Tuesday, February 7, 2012

"open access publishing"

"open access publishing"? Or better:

"redistributable publishing"
"free-to-copy publishing"

See Budapest Open Access Initiative.

commentary by Richard Stallman <rms@gnu.org>:

Many scientists recognize the harm done by restrictive scientific publishers that control use of the scientific literature. In 2002, the Budapest Open Access Initiative called for applying two principles in scientific publishing: access for everyone at the main publication site, and freedom for everyone to redistribute exact copies (and do other things with them too).

The second principle is stronger. In practice, it implies the first: if everyone has the freedom to redistribute copies of articles, university libraries will mirror the articles, making them accessible to everyone. However, the term "open access" refers to the weaker first principle and not to the second. That makes it a weak term.

I signed the BOAI statement. I had misgivings about the name, after seeing how philosophical opponents of the Free Software Movement had used the term "open source" to downplay our concerns about freedom, but I put them aside because the substance was correct.

My misgivings later proved valid: some influential supporters subsequently dropped the second principle.  In effect, the weak name overcame the strong substance.

To return to the correct substance of the the BOAI, we should drop the term "open access publishing", and talk about "redistributable publishing" or "free-to-copy publishing".  These terms focus on the stronger second principle, so they will resist weakening.

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