Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Blackwell Launches 3000 Years of Digitized Journal Backfiles

The current issue of Blackwell Publishing Journal News (July 2006, page 15) has an article about their strategy to opne up their huge archive.

As much as it is advantageous to have more and more digital journals, the more the divide between those having something and those having nothing widens, since hardly any of the content is free. Furhtermore, having access to 3,000 years of journals means, that in fact Blackwell opened for themselves another stream of income, this time not claiming copyright but the effort spent to digitize the content. In fact, this has the same effect as copyright.

Since Blackwell asks individual societies for paying the costs of scanning, if they want to have their journals open access, one could argue at the same time, that Blackwell ought to pay each society a royalty if they sell an article. All the content has not been generated by Blackwell, and thus this is not a fair deal. It might be there is more language hidden in contracts, but this is not to be found in the article.

I would also argue, that this development is undermining the success of the Biodiversity Heritage Library.

Finally, the advantage of open access is only on a very short time access to
pdfs: the real impact will yield tools such as open text mining, which are prevented by Blackwell's behavior - a behavior that could or ought to be changed.

An additional comment regarding open access is on Peter Suber's open access blog


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