From: "Seeley, Mark (ELS-CMA)" <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Thu, 3 Mar 2016 15:42:22 +0000
When I look at scholarly publishing, I think the current system is
digital, nuanced and highly networked. Looking at some recent posts I
get the impression that critics of publishing paint a picture of
adaptive failure-- that's far from the case. Researchers are able to
follow links to references and now increasingly data. Editors
identify potential peer reviewers through online systems. Publishing
is faster than ever. Much of this infrastructure is based on revenue
from publishing business models. Supply-side payments (Gold OA) are
becoming increasingly important and are moving into a complementary
phase to subscription revenue. Access to published content is
incredibly high at most institutions in developed and fast-developing
markets. With respect to low-income developing markets, publishers
have many programs out there to support libraries through the
Research4Life program [and others] as you all know. Subscription and
transactional access (pay per view, rental models etc) models will
continue to rely on exclusive rights/copyright, as it's difficult to
sell something that someone else is giving away.
This infrastructure absolutely depends on the work of researchers and
academics themselves, serving as editors and reviewers (and of course
in the first place as authors). On the journal side, scholarly
publishers are well aware that article authors are looking for
visibility and a good service, and to be successful, journals need to
provide such services. Journals also need to find means to support
authors who want to make their preprints available, work with
institutional repositories and comply with funding agency
requirements, means that wouldn't seriously undermine business models.
If we can't find the right balance, then publishers won't be able to
afford to maintain their investments in the infrastructure noted
above, which in my opinion would be a net negative for research and
Universities have never stopped being publishers themselves, to my
knowledge, and I think new efforts and steps have been taken along
these lines-- you can think of the SPARC-PLOS alliance for example.
Sci-Hub/LibGen is about both journal content and book content, and as
many have pointed out obtains this content through security holes at
university sites. There are lots of reasons why these activities are
problematic for publishers, societies, authors and universities as has
been pointed out in prior posts here and on Scholarly Kitchen.
The point re changes in US copyright law in the 19th century is an
incredibly good one-- but of course the way I see it is that as the
young Republic began to be a net exporter of publications we started
to think more about being more protective of "foreigners" works in the
US-- entirely appropriately as I am sure Charles Dickens would agree.
The US has an incredibly vital information and entertainment
infrastructure, and probably leads the world in the production of
copyright content, an important part of our balance of trade.
Dismantling such a system seems like a recipe for adaptive failure--
we should instead look for a more thoughtful evolution.
Mark Seeley, Senior Vice President & General Counsel
50 Hampshire Street, 5th Floor, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA
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