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Scientist Must Pay to Read His Own Paper 289

Glyn Moody writes "Peter Murray Rust, a chemist at Cambridge University, was lost for words when he found Oxford University Press's website demanded $48 from him to access his own scientific paper, in which he holds copyright and which he released under a Creative Commons license. As he writes, the journal in question was "selling my intellectual property, without my permission, against the terms of the license (no commercial use)." In the light of this kind of copyright abuse and of the PRISM Coalition, a new FUD group set up by scientific publishers to discredit open access, isn't it time to say enough is enough, and demand free access to the research we pay for through our taxes?"
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Scientist Must Pay to Read His Own Paper

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  • Can't he sue them (Score:3, Interesting)

    by kalirion ( 728907 ) on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @12:03PM (#20465195)
    Can't he sue them for copyright infringement?
  • by Creepy Crawler ( 680178 ) on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @12:23PM (#20465483)

    OUP wants me to pay for my own Open Access article

    I have been dismayed (previous post: "Open Access") at the lack of commitment to OA by mainstream (primarily toll-access (TA)) publishers and have described this as a "systemic failure" of the industry. Here is another unacceptable lack of clarity and commitment from an Open Access journal from a major publisher. I had been investigating OUP's site for another reason (PRISM: Open Letter to Oxford University Press) and since I had published with them thought I would have a look at papers I had written ("I" and "my" include co-authors). This is what I found (screenshot):

    The Image in the blog entry stating $48 cost []

    The electronic article is accompanied by a sidebar with "request permissions". I followed this and the result is shown above. The journal wishes to charge me 48 USD to:

            * USE MY OWN ARTICLE

    The journal is therefore


    I am lost for words... ... the only charitable conclusion I can draw is that the publisher ritually attaches the awful Rightslink page to every article automatically and that this is a genuine mistake. I have found such "genuine mistakes" with other publishers in their hybrid journals (i.e. where only some of the papers are OA, the majority being toll-access TA). But this is a fully OA journal - all papers are OA - I assume CC-NC. There is no excuse for including the Rightslink page on ANY OA paper, let alone every one on a journal.

    If this is - as I desperately hope - a genuine mistake then my criticism might seem harsh. But it is actually part of the systemic failure of the industry to promote Open Access. And I hope that OUP can and will clarify and rectify the position. If, however, it is deliberate and that the publisher actually intends to charge readers and users for Open Access articles I shall reserve comment.

    This is not a trivial point. The normal reader of a journal who wishes to re-use material has to navigate copyright constraints and restrictions on an all-too-frequent basis. Such a reader, especially if they were relatively unaware of Open Access could easily pay the journal for "permission to use an Open Access article for teaching". (Note that other charges are higher - to include my own article in a book I write would cost nearly 350 USD).

    It is all indicative of an industry that simply isn't trying hard enough.


    After all, the author has paid for this...

    This entry was posted on Monday, September 3rd, 2007 at 6:43 pm and is filed under open issues. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
  • by Xiaran ( 836924 ) on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @12:33PM (#20465637)
    That's a great theory, but then you get every scientist posting his research to his blog. In scientific circles, the idea of "peer-reviewed" research is very important

    Then why can not say a groups of universities get together and develop their own international web journal of all sciences(TM). Im thikning something like slashdot(only much more rigorous on access and content submission). You could have "moderators" who would be like experts in the field the paper is written for. Interested observers who have expertise in a related field etc. You could even have a system where people could be sponsored by other to be experts(Im thinking amateur astronomers who make many contributions to astronomy but may not have a related degree).

    Wasnt this kinda thing the reason for the invention of HTML in the first place?
  • by Sloppy ( 14984 ) on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @12:57PM (#20465945) Homepage Journal

    One of the other dangers of state-funded research is that it gets politicized and distorted. Biotechnicians now have to deal with really weird and arbitrary rules about where their stem cells came from. And Yog-Sothoth help you, if you're in a government position and happen to notice a curious relationship between pollution and temperature: you better shut your mouth if you want to keep your job.

    And yet, to restore integrity to publicly funded research, you have to tell the electorate, "Fuck you, I don't care what platform you voted for, we're going to spend your money on something you don't like. You say we're killing babies, I say a microscopic blob isn't a person. Don't agree with me? Well guess what, I hold the power and you will settle up with me on April 15." It's either a science disaster or a civics disaster: whoever wins, we lose.

  • by Not Invented Here ( 30411 ) on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @01:04PM (#20466093)

    Then why can not say a groups of universities get together and develop their own international web journal of all sciences(TM).
    They've already started. []

  • Re:No surprise. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Mr. Underbridge ( 666784 ) on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @01:06PM (#20466117)

    What really begs the question is, where the hell does that money go, if not to the author of the article?

    Depends. Maintaining an editing, peer review, production and publication system does cost money, print or online. Aside from that, there's a distinction between journals put out by non-profit organizations (like the American Chemical Society) and for-profit publishers (like Elsevier).

    The societies often use journal publication as a moneymaker to support other efforts, which are often philanthropic. ACS, for instance, does a lot to support chemistry education K-12 and other efforts as well. I believe many of them also give discounts to academic institutions. On the other hand, the for-profit publishers are in the business of making money, and charge what the market will bear. For that reason, many researchers prefer to use society-based publishers.

  • by OrangeTide ( 124937 ) on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @01:17PM (#20466331) Homepage Journal
    Because there cannot be significant damages for violating the license of free material, your chance of actually extracting any sort of retribution is minimal.

    What you should do from now on is dual license the material. CC for not-for-profit duplication, and explicitly state a royalty system for commercial use. Charge $1 for every copy sold. When a company violates your terms you can sue for real damages. And in most jurisdictions it works as multiplier so you can sue for far more than they have actually failed to pay.
  • foia? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by deadstatue ( 1004528 ) on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @01:30PM (#20466519)
    could this catergory fall under the foia?research paid by taxes. people have the right to know
  • by Corson ( 746347 ) on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @02:52PM (#20467859)
    Scientific publishing has been a big business for some time. If scientists only wanted to publish their work then they would submit their papers to the Public Library of Science (PLOS []) or to other free (of charge) publishing services. But they want fame, to advance their careers, and publishing in journals such as Cell, Science, or Nature is expensive; and access to scientific papers in those same journals is also expensive. But since scientists don't pay for those privileges out of their own pockets*, price doesn't seem to matter to them -- at least not as much as "fame".
    *next time you donate to, say, a cancer research charity, remember that some of the money spent on "research" is actually spent on publishing articles in expensive journals
  • Re:And (Score:4, Interesting)

    by leuk_he ( 194174 ) on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @04:07PM (#20468873) Homepage Journal
    from TFA

    But it is actually part of the systemic failure of the industry to promote Open Access.

    It all is a routine, until they are caught, in which case they say "oops". They better try this not on legal students who care.

    Cleary they did not go by CC license, which makes "This License and the rights granted hereunder will terminate automatically upon any breach by You of the terms of this License." Thus they will have to pay Peter murray for copyright, and fast! I bet they have a standard fee for unlimited online relicencing....
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @05:41PM (#20470377)
    I've worked in several medical publishing and medical communications companies, even founded one.

    I can guarantee that this wasn't done out of some malicious or nefarious plot. Plain and simple incompetence is the more likely explanation. The medical publishers are not, in fact, rolling in the dough... the industry is on the decline big time, and the publishers run on razor thin margins. Most are carried as loss leaders in a media company umbrella in order to drive business to the company's other advertising, multimedia, consulting, and medical communications divisions. The publishing companies have low level, inexperienced staff operating in a pen and sticky-note environment for the most part, even when web based. They have a large volume of submissions to review and publish with a small staff and peer reviewers.

    And they chronically deal with authors who walk around with their dicks out, acting like rock stars because they submitted a scientific paper. They can be attention hounds, bloated egotists with a disproportionate sense of their importance in the grand scheme. 95.5% (with a p>0.05) of authors are amicable, knowledgeable, and human, but there is a core set of assholes who really wander around looking to make mountains out of molehills like this.

Someday your prints will come. -- Kodak