Excerpts from FOS Newsletter

From: Peter Suber <peters_at_earlham.edu>
Date: Wed, 30 Jan 2002 20:54:29 +0000

      Excerpts from the Free Online Scholarship (FOS) Newsletter
      January 30, 2002

Thoughts on commercial use of FOS

I've been arguing with friends recently about the commercial repackaging of
FOS. If authors create free online access to their work, then it's not
only free for researchers but also for commercial publishers. What rights
should users have to incorporate FOS into commercial products (with or
without add-ons) and what rights should authors have to block it? (See
FOSN for 7/17/01 and 8/7/01.)

Now I know that true friends of FOS can disagree strongly on this
question. Some other time I can go over the major arguments pro and con.
Right now I want to focus on the fact of the disagreement itself.

The disagreement is somewhat ominous to me because the open software
movement experienced a schism on just this point. The free software wing
of the movement (the Richard Stallman school) blocks commercial use, while
the open source wing of the movement (the Eric Raymond school) permits it.

The free software school uses the GNU General Public License (GPL), which
requires those who adopt, modify, and redistribute GPL code to give their
users all the rights they themselves enjoyed, including the right to see
and modify the code free of charge. That prevents commercial use and that
is part of the point. It's also one reason why Microsoft is blowing the
trumpet to warn corporate America not to use code protected by the GPL.

The open source movement doesn't use just one kind of license, the way the
free software movement uses the GPL. But the open source licenses
typically allow users to incorporate open source code into larger projects
which are then sold for profit as closed source packages. Section 1 of the
official Open Source Definition asserts that open source licenses "shall
not restrict any party from selling or giving away the software as a
component of an aggregate software distribution containing programs from
several different sources. The license shall not require a royalty or other
fee for such sale." This is why, for example, IBM can incorporate the
Apache server (open source) into WebSphere (closed source) and sell it.

There is at least one reason to fear that the FOS movement may bifurcate
along similar lines: its proponents already disagree on this question.

But there are some reasons to think that it may not bifurcate. There are
several differences between scholarship and software that may be germane
here. One is that software has a greater potential for commercial success
than scholarship. More people are willing to buy it and the market for it
will bear higher prices. Another is that the authors of scholarship tend
not to be the parties who profit from its sale, while the reverse is true
for software. A third difference is that scholars build on previous
scholarship by quoting and citing it, not by copying and modifying
it. Will these differences make a difference?

One way to avert bifurcation seems unavailable to us, namely, to convert
people who think one way to think the other way instead. By all means let
the reasoned discourse continue. But I suspect that this is an issue
calling for political accommodation, or agreement to disagree, not for the
clincher argument that converts infidels and certainly not for the One True
Church that suppresses free thinkers.

I've moved around a bit since I started thinking about these issues. I now
lean toward permitting commercial use. But I want to make this preference
genial, or compatible with the opposite preference, so that the FOS
movement can recruit and retain authors who oppose commercial use. I also
want an exception to prevent the exploitation of consumers who, if they
were better informed, would not buy what they could get for free. Is there
room for waffling here? Could evangelistic waffling prevent bifurcation?

What do you think? Will the open scholarship movement bifurcate? Are
there steps we can take now to prevent bifurcation?

Free Software Foundation (Stallman school)

Open Source Initiative (Raymond school)

GNU General Public License (GPL)

Open Source Definition version 1.9 (see Section 1)

Open Source Licenses

Apache open source license

IBM's WebSphere

Microsoft's opposition to GPL

* Postscript. For a case study in the blending of FOS and commercial
interests, see the next story.


FOS concessions at Elsevier

Elsevier's Scirus now searches arXiv. Scirus is a free search engine of
(mostly) unfree literature. It ranges over all of Elsevier's priced
ejournals and some free sources as well. Now arXiv is among the free
(Thanks to NewsLink.)

This is not a large concession to FOS. It's more a way to bundle a free
service with a paid service in order to enhance the package for paying
customers, like a restaurant offering all the water you can drink. It
gives more bang for the buck and it doesn't matter that the extra bang is
also available to those with no bucks. Last year the Chemical Abstracts
Service did the same thing when it added one-click Google searches to its
paid service, eScience (see FOSN for 7/17/01).

But this does recognize arXiv as a source of worthy literature --a free
service that enhances the paid service rather than simply cluttering
it. It recognizes arXive as a source worth searching by scientists and
worth bragging about in an Elsevier press release. This recognition may be
more important than the searching itself. It can't be a concession that
Elsevier is ready to revoke if FOS gets too threatening. Removing a
popular body of literature from the Scirus index will be like --removing
free water from restaurant tables. And in any case, it's hard to imagine a
more popular FOS source than arXiv already is among physicists. So this
looks like a long-term accommodation. But if so, what does that mean for
other FOS sources that the scientific users of Scirus would like to search
as well, especially future sources that approach arXive in popularity?

Jan Velterop has pointed out to me that for some time Elsevier journals
have permitted author self-archiving. Elsevier doesn't allow authors to
put their refereed postprints in a free archive, but it does allow authors
to keep unrefereed preprints in free archives in perpetuity.

Self-archiving of preprints isn't quite as useful as self-archiving of
postprints, but certainly good enough. To supplement an archived preprint,
the author can always add a page of corrigenda explaining how the preprint
differs from the postprint, and thereby give users of the free archive all
the pieces of the final draft.

In one sense Elsevier's concession here is also small, because journals
have no legal basis to object to the presence of preprints in free
archives. (If authors transfer copyright to a journal, they do so for the
revised final draft, not for the preprint.) But for the same reason,
Elsevier didn't have to say in public that it permitted this practice. It
might have hoped that authors wouldn't know their rights or take full
advantage of them.

Finally, of course, Elsevier has its own large experiment in FOS, offering
most of the contents of ChemWeb and all the contents of the Chemistry
Preprint Server at no charge.

How do you read these signs? Is it an experiment to see whether FOS can be
economically self-sustaining? (ChemWeb is supported by advertisers and
sponsors.) To see whether alliances with FOS (through Scirus and
self-archiving) help or hurt the bottom line? Is it an attempt to learn
the economics and markets of FOS in order to be a few steps ahead of
competitors when FOS becomes the dominant form of scholarly publishing? Is
this the scholarly publishing version of Microsoft's "embrace and extend"


Two other FOS declarations

In the last issue I featured the Declaration of Havana. Clicking around
the sites of its backers I found two related public statements. Both, like
the Declaration of Havana, focus on the benefits of FOS for developing

The _Declaration of San José Towards the Virtual Health Library_ was issued
in San José, Costa Rica, on March 27, 1998, by the delegates of the Latin
American and Caribbean System on Health Sciences Information (Bireme). The
declaration asserts that "access to information" is "essential" to achieve
the goals of health, well-being, equity of living conditions, and
development. One purpose of the statement is to support the Virtual Health
Library, a free online archive of health information for the countries of
Latin America and the Caribbean.

San José declaration

Virtual Health Library

The _Statement from Cuban Health Care Workers and Christian Institutions_
was issued on February 1, 1996. It asserts that "access to information" is
not only essential for health care workers, but can save lives "more
effectively than any medicine or new techniques". One purpose of the
statement is to support Project InfoMed, a project providing free online
access to medical journals and medical information primarily within
Cuba. The statement also calls on the U.S. not to embargo the hardware
(the "computers which represent a humanitarian gesture of solidarity")
needed to support InfoMed.

Statement from Cuban Health Care Workers
(Scroll down about 60% of the page.)

Project Infomed
(Same URL as above)



* The _Journal of High Energy Physics_ (JHEP), an early leader among FOS
journals, will start to charge subscription fees at the end of 2002. It
has been free since its launch in 1997. This was first announced in a
November 12 press release in the _Institute of Physics News_ and recently
elaborated in a thread of the September98 discussion forum. As Stevan
Harnad points out in the forum, "[T]he ultimate irony is this: Virtually
100% of the papers appearing in JHEP are also self-archived by their
authors in http://www.arxiv.org . So even now that access to JHEP will
become toll-based, the free versions will remain accessible through Arxiv!"

November 12 press release

Discussion thread in September98 forum

* The Internet Scout Report has launched a new series of free online
newsletters called NSDL Scout Reports, one for the life sciences, one for
the physical sciences, and one for math, engineering, and technology. Each
describes new online resources in the relevant fields, with links of
course. I suspect that most of the resources covered by the new reports
will be free. But the only connection to the NSDL in these NSDL Scout
Reports is that some NSDL money is subsidizing them. (NSDL is a huge free
online archive of the sciences now under construction.)

NSDL Scout Reports


* Australia's Northern Territory is considering a bill to provide "public
access to information held by the public sector".
(Thanks to NewsAgent.)

* The U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) has put online its Biennial
Report to Congress on the Status of GPO Access. "GPO Access" is the free
online information service of the GPO and one of the richest sources of FOS
in the U.S. GPO Access hosts 2,200+ free online databases in addition to
130,000+ free online government documents and links to 94,000+ free online
documents elsewhere. Since May of last year, users have downloaded more
than 30 million documents per month from the GPO web sites.
(Thanks to Current Cites.)

* _Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews_ is a new, free online journal
publishing substantial reviews of new books in philosophy. Readers may
read the reviews at the web site or sign up to receive them by email.

* A series of server crashes has interrupted access to Kluwer's online
journals for many libraries, which has these paying subscribers
understandably peeved. Librarians are sharing suggestions in a thread on
the LibLicense discussion forum. I like David Goodman's suggestion: "In
situations like this, where the problem is the access control rather than
the source data, the best course for publishers is to simply make access
free to everyone until they have fixed the problem."

* In the February _Cites & Insights_, Walt Crawford has (1) a good list of
copyright developments in that past year that have affected libraries or
scholarship, and (2) a review of the text-e virtual symposium on digital
publishing along with his own responses to the symposium papers by Roger
Chartier, Roberto Casati, Stevan Harnad, and Bruce Patino.

* In the January issue of _Searcher_, Myer Kutz has an excellent, mostly
sympathetic history of the recent "scholars' rebellion against scholarly
publishing practices". He traces the story from the serials pricing
crisis, the rebellion of librarians, the joining of the rebellion by
professors, and the advent of SPARC, PubMed, BioMed Central, Public Library
of Science, and TheScientificWorld. He closes with some assessments of
rebel strategies. He advises that rebels should avoid the mistake of
undermining society publishers as if they were equivalent to the commercial
publishers. He expects more success stories from SPARC, and likes the
original PLoS open letter than its newer plan to publish its own
journals. He calls on STM publishers moderate their price increases and
even moderate their profits.
(Thanks to Walt Crawford.)

* The December/January issue of _Ariadne_ has several FOS-related
articles. I was too busy this week to read them and write summaries.

David Pearson, "Digitization: do we have a strategy?"

Leslie Chan and Barbara Kirsop, "Open Archiving Opportunities for
Developing Countries: Towards Equitable Distribution of Global Knowledge"
(using OAI to distribute texts in developing countries)
(PS: This is the published version of the essay noted in FOSN for 1/16/02.)

Adam Hodgkin, "Reference books on the Web"

Caroline Thibeaud, "Access to Archives: England’s Contribution to the
National Archive Network"

Pete Cliff, "Building ResourceFinder" (using OAI to enhance RDN)

Jenny Rowley, "The JISC User Behaviour Monitoring and Evaluation Framework"

Randy Metcalfe, "My Humbul - Humbul Gets Personal" (see FOSN for 12/19/01)

Paul Browning and Mike Lowndes, "Content Management Systems: Who needs them?"

Paul Miller, "The Concept of the Portal"

* In FOSN for 1/8/02 I described the launch of GetInfo, a new portal and
document delivery service for German science and technology. In my account
I criticized GetInfo for charging access to its preprint archive. I've
since received a response from Benjamin Ahlborn, a spokesman for
GetInfo. "If the author tells us that he wants his document to be free of
charge (as many scientists do) GetInfo has no choice but to comply....Also,
if an author wants to charge for his documents we supply an e-commerce
environment as well as an audience."


GetInfo details on author choice



If you plan to attend one of the following conferences, please share your
observations with us through our discussion forum.

* Secure electronic publishing and data protection
London, January 30

* CIMI Institute Forum. New Developments in Standards for Digital Preservation
Washington, D.C., January 31

* EBLIDA workshop on the national implementation of the EU copyright directive.
London, February 1

* High Quality Information For Everyone And What It Costs
Bielefeld, February 5-7

* International Conference on Bioinformatics 2002: North-South Network
Bangkok, February 6-8

* E-volving Information futures
Melbourne, February 6-8

* Kongress für digitale Inhalte
Wiesbaden, February 7-8

* Book Tech 2002
New York, February 11-13

* "Will Free Expression Survive the Digital Media Revolution?" (A public
panel discussion by EFF attorneys.)
Berkeley, February 12

* Society for Scholarly Publishing, Top Management Roundtable. Successful
Publishing in the Global Environment.
Washington, D.C., February 13-14

* ICSTI Seminar on Digital Preservation of the Record of Science
Paris, February 14-15

* Conference on Intelligent Text Processing and Computational Linguistics
Mexico City, February 17-23

* Wissensmanagement im universitären Bereich
February 19-20

* Symposium on Foundations of Information and Knowledge Systems
Schloß Salzau, February 19-23

* Fifth International Publishers Association Copyright Conference
Accra, Ghana, February 20-22

* Integrating _at_ Internet Speed: Strategies for the Content Community
[conference on reference linking]
Philadelphia, February 24-27

* Getting your message across: How learned societies and other
organizations can influence public and government opinion
London, February 25

* Electronic Journals --Solutions in Sight?
London, February 25-26

* [Public lecture], Will Thomas and Ed Ayers, "The Next Generation of
Digital Scholarship: An Experiment in Form
Washington, D.C., February 27

* A Symposium on the Research Value of Printed Materials in the Digital Age
College Park, Maryland, March 1

* International Spring School on the Digital Library and E-publishing for
Science and Technology
Geneva, March 3-8

* Search Engine Strategies
Boston, March 4-5

* Towards an Information Society for All
Berlin, March 8-9

* 17th ACM Symposium on Applied Computing. Special tracks on Database and
Digital Library Technologies; Electronic Books for Teaching and Learning;
and Information Access and Retrieval
Madrid, March 10-14

* Digitization for Cultural Heritage Professionals: An Intensive Program
Chapel Hill, North Carolina, March 10-15

* EUSDIC Spring Meeting. E-Content: Divide or Rule
Paris, March 11-12

* Knowledge Technologies Conference 2002
Seattle, March 11-13

* Computers in Libraries 2002
Washington D.C., March 13-15

* International Conference on the Statistical Analysis of Textual Data
St. Malo, March 13-15

* The Electronic Publishers Coalition (EPC) conference on ebooks and
epublishing (obscurely titled, Electronically Published Internet
Connection, or EPIC)
Seattle, March 14-16

* Digital Resources and International Information Exchange: East-West
March 15 (Washington DC), 18 (Flushing NY), 20 (Stamford CT)

* Internet Librarian International 2002
London, March 18-20

* The New Information Order and the Future of the Archive
Edinburgh, March 20-23

* Institute of Mueum and Library Services. Building Digital Communities
Baltimore, March 20-22

* Advanced Licensing Workshop
Dallas, March 20-22

* Electronic Publishing Strategy
London, March 22

* OCLC Institute. Steering by Standards. (A series of satellite
Cyberspace. OAI, March 26. OAIS, April 19. Metadata standards in the
future, May 29.

* WebSearch University
San Francisco, March 25-26; Stamford CT, April 30 - May 1; Washington DC,
September 23-24; Chicago, Octeober 22-23; Dallas, November 19-20.

* European Colloquium on Information Retrieval Research
Glasgow, March 25-27

* e-Content: Discovering and Delivering Value
Toronto, March 25-27

* New Developments in Digital Libraries
Ciudad Real, Spain, April 2-3

* The New Information Order and the Future of the Archive
Edinburgh, March 20-23

* Copyright Management in Higher Education: Ownership, Access and Control
Adelphi, Maryland, April 4-5

* International Conference on Information Technology: Coding and Computing
Las Vegas, April 8-10

* NetLab and Friends: 10 Years of Digital Library Development
Lund, April 10-12

* E-Content 2002 (on ebooks)
London, April 11

* International Learned Journals Seminar: We Can't Go On Like This: The
Future of Journals
London, April 12

* SIAM International Conference on Data Mining
Arlington, Virginia, April 11-13

* Creating access to information: EBLIDA workshop on getting a better deal
from your information licences
The Hague, April 12

* United Kingdom Serials Group Annual Conference and Exhibition
University of Warwick, April 15- 17

* EDUCAUSE Networking 2002
Washington, D.C., April 17-18

* Museums and the Web 2002
Boston, April 17-20

* Information, Knowledges and Society: Challenges of A New Era
Havana, April 22-26


The Free Online Scholarship Newsletter is supported by a grant from the
Open Society Institute.


This is the Free Online Scholarship Newsletter (ISSN 1535-7848).

Please feel free to forward any issue of the newsletter to interested
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FOS home page, general information, subscriptions, editorial position

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Guide to the FOS Movement

Sources for the FOS Newsletter

Peter Suber

Copyright (c) 2002, Peter Suber
Received on Wed Jan 30 2002 - 20:55:41 GMT

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