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RE: Monopolies

Since Joe and others still misunderstand, I will explain as simply as

A weekly newsmagazine is not a monopoly for an individual reader--there
are several to choose from.

With respect to an author, a scholarly journal is not a monopoly--there
are almost always several similar ones to which one can send the article.

With respect to a teacher, a textbook is not a monopoly: in almost any
subject, there are several to choose from.

With respect to a library, the choice of an Integrated Library System is
not a monopoly--there are several similar ones to choose from.

With respect to a library, the choice of a journal aggregator is not a
monopoly--there is a reasonable number to choose from--and, in fact,
rather aggressive competition.

With respect to a library, the choice of a journal for the purposes of
writing an freshman term paper is often not a monopoly--any articles on
the subject no matter from which journal will usually meet the

With respect to an academic reader, the choice of a journal is a monopoly.
If article X was published in a particular scholarly journal, there is no
way to get it from any other journal. IIf the article is in the most
expensive journal, it makes no difference to him.

With respect to a library serving researchers, each individual scholarly
journal is a monopoly. If the user wants an article from X, the user is
looking for that specific article in that journal, and no other article in
that journal or in any other journal will do. If this is a very expensive
journal, it must still be made availab le in some way.  (The journal may
be available through various routes, such as document delivery, but in any
case that journal, and only that journal, is the one that must be paid
for--and often at many times the $7 figure that Jim quotes.)

Such a monopoly is inherent in the publication of academic works:  
mystery novels may be substitutable for some readers, but not scholarly
books or journals.

>From Adam Smith on, all economists have realized that monopolies need
regulation. In some cases, where the monopoly has been establish through
the formation of cartels or similar arrangements, legal measures against
such arrangements suffice. For the case of natural or inherent monopolies,
such measures are ineffective, and some degree of outside regulation of
the monopoly holder is necessary. In the case of printed matter, from the
18th century on, this regulation was by copyright law, giving a legal
monopoly for a specific period, after which anyone could indeed reprint
someone else's book or journal.  This time period has now been extended to
impracticality. Compensating partially for this, the concept of fair use
provides for much scholarly uses of copyrighted material.
Electronic resources are also subject to the ordinary copyright law, but
according to that law, these rights are superseded by specific contract.
And, of course, electronic academic materials are sold subject to such
contracts. Many users and librarians (and possibly publishers)  think that
some of these contracts contradict the purposes of scholarly publishing
and fair use.

Two legal courses are open: one can work for improved contracts, or one
can try to modify the law. Academic libraries and consortia are relatively
large enough that real contract negotiation is often possible, and over
the years the contracts for electronic material have seen a real
improvement in providing the rights scholars need. To the extent that it
is still not enough, the options of further modification of the contracts
and legal reform remain. And a third possibility now exists: an
alternative publication system that will use different contractual
arrangments, and may become highly competitive.

Jan, I, and every responsible person in this discussion agree in not
advocating or following another conceivable way: that of violating
existing contracts and existing law.  I am sure that Joe agrees, but he
should not conclude from this, that there are no legitimate directions for
improvement in existing contracts and existing law. No one is urging that
governments regulate scientific publishing I and others are urging that
governmental and non-governmental sponsors of research, and institutions
where research is done and even required, include the cost of the
dissemination of the material in the cost of the research.

David Goodman