Re: A Role for SPARC in Freeing the Refereed Literature

From: David Goodman <dgoodman_at_PRINCETON.EDU>
Date: Wed, 21 Jun 2000 10:55:51 -0400

Steve, I think you are missing the point, which is
that the technology for republication, legal or illegal, is now so
widespread and so convenient, that its use may effectively supersede any
discussions of morality and legality. Certainly counter-measures should and
will be developed, but it is a real possibility that publishers in all formats
may no longer find it practical to control their material, regardless of
copyright law or even basic ethics.
I think most of us in this discussion fully support the efforts you and others
are making to permit and facilitate legal free distribution of the results of
research. But regardless of their sucess, the predominant mode of access may
conceivably switch to illegal free distribution, regardless of all efforts to
prevent it. Of course most of us -- I hope -- think this very undesirable, but
that might not prevent it from happenning.

Stevan Harnad wrote:
> Please see the "napster" thread in this Forum. My own view is that
> there is a profound DISanalogy between consumer-end rip-off,
> napster-style, of NON-give-away work (such as MP3 music), which is
> illegal and not to be condoned, and author-end open-archiving of
> give-away work (refereed research reports), which can be done
> completely legally, and is both optimal for research and researchers
> and inevitable.
> I don't think that conflating consumer-end take-away with producer-end
> give-way in any way helps the rightful cause of freeing the refereed
> literature; rather, it gives its adversaries the chance to liken it to
> music-, book- and software-piracy.
> On Wed, 21 Jun 2000, Hooper, T, Tony, wrote:
> > the illegality of the undergraduate's actions [nabbing MP3s via
> > napster] [is] almost irrelevant if there is little likelihood of either
> > detection or a successful law enforcement action.
> Digital consumer piracy may (or may not) prove to be an unpreventable
> crime, with unenforceable laws, but it is certainly not a VICTIMLESS
> crime (except when the producers themselves wish to give their product
> away, in which case it is not necessary to steal it in the first
> place!).
> The digital give-away by researchers of their own refereed research
> reports is intrinsically a victimless crime -- except if their
> publishers try to make it so, by holding their joint product hostage to
> restrictive copyright agreements. But that conflict-of-interest can be
> amicably resolved by simply paying publishers up-front for their one
> essential service (implementing peer review) out of the savings from
> freeing the literature.
> No need or room for napster-style piracy at all.
> > The time has come to replace [copyright] with a more effective way of
> > rewarding creativity - such that the originators benefit more than the
> > publishers - without creating artificial and inappropriate constraints
> > on access inimical to the culture of the Internet.
> There may or may not be a need (and a suitable way of meeting it) for
> this in the many non-giveaway domains I've mentioned (books, music,
> software), but refereed research is in another category entirely, for
> its reward is the unrestricted access by other researchers (and
> increased research impact) that comes from freeing it; no refereed
> research author would trade that for fees, royalties, or any other
> pay-for-product scheme: Theirs is not a trade product; it is more like
> an advertisement.
> > The problem doesn't only apply to academics. Many musicians, angered
> > by the pathetic royalties paid by music publishers and the slow
> > turnaround times, are publishing their music voluntarily on the
> > Internet as MP3 files.
> There seems to be a misunderstanding here. Does anyone imagine that
> these musicians are interested in giving it all away forever?
> Temporary, early-career give-aways for self-promotion, yes, but if
> that's all there ever was to be, would they bother doing it at all?
> Harnad, S., Varian, H. & Parks, R. (2000) Academic publishing in
> the online era: What Will Be For-Fee And What Will Be For-Free?
> Culture Machine 2 (Online Journal)
> > The technology is now readily available for a new way to ensure rapid
> > publication, good indexing, quick and easy peer review, and above
> > all, easy and open access unrelated to financial considerations.
> The technology makes it possible to separate what used to be the
> unitary process of refereed research publication into two component
> functions: Quality-Control/Certification, and Dissemination.
> Publishers can continue to perform the former (and be paid fairly for
> that service), while authors and their institutions perform the latter
> (though Open Archiving).
> This partitioning ONLY fits the refereed research literature (and
> perhaps other give-away literatures); it does NOT fit books, music, or
> software.
> > SPARC appears to be a way of building a modern-day Noah's Arc
> And one would rather free all of the refereed research literature, once
> and for all, not just save for one more year that smaller and smaller
> portion of it that some of us can still afford at all.
> --------------------------------------------------------------------
> 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):
> You may join the list at the site above.
> Discussion can be posted to:

David Goodman
Biology Librarian, and
Co-Chair, Electronic Journals Task Force
Princeton University Library
phone: 609-258-3235            fax: 609-258-2627
Received on Mon Jan 24 2000 - 19:17:43 GMT

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