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RE: Wellcome Trust report

I'm afraid this is a red herring. The issue is not that commercial
publishing has no place in science; the issue is that monopoly has no
place in science (or in a true free market, for that matter). The
essential elements of competition and choice are lacking in the
traditional publishing system. Open Access publishing, with choice on the
side of the party with the economic/financial input, restores competition
and so undermines monopolistic exploitation and reduces price and profit
to levels that can be accepted widely as fair.

Publishing has to be seen as a cost of doing research. Without the
resulting publication, the research has just not taken place, to all
intents and purposes. In that sense, the cost of publishing may even be
compared with that of laboratory glassware, reagents, and the like (and
quite possibly a lot cheaper). I haven't heard anyone argue that glassware
and other laboratory expendables should be provided on a non-profit basis.
Why not? They are subject to proper competition!

Jan Velterop

> -----Original Message-----
> From: jcg [mailto:jean.claude.guedon@umontreal.ca]
> Sent: 04 June 2004 05:46
> To: liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu; Joseph J. Esposito
> Subject: Re: Wellcome Trust report
> Thank you for this clarification. Never had I seen the fundamental
> divergence between the academic agenda and the commercial publishers
> exposed so clearly and yet so pithily.
> The point about capitalism is not that capitalism does not 
> have a place in our societies; it is that it does not and cannot occupy 
> all of the social space.  Scholarly and scientific communication are not 
> served by being integrated to capitalism. Making capitalism look 
> "natural" in the context of scholarly publishing is not a reality or a 
> truth; it is a claim or, at best, a thesis.
> Once you note that commercial publishers may be eminently 
> "out of place" in scholarly communication, it all becomes very clear: 
> the only reason we deal with them is that they command an all too real 
> power position in academic publishing. In the end, it all comes down to 
> (economic) power.
> Nothing new here, except that it might be worthwhile to reassert that
> capitalism is not a natural state of affairs and that it did 
> not emerge on the 8th day of creation. Neither does it enjoy universal 
> validity.
> Jean-Claude Gu�don