Re: Nature's vs. Science's Embargo Policy

From: Alan Story <>
Date: Fri, 10 Jan 2003 13:21:17 -0000

Yes, but speaking of "nothing new at all": how can BioMed claim to be the
"gold standard" and say it believes in "open access" when there is a flat
fee of US$500 ( a.k.a. the article-processing charge) for admission to the
"open access" club in the first place. BioMed's user-pay toll-gate has just
been moved further up the information superhighway.

Alan Story
Kent Law School
Canterbury UK

-----Original Message-----
From: September 1998 American Scientist Forum
Sent: Friday 10 January 2003 10:06
Subject: Re: Nature's vs. Science's Embargo Policy

I agree with Mike. Nature's new 'licence' is a
'pull-the-wool-over-your-eyes' version of what Elsevier calls the
'give-backs' and is nothing new at all, just a new PR exercise. Clever PR,
to be sure, but certainly nothing like the "[Nature]...again led the
planet's 20,000 peer-reviewed journals in introducing the optimal and
inevitable copyright policy for the online era..." as Stevan would have it.
For a start, the 90 or so peer-reviewed journals published by BioMed Central
have a copyright and licensing policy that can truly be seen as leading: No restrictions on
self-archiving and further dissemination whatsoever. That should be the
'gold-standard', not Nature's feeble attempt to look good without delivering
any substance worth mentioning. Congratulating Nature for putting a new
gloss on basically an old stance seems unnecessary sycophancy to me.

Decribing the new Nature licence as a 'gift horse' that shouldn't be looked
in the mouth (in one of Stevan's earlier messages on this topic) is giving
the wrong impression that the scholarly community should really sit back, be
patient, shut up, swim on, wait what's being given to them and then be
grateful for beads and mirrors. They should simply expect more from
publishing, and demand the right to self-determination of what can be done
with their articles. Besides, there would be no point in looking a dead
horse in the mouth anyway, apart from performing an autopsy.

Of course, authors could always re-format their papers and flip into
'subversive mode' again. They could always do that anyway, and Nature's new
formulation of their restrictions doesn't make that any different.

There is a lot to be cheerful and optimistic about with regard to open
access, but Nature's copyright licence ain't amongst it. The question
remains, if Nature really permits self-archiving (which is what Stevan seems
to believe), why don't they make their research papers available in open
access or at least freely available after a short time (say a month or two)?
There's nothing to be lost for them that cannot be compensated by the gains
they could make from such a policy, in my view. Open access advocates should
keep up the pressure instead of relenting when offered a cigar from their
own box.


> -----Original Message-----
> From: Stevan Harnad []
> Sent: 10 January 2003 03:32
> Subject: Re: Nature's vs. Science's Embargo Policy
> On Thu, 9 Jan 2003, Michael Eisen wrote:
> > NATURE: "How can I show my article to my colleagues? By
> sending a link
> > to the paper on your website. You may not distribute the
> PDF by email,
> > on listservs or on open archives. Please remember that
> although the
> > content of the article is your copyright, its
> presentation (i.e. its
> > typographical layout as a printed page) remains our copyright."
> That's just fine! Run the PDF through a PDF-to-HTML
> converter, reformat it
> trivially, and the layout is yours! (These details are
> utterly *trivial*,
> Mike, whereas the nontrivial, substantive part -- you may put your
> refereed postprint on the web -- is *all* that was ever needed!)
> But I do believe they must have stopped giving lawyers logic
> courses any
> more as part of their degree! "You may not distribute the PDF
> by email.
> Send a link to it on your website instead." Gimme a break!
> And "You may not put it in an 'open archive' but only on a personal
> website?" So my personal website is not allowed to be OAI-compliant?
> This is all papyrophilic juribabble based on defunct anlogies
> with bygone
> days and ways! It makes no sense. It is as technologically innocent
> as it is blissfully free of logic. How can anyone even pretend to take
> it seriously?
> "Your honour, the defendant's computer transferred this
> open-access document
> through the asynchronous sendmail protocol instead of synchronous
> HTTP: Throw the book at him please." (Not to mention that this level
> of monitoring would require something even more intrusive than the
> Patriot Act!)
> > If somehow authors construe this as a license to
> self-archive, that's great.
> > But lets not give Nature credit for something they have not done.
> On the contrary, I think it's a very *good* strategy to give
> Nature full
> credit for what they have done -- to encourage the other journals to
> hurry up and do likewise!
> Cheers (and cheer up!),
> Stevan
Received on Fri Jan 10 2003 - 13:21:17 GMT

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