid, Are Authors and Publishers Getting Scroogled? Information Today, November 26, 2005.

Jon Boone, Competing search engines create a din at the library, Financial Times, November 26, 2005.

Walt Crawford has an extensive section on Google Library and the Open Content Alliance in the December issue of Cites & Insights.

Gary Price, CustomizeGoogle Gains Blog, Search Engine Watch, November 25, 2005.

VNU Staff, Google digitisation faces Euro legal challenge, Information World Review, November 24, 2005.

JISC and CURL released a report, Digitisation in the UK: The Case for a UK Framework (November 24, 2005), calling for nationwide coordination of digitization projects to meet the needs of researchers.

Dynamic Action Plan for the EU co-ordination of digitisation of cultural and scientific content, Project MINERVA, November 22, 2005.

The President of India, A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, called for all academic libraries in India to be digitized for OA within the next four years.

Brock Read, $3-Million Gift From Google Jump-Starts Library of Congress's Digital Cultural Archive, Chronicle of Higher Education, November 23, 2005.

Jens Redmer, Google Book Search: fostering public access in a controlled way, Indicare, November 23, 2005.

Timo Hannay, Deaf, dumb and blind, EPS, November 22, 2005. Another contribution to the EPS debate on Google Library. Hannay is the Director of Web Publishing for the Nature Publishing Group.

Heidi Benson, A man's vision: world library online, San Francisco Chronicle, November 22, 2005.

David A. Vise, World Digital Library Planned, Washington Post, November 22, 2005.

Danny Sullivan and Gary Price, World Digital Library Project Announced, Backed By Library Of Congress & Google, Search Engine Watch, November 22, 2005.

On November 22, the Library of Congress and Google issued a joint press release on the World Digital Library.

Bill Rosenblatt, Rights management and the revolution in e-publishing, Indicare, November 21, 2005.

Katie Hafner, At Harvard, a Man, a Plan and a Scanner, New York Times, November 21, 2005.

Brent Forgues, Plan to digitize library inventories worries publishers, The Exponent, n.d. (but c. November 21, 2005).  The Purdue University Libraries are talking to Google about digitizing Purdue's books.

Barbara Quint, Books Online: The Fee versus Free Battle BeginsInformation Today, November 21, 2005. 

Edward Wyatt, Googling Literature: The Debate Goes Public, New York Times, November 19, 2005.

Anon., Will the Online Book Publishing Flap Rewrite Copyright Law? Knowledge@Wharton. Undated and unattributed.

On November 18, CustomizeGoogleBlog described a hack for removing image copying restrictions from Google Book Search.

Heather Ford, How accessible is Google Book Search making books? Hblog, November 18, 2005.

Lawrence Lessig, The “discussion”: the morning after, Lessig blog, November 18, 2005.

The Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) announced the launch of the Open Canada Digitization Initiative (November 17, 2005).

On November 17, Google Print has changed its name to Google Book Search. The search box has a new URL, though the old one will take you to the new page.  The two chief projects within Google Book Search --Google Library and Google Publisher-- have not changed their names or URLs, though their pages have been updated to reflect the new name of the parent program.

Richard Nash, Why it's naïve to think that Google is the enemy, a contribution to the EPS debate on Google Print, November 15, 2005.

David A. Vise, The Google Story: An Excerpt, Washington Post, November 14, 2005.

Paul Andrews, Google lawsuit poses dilemma, Seattle Times, November 14, 2005.

Jim Gerber, Critics misunderstand library project, USA Today, November 13, 2005.

Alistair Coleman, Google talks up print and privacy, BBC News, November 11, 2005. 

Farhad Manjoo, Throwing Google at the Book, Salon, November 9, 2005.

David Kesmodel and Vauhini Vara, Building an Online Library, One Volume at a Time, Wall Street Journal, November 9, 2005.

Kevin Maney, Critics should grasp Google projects before blasting them, USA Today, November 8, 2005.

The November 7 issue of USA Today ran an op-ed by Pat Schroeder condeming Google Library and an editorial by the paper supporting it as fair use.

Danny Sullivan, Once Again -- The Difference Between Google Print & Google Library, Search Engine Watch, November 7, 2005.

Mark Chillingworth, Macmillan takes on Google Print, Information World Review, November 7, 2005.

Edward Wyatt, Want 'War and Peace' Online? How About 20 Pages at a Time? New York Times, November 4, 2005.

K. Matthew Dames, ALA's Gorman Strikes Out Again, Copycense, November 4, 2005.

Jon Boone and Maija Palmer, Microsoft in deal with British Library, Financial Times, November 3, 2005.

Google Print Unveils Collection of Public Domain Books from Libraries at University of Michigan, Harvard, Stanford, and the New York Public Library, a press release, November 3, 2005.

Pat Schroeder and Bob Barr, Reining in Google, The Washington Times, November 3, 2005.

Anush Yegyazarian, Opinion: is Google really the greedy one? PC Advisor, November 3, 2005.

Quinn Norton, Off the shelf and on to the web, The Guardian, November 3, 2005.

Jeffrey Young, Google Adds First Scanned Library Books to Search Index, and Says Copyrighted Works Will Follow, Chronicle of Higher Education, November 3, 2005.

Jesse Nunes, Different paths taken to book digitization, Christian Science Monitor, November 2, 2005.

Kevin J. Delaney and Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg, Google Will Return to Scanning Copyrighted Library Books, Wall Street Journal, November 1, 2005.


Coming up later this month

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

* December 8.  The UK Research Information Network officially launches.

* December 15.  The UK House of Commons will debate the 2004 OA recommendations of the Science and Technology Committee, 2:30 to 5:30 pm in Westminster Hall.  The unstated topic of the debate is the draft RCUK policy, which is based on the committee recommendations, the target of fierce opposition by publishers, and still subject to revision before its final announcement.  The debate is open to the public.

* December 15.  Deadline to apply for on OSI/PLoS grant to cover the processing fees charged by PLoS journals.

* December 31.  Comments are due on the Draft Report of the American Council of Learned Societies’ Commission on Cyberinfrastructure for Humanities and Social Sciences.

* Notable conferences this month

Connecting with the Net Generation: Access and Environment
New York, December 2, 2005

Blackwell Publishing: Executive Seminar On Open Access
Washington, D.C., December 2, 2005

Digital Libraries, Institutional Repositories, Open Access (DASER-2 Summit)
College Park, Maryland, December 2-4, 2005

Regulating Search: A Symposium on Search Engines, Law, and Public Policy
New Haven, December 3,2005

Open Access to Grey Resources (Seventh International Conference on Grey Literature)
Nancy, December 5-6, 2005

Second International Conference on Technology, Knowledge, and Society (OA is among the topics)
Hyderabad, India, December 12-15, 2005

8th International Conference on Asian Digital Libraries
Bangkok, December 12-15, 2005

Biomedical Information Retrieval
New Delhi, December 20-23, 2005

* Other OA-related conferences



* I've added 17 new conferences to the conference page since the last issue.  In the next few days I'll delete the second asterisk marking them and the new entries will blend into the rest of the collection.


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

To unsubscribe, send any message to <SPARC-OANews-off@arl.org>.

Please feel free to forward any issue of the newsletter to interested colleagues.  If you are reading a forwarded copy of this issue, see the instructions for subscribing at either of the first two sites below.

SPARC home page for the Open Access Newsletter and Open Access Forum

Peter Suber's page of related information, including the newsletter editorial position

Newsletter, archived back issues

Forum, archived postings

Conferences Related to the Open Access Movement

Timeline of the Open Access Movement

Open Access Overview

Open Access News blog

Peter Suber

SOAN is an open-access publication under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License.  Users may freely copy, distribute, and display its contents, but must give credit to the author.  To read the full license, visit

Return to the Newsletter archive