Harvesting open-access data as commercial add-ons

From: Stevan Harnad <harnad_at_ecs.soton.ac.uk>
Date: Fri, 15 Feb 2002 19:07:17 +0000

> >Scirus.com, the web search engine for scientific information launched by
> >Elsevier Science last April, has now made 180.000 e-prints from arXiv.org
> >(formerly xxx.lanl.gov) available to its users. The e-prints of arXiv.org
> >were harvested using the Protocol for Metadata Harvesting of the Open
> >Archive Initiative. Scirus has just been voted Best Specialty Search Engine
> >in the prestigious Search Engine Awards 2001, and is planning to add
> >additional OAI sources to its index in the near future to broaden its
> >coverage further.

This is a very, very clever move by Elsevier -- but it does not affect
the Budapest Open Access Initiative one way or the other. It's in
strict keeping with Elsevier's (and others') "value-added" strategy for
trying to hold onto their cash cow (a trojan cow!).

It illustrates two things: (1) the value (once again) of the
self-archived literature and (2) the generality of "open access": For
if material is openly accessible and harvestable via OAI, including
even full-text material, there is nothing to prevent commercial
re-packagers from harvesting and using it, like any other user.
(Why not? They are welcome to do it!)

But it is not any sort of threat to open access efforts; on the
contrary, it encourages them. (And the trouble with hitching one's
fate to these value-added add-ons for a commercial product is that
one is always at risk from a non-commercial OAI service-provider --
such as http://citebase.eprints.org/ -- providing the same value, and
even more, for free! So it may not save the cash cow for long...)

Stevan Harnad
Received on Fri Feb 15 2002 - 19:07:34 GMT

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