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Re: Open Access and For-Pay Access (to the same IR materials)

On Wed, 20 Apr 2005, Ann Okerson wrote:

> At a meeting last week of consortial directors and representatives, an
> interesting topic was raised.  One consortium had developed a
> specialized (in subject) institutional repository using a particular
> vendor's IR software.  The content in this consortium's IR is available
> to the world for free and that will not change; the consortium and
> authors arecommitted to this.  At the same time, the vendor is marketing
> the software in a way that content developed and made available through
> the IR software by all of the vendor's IR customers can be cross
> searched with some nice enhancements - for a fee.  This set off quite a
> conversation.

And the moral is quite straightforward: Why resort to such (un-named)
"vendors" at all, when the most widely used "IR software" (Eprints,
Dspace, CDSware, etc.) is free, wiith no hidden catches?


And what's wrong with cross-searching with the OAI protocol? (That was
what it was designed for.)

And I wouldn't want to try to build a business these days based on a
for-fee searching service over OA archive contents, because be my product
ever so spiffy for the moment, it is a foregone conclusion that (many)
enterprising grad students will soon top it with a better search tool, and
for free.

> o One side reasoned that owners of the IRs should/could refuse to have
> their content participate, even passively, in such a commercial setting,
> as antithetical to their desires when they set up the IR.

Doesn't matter in the slightest. OA content is OA content. If someone
thinks he can sell a service on top of it, let him try. If he succeeds,
he's got something people find useful enough to buy. If he fails (or a
grad student tops him the next day), that's business...

> o Others reasoned that owners of the IRs should/could cooperate with the
> IR software vendor to assure that the content can be included (author
> permissions, etc.) so that authors can also get the benefit of better,
> more focused search and services.

No need for the IR to either cooperate or thwart: OA content is OA
content. If it's there, online, OAI-compliant, free, and harvestable, it's
there. The primary content-providers (the authors and their copyright
co-holders) can of course challenge the use of their particular piece of
content for illegal commercial or political purposes, but that's not the
business of the OA Archives. They just provide a means for their authors
to provide Open Access to their articles.

> Any thoughts about this kind of situation?  There is a lot of potential
> for a lot of re-use, re-purposing, upgrading of works that are freely
> available.  It's a new world we're entering. Ann Okerson/Yale Library

Potential there is. But when the works are themselves all OA, and freely
available to all directly, it puts some limits on cash-in aspirations that
will bring some surprises disappointments to those who try to over-reach
their grasp in this unfamiliar new world.

Patience. The 1st, 2nd, and Nth priority today is getting OA content up
from its current 10-20% level to 100%. No need to worry about pre-empting
pipe-dreams about commercial cash-cows. Just keep pumping those OA
articles! The OA will take care of itself.

Stevan Harnad