Heidelberg Appeal Pealed

From: Stevan Harnad <amsciforum_at_GMAIL.COM>
Date: Tue, 5 May 2009 22:53:56 -0400

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Professor Eberhard Hilf has noted that the drafter of the Heidelberg
Appeal (a double-barrelled petition directed indifferently both
against google book-scanning and against providing Open Access to
research journal articles in Germany), Professor Roland Reiss,
himself provides open access to his own journal articles:
      EH: "Just to add: Mr. Reuss, in his role as Professor of
      history, has of course posted digital copies of all his
      scholarly articles on his institutional server (with a
      link to the publisher for ordering a printed copy if

      "This is Kafkaesque: Lying on one's back, one says, just
      as the lobbyists do, that OA is the "devils' gift,"
      whereas standing on one's feet as a scholar, one provides

      "By the way, Reuss's research field is Kafka."

What has happened, is that Professor Reiss has made two fundamental
confusions: He has confused (1) Open Access (which concerns journal
articles) with google book-scanning, and he has confused (2)
author-intended give-aways with author-unintended rip-offs.

It is quite astonishing that a scholar rushes to draft a petition
rather than first gathering a clear understanding of what he is
petitioning about. 

To paraphrase Professor Hilf (who puts it in his own colorful way),
this is the downside of the internet (if not also of the scholarly
intellect), which can do so much good when used in a rational,
rigorous way, and so much harm when used wrecklessly and

Below is a clause by clause critique of Professor Reuss's Heidelberg



      (a petition launched in Germany by Roland Reuss, U.

            "Currently the fundamental right of authors
            vouched for in the constitution to publish
            freely and of their own volition is under
            considerable attack and sustained threat."

This blanket statement about ?authors? in general completely
conflates (1) legitimate worries about consumer piracy of authors?
non-giveaway writings (such as books written for royalty) with (2)
the author give-away of peer-reviewed research journal articles,
which is what the Open Access movement is about.

Nor are authors? rights to publish whatever they wish, wherever they
wish, in any way under attack, or at issue.
            "At the international level, intellectual
            property is being stolen from its producers
            to an unimagined degree and without
            criminalisation through the illegal
            publication of works protected by German
            copyright law on platforms such as
            GoogleBooks and YouTube. "

This refers to consumer piracy of authors? non-give-away writings, a
subject of legitimate concern, but completely unrelated to the
movement for Open Access to researchers? give-away journal articles?
            "At national level, the so-called ?Alliance
            of German Scientific Organisations? (members:
            Wissenschaftsrat, Deutsche
            Forschungsgemeinschaft, Leibniz-Gesellschaft,
            Max Planck-Institute etc.) is propagandising
            for wide-ranging interference with the
            freedom of the press and the freedom to
            publish, the consequences of which are
            contrary to the basic law."

This refers to the efforts by these institutions to make
peer-reviewed research journal articles Open Access ? freely
accessible online -- so that they can be read, used, applied and
cited by all would-be users and not just by those whose institutions
can afford to subscribe to the journal in which they were published.
This is all author give-away writing, for which the author does not
seek or get (and never has sought or gotten) a penny of royalty from
sales revenue; the author seeks only maximal uptake and impact.
Freedom of the press and freedom to publish are in no respect at
issue here.
            "Authors and publishers reject all attempts
            to, and practices that, undermine copyright.
            That copyright is fundamental for literature,
            art and science, for the basic right to
            freedom of research and teaching, as well as
            for press freedom and the freedom to publish.
            In the future too, it must be writers,
            artists, scientists, in brief, all creative
            people themselves, who decide if and where
            their works should be published. Any
            constraint or coercion to publish in a
            certain form is as unacceptable as the
            political toleration of pirate copies,
            currently being produced in huge numbers by

Authors are free to publish whatever they wish, wherever they wish.
And no one is undermining copyright, particularly for non-give-away,
royalty-seeking work (such as most books, and journalists? fee-based
articles), where the author?s copyright penalizes piracy. 

But not all authors seek to sell their writing for royalty or fees.
The 2.5 million articles a year published in the planet?s 25,000
peer-reviewed research journals (in all disciplines, countries and
languages) are all creator give-aways, written solely for uptake and
usage in further research. Their authors want copyright to protect
theirauthorship and the integrity of their texts (e.g., from
plagiarism or alteration), but they want to give away their texts
free online so that all would-be users can access and use them.

There is no constraint whatsoever on these give-away authors: They
are not royalty-seeking book-authors, fee-based journalists, or other
creators of digital works for sale. 

The funders of the research (including the tax-paying public whose
money is being used to pay for the conduct of the research) and the
employers of the researchers (universities and research institutions,
who pay their salaries) also share these give-away authors' interest
in maximizing the access and usage of their joint research output.
?Publish or Perish? reflects the longstanding academic mandate (long
predating the digital era) for scholars and scientists to conduct
research and make public their findings, so they can be used and
built upon, by other scholars and scientists, to the benefit of all,
in the collective, cumulative growth of learned inquiry. These
authors are already being rewarded, in their careers and their
research support, for their research productivity as well as for the
uptake and impact of their research findings. Open Access maximizes

It is for this reason that in the online era research funders and
universities the world over ? but not yet in Germany ? are beginning
to adopt policies that mandate that researchers provide Open Access
to their (give-away) peer-reviewed research articles (not their
[non-give-away] books!) by self-archiving them, free for all, on the

These Open Access mandates are needed not to force authors to give
away their articles (they do that already, more than willingly) but
to reinforce their inclination to make their give-away freely
accessible to all on the web. 

This inclination needs reinforcement because some authors imagine
that it is illegal for them to make their articles freely accessible
online, others imagine that their journals will not allow it, and
still others imagine that self-archiving entails a lot of work. The
mandates formalize the fact that providing Open Access is legal,
that at least 63% of journals already formally endorse authors making
their articles Open Access immediately upon publication, and another
34% endorse it after a temporary embargo period (during
which automatized email eprint requests can take care of immediate
research usage needs) and that it takes only a few minutes to
self-archive an article.

Dr. Reuss presumably knows all this, because he already self-archives
his give-away articles to make them Open Access on the web too. He
simply has not put two and two together, because he has conflated
Open Access policies with google book-scanning and has not taken the
trouble to do the research that would have made him realize that they
are completely different things. Instead, he drafts this incoherent
petition to treat both Open Access and google copyright issues as if
they were the same sort of thing.

In contrast, international surveys of authors in all disciplines
(humanities included) have repeatedly confirmed that 95% of authors
would make their give-away journal articles OA (over 80% of them
willingly) if their universities and/or funders were to mandate it.
They need the mandates to give them the confidence and initiative to
do it. And an appeal to the EC vastly larger than the Heidelberg
Appeal has been signed by tens of thousands of researchers and their
institutions petitioning the EC to mandate OA!
            "Never in history has the number of
            publications, books, magazines and electronic
            publications been as large as it is today,
            and never has the freedom of decision of
            authors been guaranteed to such a high
            degree. The ?Alliance of German Scientific
            Organisations? wants to obligate authors to
            use a specified mode of publication. This is
            not conducive to the improvement of
            scientific information."

The ?mode of publication? is simply the mode of publication authors
already use ? publishing in the peer-reviewed journal of their choice
? augmented by making the published article Open Access. 

(In fairness, it must also be noted that there is
some confusion among Open Access proponents too, about how they are
advocating that articles be made Open Access. The ?Green Road? to
Open Access is for authors to publish their articles in the
traditional journals of their choice, and then to make their
peer-reviewed, accepted final drafts freely accessible online, by
self-archiving them in their institution?s Open Access repository.
The ?Gold Road? to Open Access is for authors to publish their
articles in an ?Open Access journal,? which is a journal that makes
all of its articles freely accessible online. The choice of journal,
however, remains entirely up to the author. So what is being
advocated is not a ?mode of publication,? but a mode
of access-provision ? having published the article when and where the
author chooses.)

Hence no one is proposing to constrain in any way authors? choice in
what to publish, when, where or how. Open Access mandates are
concerned only with modes of maximizing access to the chosen mode of
publication (and only for give-away peer-reviewed research articles).
            "The undersigned appeal emphatically to the
            Federal Government and to the governments of
            the federal states for a resolute defence,
            with all the means at their disposal, of
            existing copyright and of the freedom to
            publish, to research and to teach.
            Politicians have the obligation to enforce,
            at national and international level, the
            individual rights and aspirations linked with
            the production of artistic and scientific
            works. The freedom of literature, art and
            science is a major constitutional asset. If
            we loose it, we loose our future."

Open Access is completely compatible with existing copyright. All it
requires is that publishers should not try to deprive give-away
authors of the right to make their give-away articles accessible
online free for all, by self-archiving them, as Herr Reuss does. Why,
then, is Herr Reuss petitioning against this author?s right under the
confused banner of defending authors? rights and freedom?

Stevan Harnad
American Scientist Open Access Forum
Received on Wed May 06 2009 - 03:55:35 BST

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