Friday, August 26, 2011

The First Free Research-Sharing Site, arXiv, Turns 20 With an Uncertain Future

The electronic disciplinary repository turns 20 years old this month. arXiv, one of the earliest and most successful efforts of the Open Access movement, is a pre-print repository serving the physical sciences, math, astronomy, computer science, quantitative biology and statistics. Boston College as a supporting institution provides financial help to arXiv.

The Chronicle of Higher Education recently published a short piece celebrating arXiv's 20th birthday. Excerpts:
. . . . ArXiv, back in 1991 and still today, focuses on physics. “The original plan was for roughly 100 full-text article submissions each year,” writes Mr. Ginsparg, who works at Cornell University. Today the site gets about 75,000 of these “preprints” every year, and it serves up about one million full-text downloads to about 400,000 users every week. It holds roughly 700,000 texts. . . .

Friday, August 5, 2011

Hirtle on HathiTrust and orphan works

In this interesting interview, Peter Hirtle, who wrote the book on Copyright and Cultural Institutions, talks about HathiTrust and the work involved in finding copyright holders of orphan works.

Available at

Monday, August 1, 2011

Shieber on Guerrilla Open Access

Stuart Shieber posted a very sensible comment on the Aaron Swartz JSTOR dowloading case.
His fear is that Swartz's actions will provide more ammunition to open access opponents:
Finally, and most importantly, this kind of action is ineffective. As Peter Suber predicted in a trenchant post that we can now see as prescient, it merely has the effect of tying the legitimate, sensible, economically rational, and academically preferable approach of open access to memes of copyright violation, illegality, and naiveté. There are already sufficient attempts to inappropriately perform this kind of tying; we needn’t provide further ammunition. Unfortunate but completely predictable statements like “It is disappointing to see advocates of OA treat this person as some kind of hero.” tar those who pursue open access with the immorality and illegality that self-proclaimed guerrillas exhibit. In so doing, guerrilla OA is not only ineffective, but counterproductive.

Note -- the Suber post begins with a guerrilla manifesto attributed to Swartz -- but Suber goes on to take issue with the illegal acts advocated.
I have three basic reasons: (1) OA is already lawful and doesn't require the reform or violation of copyright law, even if it could leap forward with the right reforms. (2) OA activists will never match the publishing industry's funds for litigation. (3) One of the most persistent and harmful misunderstandings of OA is that it violates copyright law. We've come a long way in educating policy-makers out of that misunderstanding. But the Orwellian Fair Copyright in Research Works Act (a.k.a. Conyers bill) is just one recent piece of evidence that we still have a lot of educating to do and that publishers can still make a lot of hay from the misunderstandings which remain. A campaign to give the publishing lobby its first valid evidence that OA violates copyright is the last thing we need.