5.0031 Copyright (2/189)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Mon, 13 May 91 21:29:38 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 5, No. 0031. Monday, 13 May 1991.

(1) Date: Thu, 9 May 91 09:49:29 cdt (160 lines)
From: "John D. Turner" <jdt@hoss>
Subject: Copyright

(2) Date: Sat, 11 May 91 05:18:47 -0400 (29 lines)
From: nsmith@polar.bowdoin.edu (Neel Smith)
Subject: Xanadu and copyright

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: Thu, 9 May 91 09:49:29 cdt
From: "John D. Turner" <jdt@hoss>

It seems to me that Robin Cover's HUMANIST 4.1315 posting "Copyright I" is an
eloquent justification for convenient and unrestricted access to the products
of text-based creative scholarship. I would like to support his plea for the
promotion of the electronic exchange and distribution of scholarly resources
and creations from a slightly different angle. From recent discussions at my
University with Ann Okerson, Director of the Association of Research
Libraries, it emerges that not only our own, but all 94 ARL libraries are due
for serious financial trouble in the very near future. According to Okerson,
in the last four years, serial subscriptions for these libraries rose 51%; in
1990 ARL libraries paid 52% more than in 1986 but were able to acquire 1% fewer
subscriptions. Including scientific publications, only 20% of total serial
subscriptions accounted for 72% of library serials expenditures in 1988). Even
though monograph prices rose only 41% during the same period, the serials
increase allowed only a 19% increase in monograph expenditures, a 16% decline in
four years, which works out to a drop of about 5300 monographs per ARL library
for the period. The Berkeley libraries report that monographic purchases of
83,000 books in 1981 will decline to 42,000 in 1991. The point of all this is
that the research library community is alarmed, and university administrators
responsible for allocating university budgets are also beginning to get the
picture. To judge from my own experience, the only group that does not seem
particularly worried about these developments is faculty who take libraries for
granted and often have little sense for the economics of their profession except
when it comes to salaries, benefits, outside consulting income and textbook
royalties. As one respondent to Cover's plea indicated, hardcopy publication of
our scholarship by prestigious presses is partly a matter of our own vanity,
not to mention the demands of our current publish-or-perish philosophy. The
difficulty is that the increasing concentration of the means of hardcopy
publication in the hands of increasingly fewer commercial houses who assess
research libraries staggering annual subscription increases will soon deprive
scholars of the major market for the serial and monographic publication of own
their work. The combination of our vanity and publish-or-perish philosophy
together with our traditional commitment to the widespread dissemination of
knowledge and scholarship are currently leading to an increase in published
output in excess of six percent per year across all fields. Such an increase
coupled with the concentration of the means of publication in the hands of a
very few will ultimately lead to disaster; publish-or-perish will tend to become
What can be done? Drawing attention to the federal government's
new National Research and Education Network, she has appealed to the Coalition
for Networked Information to create a Corporation for Networked Scholarly
Publishing with initial leadership taken from such institutions as Case
Western, Johns Hopkins, Virginia Tech and OCLC, who have shown initiative in
electronic book and journal-like projects, for the purpose of:
1) Drafting a statement of principles guiding scholarly publishing on the
network (stressing quick and wide availability, affordable user costs,
comprehensive directories of material available and friendly user access).
2) Investigate the options for the eventual transfer of the Network to
commercial telecommunication carriers, which is inevitable as federal
government subsidies to academic enterprises such as the Network dwindle over
the course of time.
3) Define guidelines pertaining to such issues as "fair and honest" use,
classified and proprietary information, integrity and privacy; full/partial
cost recovery, collection and distribution of revenues, and marketing
activity on the network by commercial firms.
4) Develop ownership and copyright policies; possibilities include joint
ownership of published material between authors, universities and/or
professional societies, allowing remuneration without giving away a copyright
to a third party; a statement in the copyright notice of an article or book
giving unlimited copying rights to libraries and scholars.
Okerson points out that if such an electronic publishing venture were
inaugurated by a handful of major universities and professional societies with
projects characterized by integrity, unassailable review practices and
top-flight editors, acceptance might come rather quickly, given the advantage
of comprehensive access to the scholarly community and the possibility of
immediate and wide access to recent material.
With the prices for scholarly publishing escalating at a rate, on average,
of twice the Consumer Price Index (the situation is of course better in the
humanities), and the trend toward monopoly ownership of publication resources
(the European market is now controlled by only five major publishing
conglomerates), and increasing litigation from publishers against library
consortiums who try to distribute acquisitions among themselves, the
situation is getting worse each year.
The realization of some of these suggestions will take years, even if
the scholarly world is committed to them (which I am reluctant to believe).
But practical steps to move toward an alleviation of this problem can be
taken by anyone of us now. As a starter, the more secure (tenured) among our
ranks can refuse publishers exclusive rights to their creations, refuse to
publish with or serve on the editorial boards of overpriced journals and
monograph series, or publishers who will not allow electronic access to
scholarly material within a reasonable amount of time following hardcopy
publication. Especially in the sciences, faculty might act to retrieve
control over the distribution of journals from commercial presses whose
escalation of journal subscription prices exceeds inflation by a significant
amount. Universities have to share some of this burden. Many university
presses, who are mostly required to operate on a self-supporting basis apart
from their university budget, are reluctant to take on the publication of
potentially unprofitable scholarship. Faculty might consider demanding that
their university presses put more emphasis on the business of publishing basic
scholarly research, and a bit less on trade publications.
With regard to electronic scholarly publishing, there will have to be
some reduction in the sheer number of refereed journals currently available
if the networks are ever to handle the load. There are arguably too many
of these now, and hard-pressed libraries are beginning to cancel
subscriptions to them, forcing upon faculty the time-consuming task of
weeding out the less from the more valuable. Of course, unrestricted
network access will also result in the appearance of a great deal of
unrefereed publication, but much of this, often of quite high quality and
significance, is available already. There may even be instances in which
certain highly significant scholarship can become available only in the
absence of refereed acceptance, which can in some cases be cliquish or
faddish and bound up with the struggle for political dominance within
professional societies. The arrival of electronic publishing on a large scale
will entail big changes in the publish-or-perish oriented tenure, promotion
and merit reward systems as has been noted in previous HUMANIST discussions.
Colleagues and administrators might even be forced into having to read
faculty output for quality rather than quantity, and resort more frequently
to extra-institutional peer evaluation (done electronically, of course).
Since so much of university curricula is dictated by professional societies
and their accreditation committees nowadays, I think such societies need to
take the lead in this discussion, and in the case of humanists in concert
with the American Council of Learned Societies. Universities and colleges
will eventually have to go with the flow, given the faculty sense of prior
commitment to profession rather than institution. Of course, as Cover points
out, much of this depends on the development, availability and use of
intelligent authoring software, versatile electronic book browsers, high
capacity academic networks and creative electronic-communication schemes for
editing/refereeing (and, I might add, for _purchasing_, since all this won't
come for free BITNET-style). Probably federal support will be required to
get all this off the ground, and as Okerson has indicated, as federal
support inevitably dwindles, the entire enterprise may eventually have to
be partially operated by commercial telecommunications enterprises.
There are a host of problems: should there be any royalties, and if so,
what will be the accounting scheme, and how will authorial integrity be
protected while perhaps allowing material to be circulated along with a
limited amount of reader response? Perhaps here the use of indelible
public-key encrypted electronic signatures might be a way of tracing the
distribution of material in such a way as to avoid too many parasitical
middlemen. Probably the job of maintaining a fine-grained enough index to
the vast amount of material available will be sufficiently vast and complex
that the scholarly community will have to resort to a commercial enterprise
(but in that case, _we_ own our creations and pay royalties to _them_, rather
than the reverse, as it is now).
Again, how accomplish distribution to scholars without immediate access
to the network? Quite possibly floppies or some other removable media. But
this would have to be coupled with a program that virtually guarantees that
all have access to a computer and appropriate communications links; perhaps
a massive volume-purchasing program through professional societies would
work here. When Scholar's Press was started at the University of Montana,
we considered, but did not implement, the idea of supplementing hardcopy
distribution with microform distribution coupled with volume purchasing of
microform readers at a vast discount to subscribers, as well as the
possibility of making journals available in a "loose-leaf" form that would
enable purchase of desired materials only.
One huge problem is -- who does all this work, promotes it, sets it up,
oversees it, etc.? Faculty are busy creatures (usually), and don't have the
time to do it, do they? But if they don't, you-know-who will step in to
fill the void. We are historically a rather naive bunch when it comes to
serving our own interests collectively. Maybe that's the worst problem of
all, and the major reason many of these ideas will remain pipe dreams;
otherwise, most of them would have been implemented and being used already.
The battle Robin Cover, Ann Okerson and others are fighting now is perhaps
the one that must be won first -- overcoming faculty complacency.

John Turner

(2) --------------------------------------------------------------37----
Date: Sat, 11 May 91 05:18:47 -0400
From: nsmith@polar.bowdoin.edu (Neel Smith)
Subject: Xanadu and copyright

The 'Xanadu' royalty scheme should frighten any academic who sees it presented
as a model of compensation for electronically published work. If I understand
it correctly, it proposes a simple equation: reward (royalties, and so
presumbably credit towards tenure, prestige generally?) is a direct function
of frequency of citation.

The naivete of such a scheme should be immediately apparent. I content myself
with two examples:

-- Citation of one's own works. A familiar phenomenon in all academic
publishing, authors tend to cite themselves more frequently than anyone else
does. There may be good reasons for this (obviously, authors tend to work on
the same or related problems), but rewards for citing yourself are clearly

-- Citation to refute a work. In classical antiquity, this constitutes
perhaps the largest category of attributed citation-- many academic continue
this tradition. Do we want to reward someone for publishing a work that is
notoriously bad rather than merely mediocre?

Automated methods for evaluating work are utopian-- and utopia is where they
should stay.

Neel Smith