Re: Open Archiving: What are researchers willing to do?

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Fri, 19 Nov 1999 10:43:17 +0000

Below is precisely the confusion that the interoperable Open Archives
Initiative can and will resolve:

On Fri, 19 Nov 1999, Ian Ross wrote:

> sh> after striking out those passages (which lately include attempts to
> sh> make incoherent distinctions between permitted archiving on a "personal
> sh> server" and forbidden archiving on a "public server" -- absurd because
> sh> all "personal servers" on the Web are public! These distinctions are
> sh> based on paper publishing categories that simply have no counterpart on
> sh> the Web; hence the mootness of the older agreements).
> Although I have been following this debate with great interest over the
> last few years, I rarely comment. I was intrigued, however, at the
> distinction between "public" servers and "private" servers attempted by
> commercial publishers. It's easy to see what they mean - "Nature" or
> Medline are "public sites" ie places one would go to seek out literature
> that one was hitherto unaware of, while my Departmental home page is a
> "private" site and one would perhaps only find my paper there if one knew
> it was there to begin with, or if one stumbled across it fortuitously.
> The trouble is, as you point out, it's a very tenuous distinction. I would
> love to know how they would view a paper which was archived (physically) on
> a "private" server, but which was pointed to by a link on an abstract
> residing on a "public" server. The reader would of course, neither know
> nor care where the document in fact resided, as long as there was a
> hyperlinked trail from the public site. Does this mean that "privately"
> archived papers are illegal if they are referenced by a hyperlink from the
> existing "public" literature? And how would one know or enforce it? What
> if one publishes the hyperlink to one's "private" site in the abstract of
> the "public" version? Or if one's article is indirectly hyperlinked
> (deliberately or unwittingly) by an intermediate paper? Would one ban
> hyperlinked references in published papers just in case they led to an
> "illegally archived" paper? What about papers in the future which exist
> not as discrete documents but as database entries in a number of parts
> (possible distributed across servers) which are assembled "on-the-fly" in
> different forms for different users? The situation rapidly becomes
> ludicrous.
> Of course there could well be technological solutions to the situation,
> given a unified effort on the part of commercial publishers. Take, for
> example, the copy-protection/piracy battle over the last 2 decades, or the
> current MP3 controversy. It would have been naive to say 20 years ago "but
> files can easily be copied, so protection of software is impossible". And
> on the Web, one can never say "never"!
> _________________________________
> Dr Ian L. Ross PhD
> Centre for Molecular and Cellular Biology
> The University of Queensland
> Ph 61-7-3878-8618 or 61-7-3665-4447
> fax 61-7-3878-8663 or 61-7-3665-4388
Received on Wed Feb 10 1999 - 19:17:43 GMT

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