On not conflating the "fair use" agenda with the research impact agenda

From: Stevan Harnad <harnad_at_cogprints.soton.ac.uk>
Date: Mon, 18 Mar 2002 16:03:14 +0000

On Mon, 18 Mar 2002, [identity removed] wrote:
> Stevan Harnad wrote:
> sh> There is a silly sentence at the end of [3] about "redistribution"
> sh> which is about as meaningful and as enforceable as the distinction
> sh> between (publicly!) self-archiving on a "personal" server vs. a
> sh> "public" server. But the clause can do no harm, and if it makes
> sh> ACM's Gutenberg-era copyright lawyers happy, it's quite welcome!
> As it stands, that clause near the end of [3] seems to me to forbid someone
> from printing the article from the author's web site and then making
> multiple copies as part of a course pack for, say, non-networked distance
> learners. But an earlier part of [3] specifies that the copies must be
> "limited to noncommercial distributions and personal use by others". So is
> noncommercial distribution (eg as print copy for educational purposes)
> allowed or not? If someone making a coursepack has to "clear" permission to
> include each paper, this costs a vast amount - not just the fees but the
> staff time, delay and hassle in the transaction.
> What do you think?

I think the ACM permission covers online copies only. Individual users
can print off their own copies of whatever they find online, of course,
but please let us not mix agendas: on-paper and on-line "fair use"
issues such as 2nd-party course packs for teaching will eventually
benefit from the Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI), but their
needs cannot (and should not) be put forward as part of the rationale
or justification for Open Access itself:
They are not part of the justification for Open Access, and should not
be; and if they are mixed into the BOAI in some way, they can and will
only retard progress (both for open access and for fair use).

The SOLE rationale and justification for the BOAI is that the particular
documents in question -- author give-away research -- are written and
given away by their authors for one sole reason: to maximize their
impact on research (i.e., how much they are USED, by being read, cited,
and built-upon by other researchers).

The reason Open Access was not feasible in the on-paper era was that the
real Gutenberg costs of on-paper production and dissemination were just
too big, and had to be paid through access-tolls (purchase, subscription)
if the research was to be circulated at all.

The on-line era has now made it possible for the research to be
produced and disseminated online-only -- in principle, though this is
mostly not yet done in practice: In practice, journal publishers still
produce an on-paper edition, in parallel with their on-line edition,
and they must hence cover the real costs of both. And there is still a
thriving market for the on-paper edition; and it is those revenues that
are also still paying, among other things, for the peer-review (an
essential service).

So by self-archiving their own research -- both their pre-peer-review
preprints and their post-peer-review postprints -- publicly ON-LINE,
researchers can open access to their own work, ON-LINE. For research
access, this is sufficient, as everyone has online access, and printing
off for individual use is permitted.

But paper course packs are an entirely different matter! They are not
on-line individual copies but on-paper multiple copies. They compete
directly with the paper edition of the journal. And they have nothing
to do with the researchers' rationale for self-archiving. (That does
not mean that researchers do not approve of or even applaud them: but
they are a side-issue for research and researchers.)

Nor would researchers' face-valid crusade to maximize their research
impact by maximizing research access to their research output have had
any validity at all if it were simply a crusade for fair use in
2nd-party course-packs for teaching purposes. Most refereed research never
finds its way into teaching course-packs anyway. (Most of it is hardly
even read or used by other researchers, and that is the problem
open-access is meant to remedy!)

But the clearest reason for the dissociation between the movement for
open access for research and researchers and the movement for fair use
for teaching course-packs is that the peer-reviewed research literature
(for most of which there is in any case little demand for teaching
purposes) is exclusively an author-giveaway literature, whereas the
target literature for course-pack use in teaching is far, far bigger,
including decidedly non-give-away literature such as (excerpts from)
textbooks, monographs, and non-give-away periodical contents. There is
no overall rationale for open access to this vast non-give-away

Nor would open-access itself have been feasible apart from the online
medium. The open access movement is focussed exclusively on freeing on-line
access, not on-paper access. If on-paper access were part of the agenda
(and, even worse, if non-give-away literature were targeted too) the
movement would simply collapse.

So please be patient. There will be some trickle-down from the open
access to benefits for teaching use, but teaching use cannot be cited
as one of the reasons for open access now, and if it were, it would have
the opposite effect.

My suggestion is that you make your course-packs online, and let nature
take care of the rest. Where students do not have on-line access, I am
afraid the BOAI cannot help. And we are not trying to prevent
cost-recovery for on-paper editions by generating competing paper editions
(even in the form of 2nd-party course-packs).

Stevan Harnad
Received on Mon Mar 18 2002 - 16:32:41 GMT

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