We noted in a prior blog entry that Open Access Scholarship got a boon in early 2009, when Harvard faculty decided to make their scholarship available in Institutional Repositories. It marked a point where one of the premiere US Institutions of higher learning explicitly recognized that access to scholarship shouldn’t be limited to those Universities which can pay increasingly prohibitive costs for access through publishers and vendors. Six months later, and on the other end of the access spectrum, Harvard Business Publishing is trying to charge Universities even more to deep-link to articles for which most University Libraries have already paid both the publisher and the EBSCO vendor.
Academic librarians have long questioned the economically voracious model of publishing in academia — Cornell’s public break with Elseivier is probably the most widely known rallying point, and they in turn are vocal and active proponents of OA Scholarship. The recent buzz around making NIH-funded research publically available helps bolster the argument for Open Access among academic publishers. Like government-funded publications, most University research is funded, at least partially, by the University itself, in addition to private or public grants. The traditional commercial publisher model charges that author’s University Library a large subscription rate to have print access and then works with vendors to charge libraries for the convenience of electronic access to that research. Generally a publisher justifies the price by saying that they add value through editing, through sponsoring the peer-review process, and through volume printing costs. With OpenAccess publishing (along with Open Journal systems that can automate peer-review work-flows for scholarly presses), these “added values” are becoming less valued.
The basis, if any, for charging more to have a deep-link to an article, when the professor can aways link to the Library’s vendor-provided abstract (with PDF link or full-text-search link) is unclear. While HBP’s desire to charge for deep-linking to the article in EBSCO doesn’t exactly parallel the motives behind another linking-suit filed against Georgia State University by Oxford, Cambridge and Sage, it appears that they are both related to lost revenue on Course Packs. In the latter suit, the 3 presses claimed that Georgia State University made electronic versions of articles available in online course reserves without proper permission. Ostensibly, their suit was based on the fact that access was not behind a password protected course-page; however, in the course of subsequent statements, they questioned whether “Fair Use” extends to electronic copies hosted on CMS and Library e-reserves (which would both be behind password protections and could be linked to vendor-database links).