Welcome to the Free Online Scholarship (FOS) NewsletterDecember 19, 2001
* _Cortex_, a journal of the nervous system and behavior, has just freed its contents, making its online edition free of charge to all readers with no enforced waiting periods. The new policy is the work of the new editor, Sergio Della Sala. _Cortex_ still publishes a print edition with a subscription fee, but to coincide with the new access policy it has reduced the subscription price. The journal is betting that free online access will not significantly diminish its revenues. If it does, then non-subscribers may have to wait a few months after the print edition appears before they have free online access. _Cortex_ is published by Masson Italia, a for-profit publisher.
Cortex home page
Guest editorial ("Viewpoint") by Stevan Harnad on the occasion of the change of policy
* BioMed Central will institute processing charges for articles starting on January 1. The standard charge will be $500 per article, though it will be waived for authors from developing countries and in cases of hardship. (PS: See my thoughts on this funding model from FOSN for 9/6/01. My views haven't changed in substance since then, but in temperature I've definitely warmed to the BMC model. If access is to be free, then journal operating costs must be paid by knowledge producers or third parties, not knowledge consumers. Or, funders should pay for dissemination, not for access. Hence, BMC is on the right track, all the more so for avoiding the term "author fees" for these processing charges.)
* The Art Museum Image Consortium (AMICO) library of images is now available at a greatly subsidized price to UK institutions. The subsidy is provided by JISC and applies to a new interface for the collection created by the Scottish Cultural Resources Access Network (SCRAN). The existing interface, created by the Research Libraries Group (RLG), is still available.
* In related news, the AMICO Library will also be distributed by VTLS Inc., a library automation company.
* Academic Press journal articles are now searchable through Scirus. Scirus permits free full-text searching of texts that are not available for free full-text reading or printing (see FOSN for 5/25/01).
* Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) has completed its "Scientific Century" project, the retroactive digitization of its collected bibliographic citations and abstracts. The CAS online database now contains 20.5 million records from 1907 to the present. The new historical content is part of the standard CAS license and is not separately available.
* _Nature_ and three other journals have pooled their contents to create a free online collection of research papers and reviews reflecting 100 years of research on cell division. The costs are being picked up by Boehringer Ingelheim, a drug company. The site title, "Web Focus on Cell Division", suggests that this may become a series with other installments or foci in the future.
* Internet Database Service (IDS) searches now produce hits with links directly to full-text articles from Project MUSE, Ingenta, and PsycARTICLES. IDS is offered by Cambridge Scientific Abstracts and is not free.
* JAKE (the Jointly Administered Knowledge Environment) has moved. Note the new URL.
* Congressman Mark Green (Republican from Wisconsin) believes that anyone providing books to terrorists should be punished by up to 10 years in prison. Asked for an example of dangerous books, Green mentioned "textbooks on nuclear physics". Green is proposing a bill to close the "loophole" in recent counter-terrorism legislation that allows the free circulation of dangerous books. His bill would only punish those who provide assistance or information "with the intent that [it] be used in carrying out an act of terrorism". This clause would protect most librarians and webmasters but not until they were grilled about their intentions by an FBI agent, prosecutor, or grand jury. The ALA and ACLU are reserving judgment until they know more about Green's bill.
* Yaga is a P2P distribution system for all kinds of digital content, from music, video, and software to ebooks and documents. It has just added an option to its service allowing content providers to price their work as they see fit. If they choose to give away their work without charge, then anyone may download it including non-subscribers to Yaga's basic service. If priced, then only those submitting an electronic payment may download it. This is novel, even if not very progressive for scholarship: an infrastructure that provides neither free access nor priced access, per se, but whatever access the participating providers would like --a bazaar in which FOS providers might have a stall next to Elsevier, Disney, or Microsoft.
Yaga announcement(Not yet available on the Yaga site)
Yaga home page
Yaga directory of ebooks and documents
* An English court has ruled that statements that are protected from defamation suits when published in print might not be protected when republished on the web. Part of the reason seems to be traditional deference to a free press. (If so, it's oddly hide-bound to fail to include the online press. If the press has a role to play in public affairs that justifies this deference, then the role is independent of the medium in which it publishes.) But part of the reason seems to be that the newspaper had notice that someone regarded certain statements as defamatory and that it was therefore "irresponsible" for the paper, even though protected, to republish them. (Is the problem the republishing or the republishing in a medium of much greater reach than print? Does the deference to a free press depend on the limited visibility of print?)
* The European Union has decided to levy a value added tax (VAT) on web downloads. The primary target seems to be games, software, and entertainment. But the language in the EU press release is unqualified and might apply as well to scholarly articles that are (otherwise) free to readers. If so, the EU will undermine FOS with its right hand while supporting it (through many IST and CORDIS initiatives) with the left hand.
* The U.S. Supreme Court is temporarily accepting the electronic submission of briefs and other documents. The reason is not to streamline operations or permit searching and interlinking, but to minimize the danger of anthrax infection or the loss of documents in post offices closed for anthrax decontamination. Except for Bush v. Gore, which required expedited hearing, this is the first time the court has allowed electronic submission.
New on the net
* The text-e online seminar has moved on to a new essay: The Future of the Internet: A Conversation with Theodore Zeldin. The Zedlin essay will be the subject of discussion until December 31.
* Summaries of the four major talks at the November Open Access Forum at the British Library are now online.
* Most of the proceedings of the November ICOLC conference in Finland are now online, with the rest to come soon. A large number of the papers are FOS-related.
* Charles W. Bailey, Jr. has put version 40 of his Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography online. The new version cites over 15,000 articles, book, and other resources on- and off-line.
* The University of Kansas Anschutz Library has launched AmDocs, a free online archive of documents for the study of American history. It's organized by chronological period.
* On October 10, the ACM launched the online version of Computing Reviews. This is roughly for computer scientists what the Faculty of 1000 is for biologists (see FOSN for 11/16/01). The function is similar, to guide working scientists through the wilderness of published research with short reviews of the most notable new work, when these decisions are made by a large community of experts hand-picked by the editorial board. The print version of Computing Reviews is more than 40 years old, but has definitely improved in its transition to the net. Registered users may customize a page containing reviews of new articles in their specializations and sign up for email notification of new articles as well as new hits on stored searches. One puzzle: The site lists fairly steep subscription prices, but I was able to get every service I tried for free.
* The Humbul Humanities Hub (from RDN) has launched My Humbul, a customization option that lets users sign up for email alerts to new content in their areas of interest and new hits matching their stored searches.
* The European Union IST Programme has launched TREBIS (Trial and Evaluation of a Biodiversity Information System). It's a free online natural history museum using state of the art database and digital mapping technologies. The trial version focuses on the natural history of the Austrian state of Voralberg.
* The IST has also launched the beta version of Renardus. Renardus is a project to improve access to existing academic content on the internet. It provides a unified interface and common search engine for distributed content portals maintained by subject-matter experts throughout Europe.
* The European Union's 5th Framework Programme has launched VRCHIP (Virtual Reality Cultural Heritage Information Portal), a free online archive of Knutsford, England, with a virtual reality interface. "Users will navigate their way around the virtual towns and through time and, with sound and animation of vehicles, machinery and life providing realism, become immersed in an environment which enhances the learning experience."
* Two Illinois colleges have received a grant from the Illinois State Library to test and integrate ebooks into their libraries and English literature classrooms.
* The Scottish Science Library and the Scottish Business Information Service are closing. It appears that this decision was made without regard to the adequacy of print or electronic alternatives.
Share your thoughts
* INTERGRAF (the International Confederation for Printing and Allied Industries) is conducting an online questionnaire on the future of print --or rather 12 questionnaires for people with any of 12 different perspectives on the question. Click on your primary job description and you'll receive the questionnaire matching your position.
* The DNER Journals Working Group has created the first of a series an online surveys to help it understand the serials requirements of higher education institutions in the UK. The current survey asks about journals not currently available through JISC licensing agreements. Replies will be collected until December 24.
* The Canadian National Archives has put up an online questionnaire to help with its Accessible Archives project. The project is to make the National Archives more accessible online, and the questionnaire will help it meet user priorities. Non-Canadians are welcome to fill out the questionnaire. Replies will be accepted until March 2, 2002.
* The U.S. General Services Administration is redesigning the FirstGov website. It has issued a public call for comments, suggestions, and bids on running usability tests.
* Marin Hensel would like your comments on his library ebook lending proposal, in which his company, Texterity, plays the role of providing MARC records.
In other publications
* In the January 2002 issue of _Learned Publishing_, there are several FOS-related articles:
Peter Fox takes a closer look at what it will cost to preserve electronic journals for the long term.
Andrew Odlyzko argues that scholarly communication is evolving rapidly while scholarly journals are evolving slowly. If present trends continue, then "print [journals] will be eclipsed" and non-traditional channels for scholarly communication will replace journals. Recent data undermine the early fears that internet growth will cause information overload and industry hopes that scholarly journals are not substitutable. "To stay relevant, scholars, publishers and librarians will have to make even greater efforts to make their material easily accessible."
Joost Kircz outlines how scientific papers might evolve when released from the constraints of print. He argues for a "different granularity" in which the components of a modular publication might be separately and more specifically peer-reviewed, have their own metadata (allowed by the DOI standard), perhaps their own URLs, and their own sections in a modular abstract. Relationships between published components, represented by hyperlinks, can make significant contributions to knowledge in their own right.
David Goodman describes Princeton's two-year experience receiving some major journals only in electronic form. It has been so positive that Princeton plans to expand the program, at least when the financial savings is significant and when the publisher can provide "effective guarantees of continuing access". In practice this has five dimensions: (1) providing near 100% uptime, (2) allowing long-term retention of purchased issues without new payments, and (3) assuring that rights will not be revoked e.g. if the publisher is sold, (4) offering long-term digital preservation and access, and (5) offering "very long-term" preservation and access, probably in some non-electronic form.
Diana Rosenberg describes the INASP program, African Journals Online, which provides free online access worldwide to abstracts and tables of contents of scholarly journals published in Africa. She argues that the program is inexpensive to maintain, once set up, but that it is only one step toward the wider use of African journals outside Africa.
Jane Dorner explores what the rise of ebooks will mean for authors rights, plagiarism, the concept of "out of print", niche markets, quality control, and the exploitation of unwary authors by amateur or grasping epublishers.
* The January 2002 _Cites & Insights_ from Walt Crawford is now online with its usual informative mix of library, book, and technology news and reviews.
* In a December 18 article in _Silicon.com_, Sally Watson shows that non-academic publishers are learning from academic publishers about aggregation and forcing users to make painful all-or-thing decisions.
* In the December issue of _RLG DigiNews_ editor Anne Kenney interviews Robin Dale (from RLG) and Meg Bellinger (from OCLC) on the RLG-OCLC collaborative digital archiving initiatives.
* Also in the December _RLG DigiNews_, Margaret Hedstrom and Clifford Lampe assess emulation and migration as two strategies for long-term digital preservation. In their user test, they found no significant differences in user satisfaction, object performance, or ease of use between the two strategies.
* In the December _D-Lib Magazine_ there are several FOS-related articles:
Christophe Blanchi and Jason Petrone propose a distributed interoperable metadata registry. They argue that conversion middleware makes a single syntax unnecessary and therefore is maximally accommodating to new forms of metadata and minimally restrictive on compatibility.
Stephen Pinfield describes how officials at the University of Nottingham studied arXiv and its use by physicists. Their purpose was to create an institutional eprints archive at Nottingham with their eyes open to the many issues it would raise --technical, economic, academic, legal, and managerial. While there are differences between a disciplinary archive and an institutional archive, much of the experience of the former is transferrable to the latter. By summarizing the arXiv study, Pinfield has given other institutions a shortcut to creating their own archives.
Hussein Suleman and Edward Fox propose to build on the success of the Dublin Core and the Open Archives Initiative to create a framework for open, interoperable, and extensible digital libraries. Basically they propose that digital libraries should become OAI-compliant archives or networks of OAI-compliant archives. Their contents and services can then be shared through the OAI interface. What's "contentious" about the proposal, the authors admit, is that it requires extending the OAI standard a bit. Because the standard's simplicity is a major cause of its wide adoption, any new complexity will be resisted. They argue that this extension is tolerable because it will remain separable from the original standard, and justified by the higher levels of library integration it will support.
Greg Karvounarakis and two co-authors describe RQL, their declarative query language for RDF metadata. Such a query language has been a missing link in the evolution of the semantic web.
Xiaoming Liu describes his DP9 software, which makes OAI-compliant archives crawlable by major search engines like Google (see FOSN for 11/26/01).
* The December issue of _Vine_ is devoted to ebooks and ejournals. Several articles are FOS-related, but unfortunately only the table of contents and some very short abstracts are freely available online.
* In the December issue of _Librarian's eBook Newsletter_, the editors have written a report on the November NIST/NISO Electronic Book Conference in Washington DC.
* The same issue contains a helpful, brief review of the five major ebook publisher closings in recent weeks.
* The same issue also contains a brief story on Bookshare.org, a service allowing the disabled to swap scanned books without having to seek permission or pay royalties. Bookshare itself charges a small fee per ebook to defray its costs. A 1996 amendment to U.S. Copyright law specifically permits this sort of copying and distribution.
* In the December _Library Collection Development & Management_, James Sweetland reviews the difficulties that make long-term digital preservation a problem and recommends readings for those who'd like go further.
* In the December _ComputerUser_, Joe Farace goes over some of the nuts and bolts of creating an ebook. He is refreshingly clear that one needn't use any of the prevailing ebook file formats or dedicated hardware platforms except to widen the potential market or audience for the book.
* In the September _Communications of the ACM_, 44(6) 48-52, Niv Ahituv argues that the costs of protecting online information from non-paying users will eventually lead most individuals and organizations to "give up the effort". He sees signs of this happening already. Unfortunately the phenomenon is general, and applies not only to scholarship but also to personal information that individuals would like to keep private. Ahituv's article is not free online, but the ACM does provide free online access to this review by Brad Reid.
* In the September issue of _Vine_, Martin Radford criticizes electronic journals that license to specific IP addresses rather than to institutional employees, and shows how to use Squid on Unix to the latter job securely. Only a short abstract of the paper is available for free online.
* The British National Preservation Office has put online a 12-page primer, Managing the Digitisation of Library, Archive and Museum Materials.
* In the last issue I reported that the DLF had commissioned Outsell, Inc., to study the information needs and usage patterns of university students and faculty. Because other Outsell studies are neither free nor online, I expressed the hope that DLF had reserved the right to make this report public when it was finished. Dan Greenstein, Director of the DLF, writes to assure me that, indeed, DLF will provide free online access to the report and will deposit the underlying data with the ICPSR. At the same time he included the URL for the original grant proposal to the Mellon Foundation, which is funding the Outsell report.
* In the last issue I reported that a House subcommittee was holding hearings on the U.S. Copyright Office's report that the DMCA did not need significant revision. Now you can read the testimony of Marybeth Peters, the Register of Copyrights. She is fairly accurate in summarizing the criticisms of scholars, librarians, civil libertarians, and consumer advocates. Then she replies, "We are not persuaded...."
* Federal prosecutors offered Dmitry Sklyarov a deal: they will drop charges against him for violating the DMCA if he will testify against Elcomsoft, his Russian employer. Sklyarov accepted the deal --facing 25 years in prison if he didn't. Although Elcomsoft still faces DMCA charges, it is pleased that Sklyarov himself has escaped legal danger. Elcomsoft's trial has been set for April 15. Technically, the charges against Sklyarov have been deferred, not dropped, and will be dropped if Sklyarov continues to cooperate with the prosecution during the Elcomsoft trial.
Justice Department press release
Federal District Court decision freeing Sklyarov, including Sklyarov's statement of his role in the "offense", December 13, 2001
David McGuire, Govt Will Free Sklyarov In Exchange for Testimony
Freed Dmitry Sklyarov will be home for the holidays
Michelle Delio, Russian Hacker Charges Dropped
U.S. to free Russian hacker on testimony
Jennifer Lee, U.S. Defers Digital Copyright Case Against Russian Programmer
Jason Hoppin, Feds Drop Copyright Case Against Russian Programmer
EFF archive on the Sklyarov case
FOSN back issues on the Sklyarov case
* More on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals decision in the 2600 Magazine DeCSS case (see FOSN for 12/5/01).
Carl Kaplan writing in the _New York Times_ cites free speech advocates who deplore the part of the decision holding 2600 Magazine liable for linking to sites that violated the DMCA. They argue that publishing the same URLs in a print newspaper would clearly be protected by the First Amendment. The court found a constitutional difference between print URLs and live hyperlinks, but of course the former become the latter when a print story is put online. Journalists do not know when they face liability for writing a news story about a copyright prosecution and providing links to the relevant sites. This vagueness is itself a First Amendment problem with the recent decision.
K. Matthew Dames writing for _LLRX.com_ argues that the decision against 2600 Magazine and the decision against Edward Felten both undercut the interests of researchers and libraries. Quoting Peter Jaszi, professor of law at American University: "I'm sorry that the judge didn't take more seriously the real chilling effect that uncertainty about the scope of the DMCA tools provisions is having on the scientific and academic communities, especially in the field of computer science."
* The Security Systems Standards and Certification Act (SSSCA) is still in the wings, awaiting its turn for legislative action after Congress finishes dealing with a series of post-9/11 economic measures. The SSSCA is the radical extension to the DMCA which would require all computers to contain government-approved security devices and which would make violations into felonies (see FOSN for 9/14/01). It's in the news this week because industry leaders are quarreling among themselves about whether to achieve their goal of total copy protection through the marketplace or through legislation like the SSSCA.
Declan McCullagh and Ben Polen, A Call to End Copyright Confusion
Working draft of the SSSCA (August 6)
ACM letter protesting SSSCA (see FOSN for 10/5/01)
StopPoliceware.org (anti-SSSCA site)
Catching up (old news I should have discovered earlier)
* Cheryl Martin maintains Psyche Matters, a free online collection of bibliographies and full-text papers in psychoanalysis.
* The proceedings from the January 2000 ICSTI workshop in Paris on digital archiving ("Bringing Issues and Stakeholders Together") are now online.
Subscribing without loss of privacy
Now and then I get an email from a potential subscriber deterred by Topica's intrusive questions about age, sex, address, and so on. This is a sore spot with me because I don't use this information and wish Topica didn't ask for it. I haven't switched hosts yet because I'm still looking for one with all of Topica's virtues and none of its vices.
However, I can send anyone an email "invitation" to subscribe to the newsletter. Replying to the invitation allows you to bypass all the intrusive questions. If you're reading the newsletter on the web because you prefer not to answer the questions required by the standard sign-up procedure, then send me an email (peters [at] earlham.edu) and I'll send you an invitation.
If you plan to attend one of the following conferences, please share your observations with us through our discussion forum.
* Academic Institutions Transforming Scholarly Communications (SPARC/ARL Forum at the ALA Midwinter Meeting)New Orleans, January 18-23
* Intellectual Property and New Business Creation from Science and TechnologyOxford, January 27 - February 1
* High Quality Information For Everyone And What It CostsBielefeld, February 5-7
* E-volving Information futuresMelbourne, February 6-8
* Book Tech 2002New York, February 11-13
* ICSTI Seminar on Digital Preservation of the Record of Science[No web site yet, but for registration info contact Barry Mahon, <icsti [at] icsti.org>.]Paris, February 14-15
* Electronic Journals --Solutions in Sight?London, February 25-26
* International Spring School on the Digital Library and E-publishing for Science and TechnologyGeneva, March 3-8
* Database and Digital Library Technologies (part of the 17th ACM Symposium on Applied Computing)Madrid, March 10-14
* Digitization for Cultural Heritage Professionals: An Intensive ProgramChapel Hill, North Carolina, March 10-15
* Computers in Libraries 2002Washington D.C., March 13-15
* The Electronic Publishers Coalition (EPC) conference on ebooks and epublishing (obscurely titled, Electronically Published Internet Connection, or EPIC)Seattle, March 14-16
* Internet Librarian International 2002London, March 18-20
* New Developments in Digital LibrariesCiudad Real, Spain, April 2-3
* The New Information Order and the Future of the ArchiveEdinburgh, March 20-23
* International Conference on Information Technology: Coding and ComputingLas Vegas, April 8-10
* NetLat and Friends: 10 Years of Digital Library DevelopmentLund, April 10-12
* Creating access to information: EBLIDA workshop on getting a better deal from your information licencesThe Hague, April 12
* Information, Knowledges and Society: Challenges of A New EraHavana, April 22-26
The Free Online Scholarship Newsletter is supported by a grant from the Open Society Institute.
This is the Free Online Scholarship Newsletter (ISSN 1535-7848).
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Copyright (c) 2001, Peter Suber