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Re: Brantley blog post

Some clarifications in response to Adam Hodgkin:

1. Brantley is no longer blogging for O'Reilly's Radar. Much of his attention has shifted to the Publishing Frontier blog (http://pubfrontier.com).

2. You would have to ask Brantley this directly, but from my extensive communications with him, I would say that his concerns for libraries and the Google project in particular go far beyond open access.

3. My view--not Brantley's--is that the phrase "public interest in Open Access" is misleading. The public is interested in the sense that open access has captured its imagination, but there is no "public interest" in the sense that there are any public benefits to open access. I know I have become tiresome on this point, but I will assert it once more and move on: attention, not information, is the scarce commodity. Open access adds to information and dilutes attention. One might as well sell a space heater in the tropics.

4. I am skeptical about the assertion that "publishers are showing a very proper concern with the benefits of an information commons." This sounds like Woodstock. Publishers are awakening to various ways open access can be used to market other products and services, including subscriptions. This does not meant that OA is a publisher's preferred marketing venue, but it is the hand they have been dealt and they are learning to play it. Over time, except for those publications (a small number) that are fully funded for open access by various groups (e.g., philanthropies or universities), open access will evolve into one facet of a broadly based marketing strategy. A publisher's "proper concern" is perhaps better summarized by Don Barzini in his address to his fellow thugs in "The Godfather": "After all, we are not communists."

Joe Esposito

----- Original Message -----
From: "adam hodgkin" <adam.hodgkin@gmail.com>
To: <liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu>
Sent: Friday, January 04, 2008 6:27 PM
Subject: Re: Brantley blog post

Peter Brantley's piece is indeed interesting, and I wonder why it did not appear among his normal and distinguished postings on O'Reilly Radar. Joe's phrase may be a misrepresentation of Brantley's concern. Its not so much that a Google/Publisher/Author settlement may amount to "Google will sell out the libraries". The real issue here is the public interest in Open Access for which libraries, librarians, are generally, or often, but not always the most reliable advocate. It is very noticeable that there is a growing concern in the library community that some libraries may have missed their calling by aligning too much of their efforts and their long term mission with Google's digitisation projects.

Its also important that some very serious publishers are showing a very proper concern with the benefits of an information commons, a larger and freer commons, with Open Access, with reusable and repurposable content etc. In the end authors and publishers, scholarship and creative literature will be the losers if a Google Book Search settlement leads to bureaucratic and overly institutional restrictions on the reuse of digital text. I will be very surprised if the case is settled by the parties agreeing to a new type of collective licensing arrangement for orphan copyrights, a Google funded collective payments system that monitors and obscures a lot of literature in libraries (this is I suspect what worries Brantley). But if that is the way things go, the libraries, especially Google's partners, will surely join in the "sell out".


On Jan 4, 2008 12:08 AM, Joseph J. Esposito <espositoj@gmail.com> wrote:

Peter Brantley has a long post on his "Shimenawa" blog (he has
more than one).  It can be found here:


The post is hard to summarize, as it ranges across a number of
challenging policy issues, but the gist of it is that the
current mass digitization projects in many libraries are not
moving forward in the libraries' own interests, but, rather, in
the interests of the parties (largely commercial and
principally Google) who step up to the initial costs.  There is
also speculation here about the much-whispered-about
possibility that "Google will sell out the libraries" (my
phrase, not Peter's) in cutting a deal with the publishers and
authors with whom they are now in litigation.

Joe Esposito