Re: Napster: stealing another's vs. giving away one's own

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Tue, 6 Jun 2000 11:51:04 +0100

Online discussions are wonderful, and take on a creative life of their
own, but a moderated Forum is moderated so that the discussion stays
focused on the dedicated topic, and keeps those who are tuned in for
that topic, and that topic only, involved and interested.

This Forum is dedicated to freeing the refereed journal literature
online. It is not concerned with freeing music, video, software, or
(importantly) e-books. Nor is it concerned with newer and better ways for
authors to get income on any of the above (including their refereed
journal articles).

So unless there are any relevant and explicitly stated lessons to be
learned -- from the napster/Gnutella-style cyber-theft of music and
other products by their consumers, or from forms of micropayment for
the cyber-peddling of products -- for the ostensibly opposite concerns
of the give-away authors of the refereed research literature, I am
afraid I must now invoke cloture on this thread.

Some closing (sic) comments below. -- Stevan Harnad (Moderator)

> On Mon, 5 Jun 2000, Murray Turoff wrote:
> What we are really missing on the WEB is micro financial transactions.

This is irrelevant to the authors of the give-away refereed-research
literature, who do not seek access tolls barriers, but their removal.

> The ability of the creator of a piece of information to place their own
> transaction price on it. Some one that wants a copy of a given song

We are not song-writers, selling our wares, but researchers, reporting
our work. We seek research-impact, not paper-income.

> will have a transfer made to the greater of a dime or some similar
> amount. But it is a price the author sets. 80% of that money should
> go to the creator and 20% to the distributor running the distribution
> software which is the reverse of current pricing for music, books, etc.

Our "product" is not in that "etc." list. On the contrary, there is a
profound DISanalogy between our nontrade, give-away product, and that
entire trade etc-list.

Let the "80%" of the potential revenue from the toll-booths blocking
access to my research findings (paid by the few institutions/individuals
who can afford it) be forfeited completely in favour of free access.
And let the minuscule "distribution costs" be borne by Open Archiving:

The only expense remaining to be paid for is that of the SERVICE of
Quality-Control and Certification (QC/C: peer review/editing); let that
be paid for out of the small portion that it actually represents of the
"80% + 20%" annual savings above, by the institution of each researcher
(the one whose serials budget will benefit 100% from those 100% savings).

> If the industry does not make radical change and the financial
> institutions continue to try to perpetuate their monopoly on financial
> transactions (credit cards) all this will end up going off shore and be
> run by outfits in little known countries.

Perhaps true, but alas totally irrelevant to the subject matter and
objectives of this Forum.

> I have seen a number of Ph.D. students create CD's of out of print
> classic books that they are suppose to be reading for an indepth
> understanding. This is just another example of the same consequence.

Are the books in the public domain? If so, anyone can archive them in
the Open Archives (and at most only the one-off scanning/OCR costs need
to be covered).

Are the books under copyright? In that case this is theft, and if the
authors are opposed to giving their works away, certainly not to be
condoned or imitated here.

And as a form of Vanity Press for authors peddling or giving away their
own books, without QC/C, it is a welcome parallel enterprise, but not
relevant to this Forum, which is concerned with the give-away,
QC/C-based research literature only.

> Now they are trading CD's of such items among their community. I expect
> DOVER to start issuing CD's of out of print books that the copyright has
> expired on to go beyond their paper library. If they don't someone
> else will and replace their wonderful service.

Let us hope that the "someone" who picks up on archiving expired copyright
scholarly/scientific books (as opposed to trade potboilers) online will settle
for getting back the costs of the scanning/OCR; otherwise, let's hope
"someone else" will. That is the virtue of expired copyright in (the
Open Archiving sector of) the PostGutenberg Galaxy.

Stevan Harnad
Professor of Cognitive Science
Department of Electronics and phone: +44 23-80 592-582
             Computer Science fax: +44 23-80 592-865
University of Southampton
Highfield, Southampton

NOTE: A complete archive of this ongoing discussion of providing free
access to the refereed journal literature is available at the American
Scientist September Forum (98 & 99 & 00):

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Received on Mon Jan 24 2000 - 19:17:43 GMT

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