Looming Access Copyright Win

Access Copyright appears to be on the verge of successfully cowing Canadian universities into paying for their own harassment, and is doing so with the full support of the AUCC. In fact, as Ariel Katz describes it, the particular steps the AUCC has taken in the matter virtually coerce individual Universities into accepting this very bad agreement, and in fact the AUCC paid for legal advice from sources inimical to the interests of their stakeholders.

If you get the feeling, as a student, a taxpayer, or an University employee with any residual sense of commitment to fair play, that you are being fleeced… well, you are. The result will be bad.

The good news is, of course, that this is a blip. The worldwide trend is to open access materials, as recently demonstrated by TOR (a publisher which recently removed DRM from all its works), by the University of Minnesota (which has just catalogued open access electronic textbooks), and by Harvard, which informed their faculty that they cannot afford to pay for journals anymore, and asks them to cease supporting commercial journals with their submissions and editorial work.

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  1. David Collier-Brown

    Slightly off-topic, but the counter-pressure toward open access should be considerable. Locking people out of using what they own or limiting their access has been tried repeatedly, and has failed every time.

    In the computer world, the first thing tried was “special diskettes”, which were required to be in the drive if the program was ro run (apple ][, CP/M). Defeated by software and hardware engineers

    Then there were “dongles”, plugged into printer ports or serial ports on IBM PCs. Defeated by hardware engineers.

    Then there were cryptographic “locks”. Defeated by mathematicians and software engineers.

    In every case, the customer had the program and a “key” that unlocked it. If anyone has both, you can formally prove that that person can defeat the protection scheme.

    Returning to the subject, anyone who tries to limit the use of one’s property without the color of law will fail. The next battleground is the law-court, a place singularly suited to the battle between good and the banality of evil.

    –dave (on Friday, feeling a touch prophetic) c-b