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

From: Arthur P. Smith <apsmith_at_APS.ORG>
Date: Sun, 3 Mar 2002 22:23:09 -0500

My father (who lives in Canada and reads the Globe & Mail regularly)
was just asking me about this article :-) I hope Andrew Odlyzko
was misquoted on the "do the same thing for $100,000"! Perhaps he'll
explain himself...

Anyway, on a somewhat related topic, I have a question for Stevan
and the others who propose continuing to use journal publication
as a stamp of approval on the free literature: What mechanism
is proposed for ensuring the validity of the "published in ... journal"
stamp? Currently the arXiv approach is a bit of a mix, but I believe
mostly the journal publication information is supplied by authors
rather than by the publishers. Is this a potential problem? We've
talked a bit about the issue of minor differences between the published
and "arXiv" versions - but what about the potential for abuse? If the
information is author-controlled then an author could easily pad
his "publication" list with invalid references to a few obscure journals
that almost nobody subscribes to any more. Or perhaps even
"valid" references to papers with slightly or completely different
author lists (the published version missing this particular author...),
slightly different titles, etc... The traditional argument I believe is
that such abuses would be caught, but would they, if most users trust the
arXiv rather than going to published journal sites? And even if
caught, could it take years, long enough for an malfeasant author to
accumulate significant grant funding, research salary, etc.?

The ultimate solution is to ensure that the journal references
are placed by responsible parties - either the journal publishers
themselves, or perhaps secondary abstracting/indexing publishers
(though those can also be guilty of egregious errors in their databases),
or perhaps by groups of established and authenticated research libraries.
Would journal publishers actually be motivated to publicly place
even that much data in a free system? We've done some things along
these lines (various agreements in astrophysics and bio-medicine for
example) but normally we expect some sort of payment or quid
pro quo for exchange of our publication database information with
another party. What's the benefit to publishers here? Would there
be any benefit for secondaries? And as for the third option - would
research libraries be up to the tedious data entry tasks (SLAC's SPIRES
has done this for high energy physics, but I'm not aware of other

Or is just allowing authors to insert journal publication data sufficient?

        Arthur Smith (
Received on Mon Mar 04 2002 - 10:12:32 GMT

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