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


On your first point; clearly there is a lot of information available for
free on the internet but in many cases, including CNN, their internet
offering is a useful and cost effective way of a profit making entity
extending its brand. CNN is probably one of the most commercial of all
broadcasters and can only afford to give free access to its news online
because it makes so much money through other TV channels. None of the
product you can view for free on the internet is material that they aren't
earning money on elsewhere. I guess what I am trying to say here is that
no-one gives something for nothing; there'll be a profit motive somewhere,
just as there is with CNN.

I work for a small research organization and have done for the last four
years. My own experience is that gradual erosion of public access
information is taking place, and what was once available for free is
starting to be restricted. The most prominent case that springs to mind is
www.FT.com, that only 2 years ago was completely free. Now you can read I
would estimate 20% of what is on the site for free but you have to pay for
the rest. Because of the high quality of the content and the necessity to
us of the product we didn't have to think twice to pay. I think it is
still early days as far as this process goes.

On your second point: what you are essentially proposing is very similar
to nationalization and state control. I don't need to tell you that 20th
Century history is littered with examples of well meaning attempts to run
utilities and services in the public good with no profit. Almost all have
either been sold off privately or are performing so poorly and are so
under funded that they won't last much longer. (Our own UK higher
education system and health service spring to mind.) Centrally controlled
and regulated industries tend to become inefficient, lose the ability to
innovate, (which is the key to the success of commercial organizations)
pay their staff poorly and become increasingly bureaucratic through time.

My own experience of academic institutions, gathered through my own
studies is that they are not even close to possessing the level of
commercial acumen found in the large publishing firms. And I would suggest
that commercial acumen is at least as essential to "cost recovery"
publishing as it is to "for profit" publishing. I am of course referring
to the production, distribution and marketing side of academic publishing
and not just the research. If the money (profit) walks out of an industry,
the human capital that made that organization so effective in the first
place is usually not far behind.

Thanks for the response,

Tristan Chapple

-----Original Message-----
From: owner-liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu
[mailto:owner-liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu] On Behalf Of brs4@lehigh.edu
Sent: 02 May 2005 01:36
To: liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu
Subject: RE: Open Access and For-Pay Access (to the same IR materials)

A question related to below: I'm not convinced that the effect is as
pronounced as you suggest. Many people routinely read the news on CNN
online, for free, without paying for premium content. If one wants news,
one gets it for free without having to pay for enhanced coverage, even if
this is an option for those who want it.

In any case, if academic entities get involved in publishing with the
intent of blocking some of the impetus and sway of market forces, their
intent being to operate publishing on a cost-recovery basis primarily,
might this mute the effect you describe below? I realize however how the
best of intentions can be corrupted over time.

Brian Simboli

Quoting Tristan Chapple <tristan@pamp.co.uk>:

> Re: Joe Espositos comments:
> How can peer review take place post publication? Regardless of whether a
> highly regarded journal is author pays or subscription, surely what
> makes it highly regarded in the first place is an implicit assurance
> from the publisher to the reader that the articles are of the highest
> quality. It's not for the busy time-poor reader to sort the wheat from
> the chaff. I don't see how assurances about quality can be provided if
> articles are not peer reviewed prior to being published - digitally or
> otherwise.
> As a follow-up point I'd draw your attention to free online news
> services: in the early days of the 'net the likes of the FT.com and
> other news providers were free of charge. As soon as consumers started
> to use online information and data as routinely as they used the hardy
> copy equivalent, publishers leapt on the revenue opportunity to the
> extent that most news services now require payment for premium content.
> My point is that demand and the profit motive are powerful forces in any
> market; there are very few (none?) examples that I can think of where an
> industry has been successfully regulated to be run to actually minimize
> revenue/profit over the long term.  Attempts to achieve this in the past
> (regardless of the industry) tend to be undermined on two levels;
> 1) At the top end there will always be a sector of the market that can
> afford and is willing to pay for a premium service. There's no getting
> around this - hundreds of years of economic history bears it out. This
> leads to a two tier system.
> 2) The regulated "free" end of the market ultimately suffers from no
> longer having a relationship with the premium consumers, who in the case
> of publications are also the most important producers. It gets an
> inferior reputation and is further undermined as increasing numbers of
> people migrate back to premium products, lured by competitive pricing
> from the top end.
> I'm not suggesting the current system won't be subject to change. I just
> wanted to take a step back from debating details of particular systems
> and come back to the bigger picture as I think there's a compelling
> logic against open access which will only be to the academic
> communities' detriment if it is ignored.
> Regards,
> Tristan Chapple (UK)