Re: Science 4 September on Copyright

From: Albert Henderson <> <harnad_at_COGSCI.SOTON.AC.UK>
Date: Tue, 15 Sep 1998 07:18:59 -0400


The Bachrach et al. proposal is not about authors and publishers. It
is about universities shifting the burden of spending for their
libraries to researchers. It requires every researcher to have the use
of expensive equipment and supplies of energy and paper.

It misrepresents the cost of a handful of electronic novelties that are
heavily subsidized with publications that are sustained by their

The authors delude themselves that grant-supported projects are immune
from sudden death. The preprint experiments of the 1960s funded by NIH
and the Atomic Energy Commission suggest there is a dark cloud
somewhere in the future of Drs Harnad and Ginsparg.

The recognition of "Library photocopying" in the Copyright Act of 1976
helped substitute copying for collection development. It excused the
decimation of university library collections. The Bachrach et al.
proposa l seems prepared to excuse elimination of libraries entirely.

One of its coauthors has already projected an end to collection
development by the year 2017 based on statistics of the Association of
Research Libraries (Okerson PUBLISHERS WEEKLY 27 July 1992: 22-23)

The Association of College and Research Libraries recommended that
schools spend six percent of their budget on their libraries. They have
instead spent less and less according to the National Center for
Education Statistics (STATUS OF ACADEMIC LIBRARIES ... NCES 97-413,
June 1997).

Between 1960, when the first plain paper copier was commercialized and
1995, U.S. academic R&D (constant dollars) increased nearly seven
times. Spending for 41 of the largest research university libraries
increased only 4.13 times (also constant dollars). If there is a
problem in modern dissemination, it falls from this huge imbalance.

The neglect of dissemination by science policy has affected the quality
o f research. For a detailed article on "the incoherence of science
policy," see the current (S/O) issue of SOCIETY.

Albert Henderson
Received on Tue Aug 25 1998 - 19:17:43 BST

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