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RE: NEJM editorial on open access

Dear Joe and jcg,

It is not correct to say the the free public available of an uncopyedited
version after 6 months will cause major cancellations.  I hope someone
from Highwire will correct me if I am wrong, but it is my understanding
that for the many journals they distribute, free availability of the full
published version after 6 months has not lead to significant subscription
losses for the journals concerned.  I think that this can be demonstrated
even without quantitative data: almost all the publishers have continued
this availability, and they surely would not have done so if it were
damaging to their subscription list.  The length of this period for these
journals is not compelled, but is their free choice.

This is not unreasonable for first rate journals, such as those. Those who
want them most want them immediately. It might be significant for journals
which nobody really reads much anyway: I would say that in most scientific
subjects, if researchers do not care whether they see a journal's articles
within the first few months, the journal is essentiallymoribund, and will
be a prime target for cancellation in any case, regardless of OA.  There
should be no regret it if OA causes a faster cancellation of the titles
that are both expensive and virtually useless-- even their publishers may
be better off without them.

But at least in biomedicine, it has been proven that 6 months offers
sufficient protection for a good journal--what remains to be proven is
whether in biomedicine even shorter periods are not sufficient.  In
physics, it has been proven that no embargo period at all is necessary.

I think OA is possible for all publishers of good journals, commercial or
non-commercial, and I would not discourage any. Recent years have seen the
massive flight of capital into , not out of, the commercial publishing
industry, as the purchases of Kluwer and Springer have demonstrated, These
purchases were made with the full awareness of the forthcoming possibility
of OA.  I even suggest that it is possible that "Gold" OA Journals may
prove particularly suited to the commercial publishers, because they have
the capital to keep them going over the transition, whereas not all
societies do.

There are a wide range of possibilities with the introduction of OA, and
we shall soon see which of them will be realised. But there are some that
are not probable, and the immediate massive cancellation of good journals
is among them--I would regard it as about equally likely as the immediate
adoption of OA Journals by all publishers. There may be fundamental
changes, and they may happen during the next 5 years or so, but this gives
publishers of all types sufficient time to adapt the way they do business.  
I cannot imagine a publisher so unaware that it has not begun planning
some time ago.

Dr. David Goodman
Associate Professor
Palmer School of Library and Information Science
Long Island University

-----Original Message-----
From: owner-liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu on behalf of jcg
Sent: Thu 10/21/2004 6:50 PM
To: liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu; Joseph Esposito
Subject: Re: NEJM editorial on open access
If it is private capital seeking profit, I would indeed say that this
hypothetical flight of capital would be an excellent thing.


Jean-Claude Gu�don

On Tue October 19 2004 06:13 pm, Joseph Esposito wrote:
> The "this" is the distinction between having no copyright at all and
> having the limited copyright that is implicit in the NIH proposal, at
> least as I understand it.  The NIH apparently is insisting that for
> articles based on NIH-funded research, the authors are free to assign only
> NONEXCLUSIVE rights to a publisher after six months have elapsed (but six
> months from when?  That is not clear to me).  There is a distinction in
> this formulation between this limited copyright and no copyright.  But
> there is no practical difference in that libraries and some individuals
> will begin cancelling subscriptions when they see more and more articles
> becoming available at no charge after six months, accessible to anyone who
> can Google for them.  Hence a distinction without a difference.
> This is not an argument, incidentally, against either Open Access (of
> whatever flavor) or the NIH proposal.  It simply is a plea that we accept
> the consequences of our actions, which in this case will be the flight of
> capital from scholarly publishing.  Some would say that this is a good
> thing.
> Joe Esposito