For Whom the Gate Tolls?

Stevan Harnad harnad at ecs.soton.ac.uk
Tue Nov 4 06:32:53 EST 2003


On Tue, 4 Nov 2003, Barry Mahon wrote:

> Apropos... of my message recently about single article sales here is an 
> interesting item about a 'change of economics':
> 
> A new report from Billboard magazine shows that online music purchases
> have surpassed sales of CD singles.
> http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/3237021.stm

First, let me note that I made an error when I replied to the first
posting about iTunes. I have since added this to the AmSci Archive:

    [Note: The [first] reply by me was based on a misunderstanding on
    my part, as I did not yet know what iTunes was. I incorrectly assumed
    it was something like napster. In reality, it is merely a variant of
    pay-per-view -- one of the three forms of toll-barriers to access:
    Subscriptions, Site-Licenses, and Pay-Per-View. I have accordingly
    redirected further postings on this topic from the "Napster" thread to
    "For Whom the Gate Tolls?" Apologies, SH]

But having admitted my own initial misunderstanding of what iTunes was,
now that I know it's just single-item pay-per-view, let me state with
full confidence and conviction that pay-per-view is most certainly *not*
the solution for the problem of access to refereed research. It is
completely irrelevant and indeed misleading. The access problem is
the problem of toll-booths, or toll-based access-denial to would-be
users. This problem is certainly not solved by simply redirecting the
tolls on a per-item basis instead of a blanket subscription or license
basis!

The napster *disanalogy* is still relevant, though: What makes this
special literature -- the refereed research article literature --
different from just about all other literature, and also different from
the tunes sold by singers, is that unlike singers (and most book authors),
the authors of refereed research articles do not wish to sell them but
to give them away, as their only goal is to maximize their usage and
impact, not to earn royalties from their sales. This is true of
subscription sales, license sales, and pay-per-item sales. Toll-booths
and the requirement of payment of any kind for access to their work is
contrary to the interests of researchers and always was, even in the
paper era. But only in the online era are access-tolls and access-denial
no longer necessary -- at all.

So please, let us not hold up new ways that the music (or publishing)
industry may find of exacting toll-based payment for online products as
some sort of model for or solution to the problem of research access. We
are talking about the access of those would-be users who do not have
access to the dollars or even the pennies it costs to pay per item they
might have used otherwise. And we are talking about millions and millions
of potential daily accesses and uses in a toll-free click-through corpus
that would simply be stillborn in a toll-gated one.

http://www.ecs.soton.ac.uk/~harnad/Hypermail/Amsci/0695.html
http://www.eprints.org/self-faq/#24.Napster

Stevan Harnad

NOTE: Complete archive of the ongoing discussion of providing open
access to the peer-reviewed research literature online is available at
the American Scientist September Forum (98 & 99 & 00 & 01 & 02 & 03):
    http://amsci-forum.amsci.org/archives/september98-forum.html
    http://www.cogsci.soton.ac.uk/~harnad/Hypermail/Amsci/index.html
    Posted discussion to: september98-forum at amsci-forum.amsci.org 

Dual Open-Access Strategy:
    BOAI-2: Publish your article in a suitable open-access journal
            whenever one exists.
    BOAI-1: Otherwise, publish your article in a suitable toll-access
            journal and also self-archive it.
    http://www.soros.org/openaccess/read.shtml
    http://www.ecs.soton.ac.uk/~harnad/Temp/berlin.htm




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