Re: PR's 'pit bull' takes on open access: excerpts from article in Nature Magazine

From: Bernard Lang <>
Date: Sun, 28 Jan 2007 02:27:12 +0100


Though I have been arguing for open archiving (on the very small scale
on my own institution) for more than 10 years, I must say that Peter's
argument is not entirely wrong, but not entirely true. The fact is
that as long as publishers are providing a necessary service, they
must recoup the cost and are entitled to a profit margin ... if only
to evolve their business (and investment risk can also be paid). This
is not all paid by the tax payer, even though researchers contribute
heavily to the process.

When the profit margin reaches 30%, as some do (or did), I do feel
that the taxpayer is paying more than he should. Furthermore,
nowadays, other publishing model are possible, some cheaper, and need
to be experimented.

But the better argument is more one of freedom and economic
efficiency. Like any other form of property, intellectual property
restrict access, and is thus purely counter-productive when it is not
the basis of the creator's income (which is the major reason why IP is
protected in other areas like music ... but this requires a more
careful discussion) because a lesser access reduces the usefulness of
the creation, which is by nature non rival.

It is unfortunate that many people will be more sensitive to the weak
argument, and less to the stronger one.



my involvement in open access is limited because I spend my energy on
promoting free software. But the issue is essentially identical. And
there are economic models for software development that are
essentially the same as for scientific knowledge development (what we
usually call "research" :-)

It is very possible that software publishers are just a historical
accident that will not last very long.

             Le brevet logiciel menace votre entreprise
               Software patents threaten your company
    Soutenez la Majorité Économique - Support the Economic Majority
         ,_ /\o \o/ Tel +33 1 3963 5644 ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Fax +33 1 3963 5469
            INRIA / B.P. 105 / 78153 Le Chesnay CEDEX / France
         Je n'exprime que mon opinion - I express only my opinion
Received on Sun Jan 28 2007 - 04:44:10 GMT

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Fri Dec 10 2010 - 19:48:42 GMT