Re: BioMed Central and new publishing models

From: Marvin <physchem_at_EARTHLINK.NET>
Date: Mon, 14 Feb 2000 10:48:57 -0500

I've pointed out before in this forum that universities will surely claim
ownership of copyright to online scholarly publications when substantial
amounts of income come into view. The New York Times had an article in the
Sunday, Feb. 13 Week in Review Section with the headline "Boola, Boola:
E-Commerce Comes to The Quad." (To read the article, go to and
search the archives using the phrase "Boola, Boola". There is a modest fee
of $2.50 to read the article.

In summary, a few professors have recognized the opportunity to give
lectures to a larger market than the classroom - the 'Net - and earn
substantial amounts of money. Many universities plan to revise their
policies in light of the amounts of money involved. That should come as no
surprise to anyone. It is a repeat of what happened to rights to patents
from university research.

It is unlikely that the universities will stop with lucrative online
courses. It makes more sense for them to claim ownership of all
intellectual rights, probably allowing faculty to gain income from those
rights as long as the university gets its share. The question for this
forum isn't whether scholarly publications will be affected, but how that
will affect the goal of some on this Forum to make online scholarly articles
free to the reader.

The proposed way to make the articles free is to shift the costs to the
authors, which means to their institutions or to the third parties (mainly
governments) that pay the bill through grants. Without a doubt, the ones
who pay will seek to recover the costs, just as they look to income from
patents from the research they sponsor.

The rule of unintended consequences is already coming into play.
Received on Mon Jan 24 2000 - 19:17:43 GMT

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