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Since the beginning of 2017, over 60 large German universities and other research institutions lack access to journals published by scientific publishing giant Elsevier. Paradoxically, this escalation in the conflict between research institutions and Elsevier is actually a good thing. To a certain degree, the battle puts to test a great thought experiment provided by James Heathers last year. In his post he applied The Garbage Strike Test to the contemporary scientific publishing system:
What happens [when garbagemen just stop doing their job]? Almost immediately, massive stinking middens of rancid trash build up. Streets became partially inaccessible. Rats run rampant. Cities marinate in their own furious stink. Rocks are thrown at strike-breakers and scabs. Mayors call meetings.
In the end, garbagemen win in such struggles because they are (a) truly necessary, (b) on the right side of public opinion, and (c) something whose absence horrifies people utterly. If you apply this scenario to large academic publishers, assuming that they “suddenly refused anyone any access to any of their copyrighted materials at 9am tomorrow morning ”, the outcome would differ substantially: Read the rest of this entry »
More than seven years ago in 2002, Google launched its automated news aggregator “Google News”: Articles are selected and ranked by an algorithm according to characteristics such as issue frequency, freshness, location, relevance and diversity. On its front page Google News presents the headlines and about 200 characters of some articles together with links to the full texts where available online.
Not later than 2005 Google had to face the first law suits dealing with alleged copyright infringement filed by news agencies (e.g. Agence France Presse). Their claim: Google generates revenue using their content without proper compensation. But news agencies are not the only ones demanding their share from Google’s profits. Recently, the European Publisher Council (EPC) as well as the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) and several of their member organizations signed the “Hamburg Declaration on Intellectual Property Rights” (see list of signatories) that bemoans too little protection and compensation of online content. In Germany, the Federation of German Newspaper Publishers (BDVZ) even calls for a new and all-embracing ancillary copyright with lump-sum payments as compensation for revenues third parties like Google make with their content.
Critics of these claims, however, accuse publishing houses of simply failing to develop new business models and therefore now trying to lobby for legally enforced compensation. One of these critics, blogger Malte Welding, compared the CEOs of publishing houses to zoo directors in a very entertaining piece (in Google-English) in the German online-only paper “netzzeitung”: Read the rest of this entry »