Re: FOS Newsletter Excerpts

From: Alan Story <a.c.story_at_UKC.AC.UK>
Date: Tue, 10 Jul 2001 17:51:10 +0100

A few comments on "this gift" :

1) The " giving" is actually be done by the authors of the medical journal
articles, not the publishers. The publishers are only passing on what they
got for free from authors.

2) Such benevolence on the part of publishers! Give away what you get for
free and pass it on to others without invoking any extra distribution costs.
then, down the road, when you have a created a market for online journals in
third world countries or those countries increase their per capita income,
you then start charging them. A roughly similar model is used by Lexis and
Westlaw at law schools; while at law school, students get almost unlimited
and "free" access (mind you, the law schools pay a whopping per capita
licence fee!) and the students, not surprisingly, get "hooked" on the
of electronic legal research. And then when they become lawyers, the
students start charging their clients an hourly rate --- a few years ago it
was $75 an hour --- for online legal research. Such fees rapidly pay back
"the subsidy" handed out during law school. And the winners are? Lexis and

3) I assume this benevolence will also include full access to
non-proprietary open source software so that these third world universities,
to get access to this information, will not have to rely on Microsoft and
pay the absolutely scandalous rates that Microsoft charges. Did you know
that a rich university such as Harvard pays exactly the same software
licensing fees per desk to Microsoft as does the University of Zimbabwe?
But then we read that the Gates Foundation is one of the big backers of this
benevolence...and we quickly see that this benevolence is all about creating
a second market, this for computer software.

4) And finally I assume that this benevolence will also include significant
financial assistance so that scholars at third world universities can
increase their
contributions to these journals and others. The governing assumption behind
this project is that scholars and students at third world universities will
be merely the consumers of information/ knowledge from the "advanced
countries", never or seldom the producers.


Alan Story
Kent Law School
University of Kent
Canterbury Kent U.K
CT2 7NS.
44 (0)1227 823316
Received on Wed Jan 03 2001 - 19:17:43 GMT

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