Publishers’ attempts to shut out the “other internet players” are also being resisted by people who say the public should have “open access” to taxpayer-funded scholarly and scientific research.
The open-access movement points out that academics, who type and illustrate their own work, might just as well put their articles on the internet as publish them in expensive scientific journals.
The Public Library of Science (PLoS) is a non-profit, open-access scientific-publishing project in the United States. Its growing stable of free journals is mainly funded by charging the authors a publication fee, usually refunded by their universities.
In Germany, copyright legislation is expected to come into force at the end of this year granting publishers the online rights to pre-1995 work. Before that time, online publication was undreamed of and rights to it were not mentioned in contracts.
Klaus Graf, an open-access advocate in Germany, is encouraging academics to use a one-year opt-out period to claim those online rights to their pre-1995 work and put the papers on the internet.
The prospect of scientists publishing on the internet instead of in paper journals has prompted academic publishers such as Springer to offer authors an open-access option, if they are willing to pay.
Even more worrying, from a publisher’s perspective, is the prospect of expensive college textbooks being replaced by e-books that would be free to students. A British government agency, JISC, announced in September a nationwide trial with 26 books issued free.