Re: Draft IFLA Manifesto on Open Access

From: Jan Velterop <jan_at_BIOMEDCENTRAL.COM>
Date: Mon, 31 Mar 2003 15:36:58 +0100

I very much welcome the IFLA manifesto. Of course, the wording could be
improved, as everything can always be improved, and that's exactly why a
draft was sent out. Of course IFLA takes a library view and not purely an
author-one, and that is reflected in the points of their manifesto. That it
should be 'doomed to fail' is unnecessarily gloomy and unwarranted. The
sheer fact that the IFLA puts its name under a manifesto expressing
commitment to open access is highly significant.

Clearly, maximum research impact is the goal. Also of IFLA. Because academic
authors are not the only agents in the game. Authors may 'decide' to 'give
away' their papers, but is it truly 'giving away' and is it solely up to
them? Or are they 'giving' their papers away in the way a company 'gives'
away their advertisements? Authors *need* to 'give' away their papers for
the sake of their careers. They do not 'give' away, but they are (rightly)
being rewarded, albeit in the currency of impact, not money. Because the
currency of impact, not money, 'buys' them career progress. Their papers
also include an account of research done and a justification of resources
spent (their papers being 'the minutes' of their research). Doesn't that
give the funder and facilitator (the university or research institute) a say
in the matter? At least potentially? Their reputations also benefit from
research impact, after all. They are in a position to make a material
difference to the way open access is progressing. The IFLA manifesto may be
more successful in influencing funders and institutions than earlier
author-oriented manifestoes have been, for the simple reason that it comes
from IFLA.

Jan Velterop

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Stevan Harnad []
> Sent: 31 March 2003 14:49
> Subject: Re: Draft IFLA Manifesto on Open Access
> On Sun, 30 Mar 2003, Downes, Stephen wrote:
> >sh> From: Stevan Harnad []
> >
> >sh> It is highly desirable and commendable to be committed to the
> >sh> widest possible access to information. But in order to
> >sh> promote *open access* it is essential to be far more specific
> >sh> about the *nature* of the information. In particular, the
> >sh> IFLA Manifesto is doomed to fail and to be ignored if it does
> >sh> not make a specific and explicit distinction between
> >sh> information that its creator *does* wish to give away, and
> >sh> information its creator does *not* wish to give away. (Notice
> >sh> that I said *creator* and not *publisher*.)
> >sh>
> >
> > I find this objection somewhat odd.
> >
> > Libraries legally acquire information - this is manifest in
> the third point
> > of the declaration. They then loan this material free of
> charge to people
> > who wish to read it. This has been the function of
> libraries for decades.
> >
> > The objection stated above seems to imply that this
> direction has been
> > misguided, and that libraries should provide access to
> information only
> > if the creator of the content sanctions this use.
> Not at all. The objection above simply points out that *Open
> Access* is
> not the same as -- and should not be conflated with -- *Fair
> Use*. Fair
> Use is a 3rd-party matter, involving libraries (and users),
> not authors
> (1st party), nor even publishers (2nd party, although they
> are of course
> part of the negotations). Open Access, in contrast, is a 1st-party
> matter: It is *authors* who are giving away their refereed research in
> order to maximize its usage and impact. Fair Use covers far
> more of the
> literature, much of it not consisting of author give-aways at all.
> Please see the definition of "open access" in the BOAI
> initiative to see
> how it differs from "fair use" or "fair dealing."
> Open Access and Fair Use are not altogether orthogonal, in the sense
> that both are concerned with trying to maximize access and
> usage -- but
> there the resemblance (so far superficial and uninformative) stops. It
> is in the differences and the details that a coherent agenda for Open
> Access (not Fair Use) emerges. To conflate the two would
> simply make the
> IFLA Open Access Manifesto incoherent and ineffectual. (If
> the IFLA also
> has a Fair Use Manifesto, it should make it separately! Fair
> Use is not
> only not the same as Open Access, it applies to a different
> corpus. And
> indeed for Open Access materials, Fair Use is moot -- because
> free public
> online access trumps 3rd-party fair use.)
> > Why should a creator obtain this new right? Why should the
> historical
> > function of the library now be limited? How could the declaration be
> > considered "doomed to failure" when it is, at heart, reflective of a
> > library's traditional practice?
> Why whould the author of a book have the right to say he would rather
> not make it freely accessible to everyone online? I think I will have
> to let authors speak for themselves on that matter.
> > It could be argued - and I would argue - that content
> creators do not
> > a priori own all possible rights associated with a work.
> There are limits
> > on such rights, a tacit recognition that the creation is a
> product not
> > only of the author but also of the history and culture of
> the society
> > in which it was produced.
> This all sounds fine if stated in this abstract way, but let's be more
> specific about it: There is this brilliant paragraph that I
> could write,
> and people would like to read, and would be willing to pay to
> read. But
> because of a "recognition that the creation is a product not
> only of the
> author but also of the history and culture of the society in which it
> was produced" I am allowed to try to sell it on paper, as always, but
> it must be made openly accessible online, whether I like it or not,
> even though this may well kill off *all* of its potential
> sales, and all
> of my potential royalty income.
> My guess -- I am not an expert here, as nothing could be more
> remote from
> the case of give-away refereed research, written only for
> research impact,
> not royalty income, which is the only case on which I [or the
> BOAI] have
> anything substantive to say -- my guess is that such a non-give-away
> author, faced with the prospect of being unable to sell his paragraph
> any more, would instead turn to another line of creative work if he
> could, maybe making patent medicines: a line of creative work that
> has not been declared to be part of the "collective cultural heritage"
> simply in virtue of the fact that it is digital rather than analog.
> > There is a specific need, which libraries fulfill, to
> ensure that at the
> > very least *access* - if not ownership - to information,
> any information,
> > is made available to all members of a society, regardless
> of income. Even
> > the most expensive journal may now be acquired by any
> library and thereby
> > read by any person at no cost whatsoever to the reader. Why
> should this
> > change?
> But that is not called "Open Access," it is called
> Toll-Access-Licensing. The library pays the license-tolls for access,
> negotiated with publishers, usually as a function of the size of its
> institutional readership.
> If the IFLA has a Licensing Manifesto, it should make it separately,
> possibly jointly with its Fair Use Manifesto; but certainly
> not its Open
> Access Manifesto.
> > I think that this is what the declaration is trying to
> express. And I do
> > not think it is an unreasonable goal.
> Neither Fair Use nor Licensing is Open-Access.
> Stevan Harnad
> >
> --------------------------------------------------------------
> --------------
> > Stephen Downes ~ Senior Researcher ~ National Research
> Council Canada
> > Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada
> >
> >
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> > about online knowledge, learning, community
> >
> > or read it at
> >
> --------------------------------------------------------------
> --------------
> NOTE: A complete archive of the ongoing discussion of providing open
> access to the peer-reviewed research literature online is available at
> the American Scientist September Forum (98 & 99 & 00 & 01 & 02):
> or
> Discussion can be posted to:
> See also the Budapest Open Access Initiative:
> the BOAI Forum:
> the Free Online Scholarship Movement:
> the OAI site:
> and the free OAI institutional archiving software site:
Received on Mon Mar 31 2003 - 15:36:58 BST

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