The end of an early OA medical journal

Ivan Oransky, RIP: The Medscape Journal of Medicine, an open access pioneer, stops publishing new papers, Scientific American, January 31, 2009.  Excerpt:

A pioneering medical journal has fallen victim to the dramatic and wrenching changes that are overtaking the publishing industry: The Medscape Journal of Medicine (MJM), the first open access general medical journal, will no longer publish new papers, editor-in-chief George Lundberg and colleagues announced yesterday….

MJM came before BMC and PLoS. It was not the first open access medical journal when it was established in April 1999 as Medscape General Medicine, but it was among the first. Its offerings included original research, video commentaries, and even letters "to help clean up the messes made by any medical journals."

Unlike BMC and PLoS, which charge authors up to several thousand dollars per paper, MJM never charged author or publication fees. (Such fees are generally paid out of research grants, and are waived for those in developing countries.)

Perhaps because MJM did not have that source of revenue, Medscape — owned by WebMD — has decided to adopt a strategy similar to that of many other publishers: "We believe that we can provide the most value to our members by focusing on our role as an aggregator and interpreter of medical information and not as the primary source for original scientific articles." Its archives will remain live at Medscape, according to yesterday’s announcement….

PS:  See our past posts on MJM and George Lundberg.

The end of an early OA medical journal

Ivan Oransky, RIP: The Medscape Journal of Medicine, an open access pioneer, stops publishing new papers, Scientific American, January 31, 2009.  Excerpt:

A pioneering medical journal has fallen victim to the dramatic and wrenching changes that are overtaking the publishing industry: The Medscape Journal of Medicine (MJM), the first open access general medical journal, will no longer publish new papers, editor-in-chief George Lundberg and colleagues announced yesterday….

MJM came before BMC and PLoS. It was not the first open access medical journal when it was established in April 1999 as Medscape General Medicine, but it was among the first. Its offerings included original research, video commentaries, and even letters "to help clean up the messes made by any medical journals."

Unlike BMC and PLoS, which charge authors up to several thousand dollars per paper, MJM never charged author or publication fees. (Such fees are generally paid out of research grants, and are waived for those in developing countries.)

Perhaps because MJM did not have that source of revenue, Medscape — owned by WebMD — has decided to adopt a strategy similar to that of many other publishers: "We believe that we can provide the most value to our members by focusing on our role as an aggregator and interpreter of medical information and not as the primary source for original scientific articles." Its archives will remain live at Medscape, according to yesterday’s announcement….

PS:  See our past posts on MJM and George Lundberg.

Who Knows Where the Next Great Idea will come from? Why open access to the world’s collective knowledge is a great boon in tough times

These are indeed difficult times. Businesses built for the industrial age are failing; jobs and businesses are disappearing, tax revenue is down. What we need to do now is not to prop up the past, but rather to prepare for the future: the kinds of economics that will thrive in a greener and largely knowledge-based economy.

At a time like this, it is fortunate indeed that we already have open access to a considerable portion of the world’s collective knowledge. We can readily share our scholarly knowledge with the developing world, at no cost. Many scholars in the developing world are freely sharing their knowledge through open access, and this is a very good thing, as the developing world has a bit of an advantage right now; they are used to having less money, and so have lots of ideas and incentive to develop the kinds of low-cost solutions that we in the developing world could use right about now. This topic is explored in more depth in my post Necessity is the Mother of Invention: Open Access, the Developing World, and the Cost-Effective Solution.

Through services like libraries, the Scientific Commons, Internet search engines, and the Directory of Open Access Journals, any bright person with no job but even as much as a modicum of curiosity can be learning, and many, I hear, are already doing so by returning to formal education. If even a small fraction of those in this situation focus on this learning, and a small fraction of this learning yields brilliant ideas for new ways of doing things, all it takes is a spark of an entrepreneurial spirit – and an open, neutral network – to get a start on the types of businesses that can sustain families and communities, or even thrive and grow into new economic engines.

Other thoughts to kickstart the new economy

In addition to an open internet, to kickstart this type of new business, it would be a good idea for governments examine how easy or difficult it is to start up a new business. While we all need protection from spam and fraud, it should be possible for an honest citizen to set up a new, simple web-based business to sell their own works or services and figure out how to pay their taxes, in just a few clicks. Maybe other countries have this figured out, but in Canada there are people with good ideas and business plans who are totally stymied but the apparently insoluble problem of how to start up a business and pay your taxes like a good citizen. Who knows, if this was made easy enough, I just might have IPJE Commercial (for t-shirt sales and stuff) up and running, already. Maybe I’d have enough sales to have to hire someone to help out.

Make microloans available. Sure, we’d all like to have big businesses employing lots of people in high-paying jobs, but let’s not forget that may of these big businesses started out in someone’s garage. And if all people want to do is to support or help support their families and communities, there is nothing wrong with that!

Support people who want to try out a micro-business idea. Look at this as a reasonable option for people on employment supports, especially in areas where there aren’t a lot of immediate job prospects.

This post is a part of the Creative Globalization and Essential Efficiencies Series.

Who Knows Where the Next Great Idea will come from? Why open access to the world’s collective knowledge is a great boon in tough times

These are indeed difficult times. Businesses built for the industrial age are failing; jobs and businesses are disappearing, tax revenue is down. What we need to do now is not to prop up the past, but rather to prepare for the future: the kinds of economics that will thrive in a greener and largely knowledge-based economy.

At a time like this, it is fortunate indeed that we already have open access to a considerable portion of the world’s collective knowledge. We can readily share our scholarly knowledge with the developing world, at no cost. Many scholars in the developing world are freely sharing their knowledge through open access, and this is a very good thing, as the developing world has a bit of an advantage right now; they are used to having less money, and so have lots of ideas and incentive to develop the kinds of low-cost solutions that we in the developing world could use right about now. This topic is explored in more depth in my post Necessity is the Mother of Invention: Open Access, the Developing World, and the Cost-Effective Solution.

Through services like libraries, the Scientific Commons, Internet search engines, and the Directory of Open Access Journals, any bright person with no job but even as much as a modicum of curiosity can be learning, and many, I hear, are already doing so by returning to formal education. If even a small fraction of those in this situation focus on this learning, and a small fraction of this learning yields brilliant ideas for new ways of doing things, all it takes is a spark of an entrepreneurial spirit – and an open, neutral network – to get a start on the types of businesses that can sustain families and communities, or even thrive and grow into new economic engines.

Other thoughts to kickstart the new economy

In addition to an open internet, to kickstart this type of new business, it would be a good idea for governments examine how easy or difficult it is to start up a new business. While we all need protection from spam and fraud, it should be possible for an honest citizen to set up a new, simple web-based business to sell their own works or services and figure out how to pay their taxes, in just a few clicks. Maybe other countries have this figured out, but in Canada there are people with good ideas and business plans who are totally stymied but the apparently insoluble problem of how to start up a business and pay your taxes like a good citizen. Who knows, if this was made easy enough, I just might have IPJE Commercial (for t-shirt sales and stuff) up and running, already. Maybe I’d have enough sales to have to hire someone to help out.

Make microloans available. Sure, we’d all like to have big businesses employing lots of people in high-paying jobs, but let’s not forget that may of these big businesses started out in someone’s garage. And if all people want to do is to support or help support their families and communities, there is nothing wrong with that!

Support people who want to try out a micro-business idea. Look at this as a reasonable option for people on employment supports, especially in areas where there aren’t a lot of immediate job prospects.

This post is a part of the Creative Globalization and Essential Efficiencies Series.

Dutch agreement on digitizing orphan works

FOBID (Netherlands Library Forum) and VOI©E (Vereniging van Organisaties die Intellectueel eigendom Collectief Exploiteren, or Netherlands Association of Organisations for the Collective Management of Intellectual Property Rights) have issued a joint declaration on the digitization of orphan works.  From yesterday’s press release:

…As far as is known, this is the first agreement of this type anywhere in the world between libraries and right holders. There is concern in many other countries too regarding how to deal with the rights of right holders who cannot be traced, i.e. the holders of rights in â??orphan worksâ?. If the arrangement that has now been accepted in the Netherlands is imitated in other European countries, it will have an enormous effect on the availability of recent works in the â??Europeanaâ? digital library….

The essence of the agreement is that the libraries that are represented receive permission, on certain conditions, from virtually all right holders to digitise their collections and make them publically available on their own premises for teaching or research purposes. The works concerned must be part of the Dutch cultural heritage and no longer commercially available. The libraries do not need to pay the right holders as long as the works are only made available on their own premises.

Separate consent is required, however, if the digitised works are made more widely available, for example by means of remote access or via the Internet. In that case, an agreed payment must be made….Even then, the library will not need to go in search of the right holders because this will be done by collecting societies such as Lira and Pictoright….

Individual right holders can naturally still object to their work being digitised and made accessible. In that case, the libraries and archives concerned are required to cease making the works accessible; in practice, very few titleholders actually object.

Kees Holierhoek, the chairman of the Lira copyright holdersâ?? organisation and of the digital right holders working party, has this to say about the new agreement: â??Iâ??m very pleased about this agreement. Itâ??s important for us that copyright should be respected, and that has been done in this case. At the same time, the agreement has done away with a major obstacle to making texts and photos accessible. Authors, freelance journalists, photographers, and publishers will all have a veto right if they do not wish to participate. If they do wish to participate, they can claim payment if their material is made accessible outside the institutionâ??s own premises.â?

Martin Bossenbroek, the acting General Director of the National Library of the Netherlands, says: â??This agreement is a real breakthrough. Itâ??s extremely good news for libraries like the National Library of the Netherlands whose core task is to manage nationally important heritage collections and make them available. The agreement regulates digitisation and the availability of digitised collections on our own premises. But that is only the first step, because we naturally want to also make the digitised collections available online. I think the real benefit of this agreement is that it shows how all the various interested parties understand one anotherâ??s positions and arguments. That constructive attitude will also make it possible to arrive at good follow-up arrangements for provision of material on the Internet.â?

From yesterday’s declaration:

…The Digiti©E Committee, made up of representatives of the right holders acting together as VOI©E…and representatives of libraries, archives, and museums…acting together as FOBID; …

Declares on the authority of the Foundation of Copyright Interests and VOI©E that institutions shall be given general consent to digitise their collections and make the digitised versions available subject to the following conditions:

1. The institution is a publicly accessible library, museum, or archive which does not have as its object â?? either in general or with the activity concerned â?? the achievement of any direct or indirect economic or commercial advantage;

2. Only works forming part of the institutionâ??s collection will be digitised;

3. The works to be digitised form part of the Dutch cultural heritage;

4. The works to be digitised have been lawfully acquired by the institution;

5. To the best knowledge of the institution, the works to be digitised are no longer commercially available;

6. To the best knowledge of the institution, the rights regarding the works to be digitised are vested in Dutch right holders or in right holders who can be represented â?? or most of whom can be represented â?? by a Dutch collecting society;

7. It is difficult for the institution to contact individual right holders;

8. As long as no other arrangements have been made with or on behalf of the right holders, the digitised works shall be made available solely via a closed network on the premises of the institution and for the purposes of teaching, research, or private study;

9. In the case of visual material, the quality of the digitised representation shall be such that digital reproduction cannot have a negative effect on the opportunities for exploitation on the part of the original right holder;

10. Either on the institutionâ??s website or in some other way directly associated with display of the digitised works, right holders will be offered the opportunity to object to access being provided to the digital copy of the work in which they can still exercise copyright; Should such objection be received, the institution shall immediately cease the provision of access to the digital copy until agreement has been reached with the party or parties concerned; …

Comment.  This agreement does not directly grant rightsholder consent to OA.  But it does grant consent for digitization and restricted online access, and it streamlines the process of obtaining consent for OA.  For orphan works still under copyright, these are significant steps forward.

Dutch agreement on digitizing orphan works

FOBID (Netherlands Library Forum) and VOI©E (Vereniging van Organisaties die Intellectueel eigendom Collectief Exploiteren, or Netherlands Association of Organisations for the Collective Management of Intellectual Property Rights) have issued a joint declaration on the digitization of orphan works.  From yesterday’s press release:

…As far as is known, this is the first agreement of this type anywhere in the world between libraries and right holders. There is concern in many other countries too regarding how to deal with the rights of right holders who cannot be traced, i.e. the holders of rights in “orphan works”. If the arrangement that has now been accepted in the Netherlands is imitated in other European countries, it will have an enormous effect on the availability of recent works in the “Europeana” digital library….

The essence of the agreement is that the libraries that are represented receive permission, on certain conditions, from virtually all right holders to digitise their collections and make them publically available on their own premises for teaching or research purposes. The works concerned must be part of the Dutch cultural heritage and no longer commercially available. The libraries do not need to pay the right holders as long as the works are only made available on their own premises.

Separate consent is required, however, if the digitised works are made more widely available, for example by means of remote access or via the Internet. In that case, an agreed payment must be made….Even then, the library will not need to go in search of the right holders because this will be done by collecting societies such as Lira and Pictoright….

Individual right holders can naturally still object to their work being digitised and made accessible. In that case, the libraries and archives concerned are required to cease making the works accessible; in practice, very few titleholders actually object.

Kees Holierhoek, the chairman of the Lira copyright holders’ organisation and of the digital right holders working party, has this to say about the new agreement: “I’m very pleased about this agreement. It’s important for us that copyright should be respected, and that has been done in this case. At the same time, the agreement has done away with a major obstacle to making texts and photos accessible. Authors, freelance journalists, photographers, and publishers will all have a veto right if they do not wish to participate. If they do wish to participate, they can claim payment if their material is made accessible outside the institution’s own premises.”

Martin Bossenbroek, the acting General Director of the National Library of the Netherlands, says: “This agreement is a real breakthrough. It’s extremely good news for libraries like the National Library of the Netherlands whose core task is to manage nationally important heritage collections and make them available. The agreement regulates digitisation and the availability of digitised collections on our own premises. But that is only the first step, because we naturally want to also make the digitised collections available online. I think the real benefit of this agreement is that it shows how all the various interested parties understand one another’s positions and arguments. That constructive attitude will also make it possible to arrive at good follow-up arrangements for provision of material on the Internet.”

From yesterday’s declaration:

…The Digiti©E Committee, made up of representatives of the right holders acting together as VOI©E…and representatives of libraries, archives, and museums…acting together as FOBID; …

Declares on the authority of the Foundation of Copyright Interests and VOI©E that institutions shall be given general consent to digitise their collections and make the digitised versions available subject to the following conditions:

1. The institution is a publicly accessible library, museum, or archive which does not have as its object – either in general or with the activity concerned – the achievement of any direct or indirect economic or commercial advantage;

2. Only works forming part of the institution’s collection will be digitised;

3. The works to be digitised form part of the Dutch cultural heritage;

4. The works to be digitised have been lawfully acquired by the institution;

5. To the best knowledge of the institution, the works to be digitised are no longer commercially available;

6. To the best knowledge of the institution, the rights regarding the works to be digitised are vested in Dutch right holders or in right holders who can be represented – or most of whom can be represented – by a Dutch collecting society;

7. It is difficult for the institution to contact individual right holders;

8. As long as no other arrangements have been made with or on behalf of the right holders, the digitised works shall be made available solely via a closed network on the premises of the institution and for the purposes of teaching, research, or private study;

9. In the case of visual material, the quality of the digitised representation shall be such that digital reproduction cannot have a negative effect on the opportunities for exploitation on the part of the original right holder;

10. Either on the institution’s website or in some other way directly associated with display of the digitised works, right holders will be offered the opportunity to object to access being provided to the digital copy of the work in which they can still exercise copyright; Should such objection be received, the institution shall immediately cease the provision of access to the digital copy until agreement has been reached with the party or parties concerned; …

Comment.  This agreement does not directly grant rightsholder consent to OA.  But it does grant consent for digitization and restricted online access, and it streamlines the process of obtaining consent for OA.  For orphan works still under copyright, these are significant steps forward.

Presentations and notes from National Academies meeting on data

I attended and liveblogged the public sessions of the National Academies’ Board on Research Data and Information meeting (Washington, DC, January 29-30, 2009). Many of the presentations are also online.