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Copyright Law Is Killing Science 323

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the lessig-says-some-stuff dept.
HansonMB writes "Whereas copyright tends to focus on protecting artists' ability to make money from their work, scientists don't use similar incentives. And yet, her work is often kept within the gates of the ivory tower, reserved for those whose universities or institutions have purchased access, often at high costs. And for science in the age of the internet, which wants ideas to spread as widely as possible to encourage more creativity and development, this isn't just bad: it's immoral."
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Copyright Law Is Killing Science

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  • ...To prevent the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for unlimited Times to Authors and Inventors and Trolls the exclusive Right to all Writings and Discoveries.
  • Patents as well (Score:4, Insightful)

    by StillNeedMoreCoffee (123989) on Tuesday April 26, 2011 @04:56PM (#35947348)

    Government work should be public domain and PHD thesis I think are required to be. But the busness end of Academia is going whole hog into getting not only copyright but patents locked down. In my teaching they were trying to copyright all instructional material and video presentations with no benefit for the instructors. Certainly not only should schools add to the public domain but patents and copyrights should belong to the creators of that intellectual property.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by reebmmm (939463)

      Work at a different school or negotiate a better contract, if you can. At many universities, the inventors (typically the grad. student or principal investigator) are the owners of their own works, in the first instance, but they can always choose to let the invention be prosecuted and maintained by their TTO. The exception is for research done with Federal funds which is subject Bayh-Dole and, frankly, the terms of the sponsor agreement with the government.

      • Re:Patents as well (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 26, 2011 @06:18PM (#35947982)

        Work at a different school or negotiate a better contract, if you can. At many universities, the inventors (typically the grad. student or principal investigator) are the owners of their own works, in the first instance, but they can always choose to let the invention be prosecuted and maintained by their TTO. The exception is for research done with Federal funds which is subject Bayh-Dole and, frankly, the terms of the sponsor agreement with the government.

        Are you really that fucking stupid??? *Every* university requires that their graduate students and professors sign away all their intellectual work while at the university. Which fantasy university are talking about where graduate students can negotiate better contracts? Which alternate-dimension United States do you live in where students can actually just go from school to school as needed?

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward
          Oh for mod points. This post is true. I've worked at three different universities and I own *none* of my work. In most journals (PLoS and the like might be exceptions but I haven't yet published there) you sign over your rights to the journal. Without a subscription, personal or through a university, I can't even read some of my own papers. For the one patent I'm on I got some cash from the university, but the university and not me is the patent owner. This is standard operating procedure and naturall
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          Not all universities make students and professors sign away their work. University of Waterloo policy [uwaterloo.ca] is that the creators retain all rights, presumably because the university likes to brag about students who started companies based on work done in their research or as design projects. It's easier for students to form companies to brag about if you stay out of the way and let them do the heavy lifting if they want to. I wouldn't be surprised if you could find other schools with similar philosophies.
        • by perpenso (1613749) on Tuesday April 26, 2011 @11:34PM (#35949892)

          Are you really that fucking stupid??? *Every* university requires that their graduate students and professors sign away all their intellectual work while at the university.

          At the University of California researchers, both faculty and students, are required to inform a technology transfer office of any discovery that is potentially patentable. This agency handles all the paperwork and other legal issues, and it also handles licensing the patent to interested commercial organizations. The fees collected for the licensing gets split:
          *** 25% for the researcher ***
          25% for the researcher's department
          50% for the UC system

          Also the fees take into account the nature of the licensing organization. Small local startups are changed less than large out-of-state conglomerates.

          At least that's what I recall from the presentation I attended in 2007.

        • Maybe he is just outside the USA? Here in Brazil, at the good and serious universities (which are Public, by the way), a part of the patent an\or copyright is always kept by the researches, usually 50%.

        • Re:Patents as well (Score:4, Interesting)

          by dcollins (135727) on Wednesday April 27, 2011 @01:18AM (#35950270) Homepage

          "Are you really that fucking stupid??? *Every* university requires that their graduate students and professors sign away all their intellectual work while at the university."

          Bullshit. For example, CUNY policy on intellectual property (http://portal.cuny.edu/cms/id/cuny/documents/level_3_page/001173.htm)

          General Rule:
          1. The Creator shall own all rights in Copyrightable Works.
          2. The University shall own all rights in other Intellectual Property.

          So clearly not "every university" and not "all intellectual work". Note that CUNY is the largest urban university in the U.S. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CUNY).

          • Re:Patents as well (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Phillip2 (203612) on Wednesday April 27, 2011 @07:33AM (#35951610)

            > General Rule:
            > 1. The Creator shall own all rights in Copyrightable Works.
            > 2. The University shall own all rights in other Intellectual Property.

            You missed out the entirety of the next paragraph which define the exceptions. As these cover almost all of the
            most likely scenarios, it's a little empty. The policy does mean that if you write a text book, or you might be able
            to retain copyright, although under normal employment law, the university would own that.

            So the original poster was a bit strong in their statement, but he is not far wrong. For the individual scientist,
            there is very little value in intellectual property; it's just a burden. And as anyone who has had to wade through
            IP agreements with any regularity will tell you, it's a substantial one.

            The interesting point is that the same most Universities also; in practice, they make very little money from third
            strand activities, including IP rights. There are, of course, the occasional exceptions, where a single piece of IP
            make a phenomenonal amount of cash.

            In the case of the original article, however, he is referring to scientific research outputs. The only people who make
            cash out of this are the publishers, who don't actually do anything useful any more. Scientists have kind of shot
            themselves in the feet here. I expect it will stop eventually, but it's currently tied up with our promotion and grant
            awarding systems.

            Phil

        • by Carewolf (581105)

          Non-US universities.

          In some countries the author can not even sign away his rights, at best the employer can get automatic free licensing though the contract.

    • I am retired now, but I never worked anywhere but that the company, as part of its conditions of employment, did not lay claim to any and all inventions that the employee might create during the term of employment. The employee is typically forced to agree to sell any patents arising to the company for a nominal fee, usually $1. I am not saying this is good or bad, but when you join the company, it is kind of hard to not know that signing on the bottom line agrees to this practice.
      • In software development, every company I have worked for wanted to own all your work lock stock and barrel. I know one employee that left because of that and with teaching at a university that had the same restrictions, I had to ammend the wording on the corporate agreement because the wording suggested that all work "during employment" would be owned by them. I think the patent law should be changed to not allow the rights to be held by a corporation but always with the individual. But then we will get c

      • Re:Patents as well (Score:5, Interesting)

        by element-o.p. (939033) on Tuesday April 26, 2011 @06:33PM (#35948088) Homepage
        The company I work for had similar language in the contract I signed. However, before signing that contract, I negotiated slightly different terms with the HR person. Bottom line, I agreed that all software or inventions I created *on company time or with company resources* would belong to the company; however, any software or inventions I created *on my own time* were mine. I also agreed that I wouldn't use my "insider knowledge" of the company to create a tool that I knew the company needed on my own time so that I could license it back to the company, nor would I create products or services in my off time to compete with the company I work for.

        So, yeah...the terms you mention are pretty much typical in the tech industry, but you can sometimes negotiate terms that will alleviate your employer's ethics or competition concerns while still allowing you to create and own things that are unrelated to the company's business interest.
    • Re:Patents as well (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ClickOnThis (137803) on Tuesday April 26, 2011 @05:31PM (#35947638) Journal

      Government work should be public domain and PHD thesis I think are required to be.

      That's news to me. My PhD dissertation is copyright by me, although I granted my university and my country's national library the right to distribute it.

      Some PhD dissertations can be classified Top Secret, if they involve state or military secrets. I know at least one person whose dissertation was such.

      As much as I favor the broad distribution of knowledge, ultimately I think the distribution of the results will depend on what the researcher arranges or negotiates with the institution who is paying him/her. Generally I favor the individual creator having copyright control.

      But the busness end of Academia is going whole hog into getting not only copyright but patents locked down.

      Don't be too quick to dismiss academic involvement with patents. As long as the patents themselves aren't "evil" I think academic institutions can provide valuable support to researchers who want to file patents, as long as the terms are fair.

      In my teaching they were trying to copyright all instructional material and video presentations with no benefit for the instructors. Certainly not only should schools add to the public domain but patents and copyrights should belong to the creators of that intellectual property.

      I agree that the instructors should be allowed to benefit freely from their own work. I confess I'm uncertain whether allowing a benevolent institution to hold the copyright (instead of the creator) is necessarily a bad thing.

      • I think one of the central issues is whether a patent stops progress or creates progress. It only creates progress in the incentive for new work to be done. It stiffles progress when others want to extend that work or improve on it or use it to create new work. The patent rights hold back innovation in this way. Therefore I feel that patents and copyrights probably don't belong in Acedemia. They should not be looking at extending the field of knowledge as a gold mine. Just like orivate prisons have a ves

        • It only creates progress in the incentive for new work to be done. It stiffles progress when others want to extend that work or improve on it or use it to create new work. The patent rights hold back innovation in this way.

          Wow what? The whole point of a patent is to grant a temporary monopoly in exchange for teaching your 'art' to the world. If someone patents a better mousetrap, you can build upon that and patent the improved version. This is exactly how it works, and is why every patent cites countless other patents.

          You are talking about 'trade secrets.' For example, a patent might utilize a certain processes; however the materials used to make the materials in that process are trade secrets. These non patented inventi

          • by pieterh (196118)

            The whole point of a patent is to grant a temporary monopoly in exchange for teaching your 'art' to the world.

            The 'trade secrets' argument is a crafted legend that was debunked in the 19th century [digitalmajority.org].

            tl;dr:

            There were (and still are) four objections to the [inducement to disclose] argument. First, since most ideas develop simultaneously and independently in different places, no single disclosure is worth very much. Second, technological secret are hard to keep for long in any case. Third, when inventors think t

        • by swillden (191260) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Tuesday April 26, 2011 @08:36PM (#35948854) Homepage Journal

          I think one of the central issues is whether a patent stops progress or creates progress. It only creates progress in the incentive for new work to be done.

          The purpose of patents is not to create an incentive for new work to be done. The purpose is to enable new work to build on older (patented) work, by convincing inventors to publish their inventions rather than keeping them secret.

          The way to tell if a patent system is working is to look at how many inventors are making use of the patent database to get ideas, or to find solutions to problems they're struggling with. A really good patent system would make the following interaction commonplace (but with real content rather than technobabble):

          Engineer: Hey, boss, I've been trying to come up with a way to reverse the polarity in the tachyon waveform inducer and I'm having some trouble. I have some ideas about how to solve it, but I think it's going to take me at least six months to work out the details.

          Manager: Hmm. We had planned to have that done by the end of the quarter. Have you done a patent search to see if this is a solved problem?

          Engineer: Not yet, but it's on my list of things to do. You really think someone has already got this figured out, and published it?

          Manager: Heck if I know, but with millions of new patents being filed every year, I'd say it's worth at least a couple of hours searching.

          Engineer: I'll get right on that.

          [A couple of hours pass]

          Engineer: Hey, boss! Good idea on the patent search. It turns out that an inventor in Okeechobee filed a patent for a really slick tachyon induction polarity inverter just last year. It's exactly what we need and she's already solved a bunch of problems I hadn't even considered. I think I can have a working prototype integrated within a few days after we get a license to the patent.

          Mangaer: Great! Send me the patent number and I'll have our attorney get a letter to her right away. I'll bet we can get a license within the week. This will cut a month -- maybe two! -- off the time to market for our new product. Thank goodness for patents!

    • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

      But if we don't have strong Intellectual Property laws then all the great industrialists - the great creative minds - will simply walk away from our society of leeches and we'll never have those cars that run on static electricity and the reardon metal butt plugs!

      Just look at the way the Galt of Our Times, John DeLorean, walked away and left the rest of us to suffer in our slop! Personally, I'm prepared to beg DeLorean to come back and save us!

      Can you tell that last weekend I saw a preview of what might be

    • by jc42 (318812)

      Certainly not only should schools add to the public domain but patents and copyrights should belong to the creators of that intellectual property.

      It might be worth noting that some high-profile journals, notably Nature and Science, require that the submitter of the paper hold the copyright. If your university or research institute claims the copyright on your papers, you can't get them published in Nature or Science.

      This sorta makes sense, since to publish them, the journal has to have a license from the copyright owner. Both of these journals have decided that they won't accept a copyright license from a corporation (and a university is a corpo

    • If they would pay researchers better to not patent things then they wouldn't try to patent them. For example, research assistants get paid shit. I know because I am one. You can't even support yourself on this wage. If I were to stumble across something that seemed like it would guarantee me money through contracts or licensing, I would patent it.
  • by reebmmm (939463) on Tuesday April 26, 2011 @04:59PM (#35947380)

    Look: copyright has nothing to do with it. If you don't want the publication locked up, don't publish in journals that make you give up all your rights or negotiate a different deal. The fact is, on this point, copyright isn't necessary because the terms of the contract would just take over. If the publisher didn't want you to publish outside its pay wall it could ask you via your contract regardless of the copyright in the work.

    This reflects more on the economic and business incentives of scientific journals than on copyright. The journals don't care about the copyright so much as they value the exclusivity and the first publication rights. Copyright is just a placeholder for a very simple non-publication clause and associated penalties (or liquidated damages).

    • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot@@@hackish...org> on Tuesday April 26, 2011 @05:21PM (#35947544)

      The paywall system wouldn't actually work without copyright. They could still manage to get anyone who signed a contract to agree not to republish it, but that would only bind the author. Other third parties might be bound by EULAs not to republish the version they accessed via a library, if the EULAs are enforceable contracts. But even in that case, if even one such third party leaked a bunch of PDFs onto the internet (violating their EULA), there would be nothing illegal about other people hosting it and republishing the articles, if they hadn't signed a contract (or agreed to an EULA). It's only copyright law that allows the publisher to demand takedowns of copies hosted by people with whom the publisher has no contractual relationship.

      • While it's true that without copyright the paywall and exclusivity agreements wouldn't work, that doesn't change the fact that the paywall and exclusivity are at the heart of the problem. Fixing this hugely important issue is something that can be accomplished almost overnight by those that it affects directly, the scientists and engineers whose work is being locked up. As opposed to copyright reform which is a political nightmare and actually quite a divisive issue for many people.

        If you bring your shin

        • Prisoner's Dilemma again.

          If you don't publish there but a little well timed back room dealing makes it the place to publish, from what I know academia has a bad habit of blackballing people as "second class researchers" because they only got to publish in some smaller journals.

          You need some kind of critical mass incentive that tips the balance. Something like "$1,000 per quality article to be published CC-Attribution" or something.

    • Easier said than done. Tenure track positions rely heavily on publication in good journals. Losing your job over a copyright is not worth it for one person, it would take an industry wide movement, which is very hard to organize.
      • So you are saying we need college professors and grad-students to unionize?
    • Nice advice, but that doesn't help me as a researcher right now.

      Every day, as I search for papers to research, I encounter pay-walls asking for $30, $40, $50 for a single paper. If I had paid for every paper I wanted to read of the course of my academic career, I the bill would have run into the tens of thousands.

      Multiply that by the number of researcher in the world and you begin to grasp the scale of the legacy problem that the world research community is facing. The last 75+ years of published papers are locked up forever in what is essentially an extortion racket.

      Bottom line, following market philosophies and greed, the academic publishing industry has hiked prices to unbelievable levels. $40 for a 200KB pdf is by now, the industry standard price. True, researchers need not pay such costs up front if their library has paid for a subscription to the required journal, but this merely passes the cost to the library and the institution to which it is attached. (I suspect researchers at wealthier institutions are utterly oblivious to the problem of academic pay-walls as their libraries have subscriptions to everything.)

      My position is simple. We don't need the academic publishing industry(Except for their illgotten trove of past papers). Papers are written, reviewed, and edited by academic volunteers for free. What should simply happen is that universities should publish their own journals, online, using the simple, cheap web distribution methods.

      The academic publishers would kick and scream about government monopolies and such rot, but they are nothing more than parasites who are stifling legitimate academic research and progress and should be ignored. Their "services" cost no more than pennies for each journal annually, yet we are expected to pay a significant percentage of our national GDPs to access research which was originally funding by the public purse anyway. Scams like this make me wonder if something is pathologically wrong with western society.

  • by RightwingNutjob (1302813) on Tuesday April 26, 2011 @05:00PM (#35947390)
    Moral science isn't about publishing (peer-reviewed) papers for all to see. Moral science is about understanding the world For the Betterment of Mankind. That requires follow-through, and follow-through requires large amounts of money to turn a publication into a product*. The only way to attract that kind of money is either 1) get the Guv'mint decree that it be directed toward your pet project, or 2) entice Big Bigness and the Richest One Percent to fund it by promising them a cut of the revenue in a legally binding contract, enforceable in the legal framework set up by the same Guv'mint. Tell me why (2) is worse than (1), and show me an example of where the Public Option has succeeded on the same scale as the private option?
    • by dpbsmith (263124) on Tuesday April 26, 2011 @05:13PM (#35947466) Homepage

      For better or for worse, the "public option" probably deserves most of the credit for developing nuclear energy, the Internet, and space travel. Radio broadcasting as we know it was also large developed by the "public option," specifically university radio stations in the 1920s, a fact that was forgotten when radio became commercializable and commercial radio pretty well eclipsed the pioneers.

      I don't think anyone can say what would have happened if the government had not chosen to fund these developments. The fact is, in the particular parallel universe we live in, they were developed publicly.

    • by NoSig (1919688) on Tuesday April 26, 2011 @05:20PM (#35947528)
      Pretty much the entirety of basic modern physics and modern cryptography. Companies are happy to turn government science into products they can profit from, they are not happy to fund basic research. Yet basic research is what those products come from in a longer perspective. Companies only do the last step of research because it is only at the last step that it becomes clear what the profitable outcome is going to be.
      • by swillden (191260)

        Companies only do the last step of research because it is only at the last step that it becomes clear what the profitable outcome is going to be.

        That's pretty much the norm these days, but it hasn't always been and it doesn't need to be. There have been plenty of corporations involved in basic research over the last century. Perhaps the most notable was AT&T's Bell Labs. Though I guess you could argue that they were part of the "public option" as well, given their monopoly status. IBM still does a non-trivial amount of basic research, most of it vaguely related to computing, but lots of it has no clear application. As do many of the other b

        • by NoSig (1919688)
          I think you're right. Corporations do do some basic research. It makes sense that if a company gets to be sufficiently large, they start to have some of the same considerations that a government does of viewing things in a more large-scale way. They can do 100 risky things and if one of them pays off, that might be OK. A smaller company can't think like that or they will quickly go out of business. I still think that it is true that basic research is rarely a good investment for a company, even big ones. Be
    • by SETIGuy (33768) on Tuesday April 26, 2011 @05:27PM (#35947602) Homepage

      I know, I should avoid answering obvious trolls especially ones who see the world only in terms of a philosophy that, much like communism, doesn't ever work in practice.

      (2) is worse than (1) because not all science can produce a profit. Even if it can, it might not be an immediate enough profit. For example, how long did it take for the photoelectric effect to have a profitable application? How about quantum mechanics? General relativity? Heliocentrism? Modeling of stellar interiors? Sequencing genomes of lichen?

      If (2) worked the way you think it would, (1) never would have been developed because the rich wouldn't have allowed government to get in the way of their revenue generation.

    • by rsilvergun (571051) on Tuesday April 26, 2011 @05:28PM (#35947604)
      Businesses don't bother with anything that doesn't have big, short term profit. They let the Guv'mint (sic) pay for it :(. Right now there's work being done on a Leukemia vaccine... in Europe. No company in the states would pay a dime for the research, because it'd be a one time vaccine that only benefits a few million people (many too poor to pay $$$ for medicine).

      Also, most of the major advances in basic science are done on the public dime, and then companies swoop in to monetize it. Look up the history of the Rail Roads in the US. Fact is, you can't build the giant cartel we know & love today w/o the Gov'mint (sic, again).
      • Businesses don't bother with anything that doesn't have big, short term profit. They let the Guv'mint (sic) pay for it :(. Right now there's work being done on a Leukemia vaccine... in Europe. No company in the states would pay a dime for the research, because it'd be a one time vaccine that only benefits a few million people (many too poor to pay $$$ for medicine).

        A quick google shows that work is ongoing on this new vaccine. I also see that it's not a vaccine in the sense that you get the vaccine to pre

        • Ah, I'm sorry, you're right. We should just forget about scientific progress all together and focus on the important stuff, like new Bentley's for the rich!

          And I don't know what the hell you googled for, but it's a vaccine. You take it once and bam, done. No more childhood Leukemia. At least, not the variety it cures. Cancer is a very complex disease. It's really a class of diseases more than a disease itself, so you probably just came across one of many research projects NOT BEING CONDUCTED IN THE UNITE
    • by SETIGuy (33768)
      I forgot to add, show we a case where the private option succeeded without building upon the work developed by people using the public option.
      • by yndrd1984 (730475)
        Just to be fair, can you show me a case where the public option even existed without building upon the private one?
        • by Dahamma (304068)

          Yeah, there was that MASSIVE private space program before NASA finally got involved.
          [Of course, there was a lot built on top of German developments in WWII, but that was still "public" ie. military resources...]

    • Tell me why (2) is worse than (1)

      It isn't, but neither is (1) worse than (2): you need both in balance. Governments are need to fund the "not yet even close to being profitable" fundamental research and private sector is needed, to convert those fundamental discoveries into profitable products.

      Government is essential for the first step because you cannot tell which avenues of fundamental research will yield the most useful results. For example nobody at the turn of the last century could have predicted that quantum mechanics would lead

  • by ciaran_o_riordan (662132) on Tuesday April 26, 2011 @05:00PM (#35947392) Homepage

    Here's an article he got published in Nature back in 2001

    http://www.nature.com/nature/debates/e-access/Articles/stallman.html [nature.com]

  • Limited resources (Score:5, Interesting)

    by diamondmagic (877411) on Tuesday April 26, 2011 @05:02PM (#35947400) Homepage

    Under natural law, you typically only own that which is limited, in such a way you can control its use exclusively. But what about ideas? They aren't limited resources, anyone can create their own instance of an idea, an invention, a writing... http://mises.org/daily/5108/Ideas-Free-and-Unfree-A-Book-Commentary [mises.org]

    • by brit74 (831798)

      Under natural law, you typically only own that which is limited, in such a way you can control its use exclusively. But what about ideas? They aren't limited resources, anyone can create their own instance of an idea, an invention, a writing... http://mises.org/daily/5108/Ideas-Free-and-Unfree-A-Book-Commentary [mises.org] [mises.org]

      My disdain for libertarians only seems to deepen the more I hear from them. This is the same website that promotes legalizing drunk driving (http://mises.org/daily/2343). Also, if this

      • . I'd actually like to hear a libertarian explain why governments have a right to tax the public. I actually don't think they could do it.

        It's quite simple. They don't. Oh, naturally you want governments to tax people because you like (some of) what they do for you, but that isn't actually a moral justification, is it?

  • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Tuesday April 26, 2011 @05:04PM (#35947418)
    I'm interested in this. Not interested enough to watch a 50 minute segment on it. Is there a transcript somewhere?

    If this is about open vs closed access journals

    1. The situation is rapidly improving. While it's not where it needs to be, in the last few years we've seen a lot more journals providing open access.
    2. The practice has been going on quite a while and we have yet to see science die. I don't think it can possibly be "killing" science. Limiting its potential, sure, but there's no way pay-for-access is having nearly as much effect as cutting funding for basic research.
    • by hweimer (709734)

      Most science papers are put on free preprint servers such as the arXiv [arxiv.org] anyway. I think it is safe to say that never before in the history of mankind such a large fraction of the population had access to the latest research results.

      • by golden age villain (1607173) on Tuesday April 26, 2011 @05:52PM (#35947780)

        Most science papers are put on free preprint servers such as the arXiv [arxiv.org] anyway.

        While arXiv and the like are popular in maths and physics, that is unfortunately definitely not true for science at large. In most of the life sciences for instance, papers are published in peer-reviewed journals with a paywall and only there. There is only a handful of publishers operating most journals in large portfolios and forcing the university libraries to cough up big bucks for the access even if they do not receive the journals in print. For Joe Sixpacks, it is even worse as the publishers sometimes ask as much as 40$ or 50$ for reading a single article.

        On the other hand, there are recent initiatives, like PLoS (http://www.plos.org/) and Frontiers (http://www.frontiersin.org/) which publish mostly online journals within a free-for-all access scheme. However, while anyone can read those articles, having them published costs quite a lot, around 2000€ roughly for both Frontiers and PLoS. So basically, while everyone can access those articles, only scientists from relatively rich institutions can actually publish in those journals. In all fairness, PLoS can offer the publication costs to some but still.

  • Killing Science? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TapeCutter (624760) on Tuesday April 26, 2011 @05:09PM (#35947446) Journal
    Hardly. This practice is a minor parasite riding on the back of Science, it's been there for at least 100yrs.
    • On the other hand, there are a lot of people out there who could be contributing to scientific progress, but who lack access to the journals and conference proceedings they need in order to do a basic literature search. Try giving a journal citation in an online discussion with people who may not be affiliated with a university, and you will see what I mean (this is more true of some fields than others).
  • Not the point (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Chemisor (97276) on Tuesday April 26, 2011 @05:22PM (#35947548)

    A scientist does not publish papers so they could be read. He publishes so he can put the citation on his CV for the purpose of improving his employment. Most of those "peer-reviewed" journals are not read by anybody; their value lies not in availability, but in prestige.

    • True prestige lies in having your work referenced by someone else.

    • Re:Not the point (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Bowling Moses (591924) on Tuesday April 26, 2011 @07:38PM (#35948562) Journal
      "A scientist does not publish papers so they could be read. He publishes so he can put the citation on his CV for the purpose of improving his employment. Most of those "peer-reviewed" journals are not read by anybody; their value lies not in availability, but in prestige."

      Do I publish articles to stick on my CV? You bet your ass. Those articles are at-a-glance evidence that when I say I know how to do skill set X, I've really done it. It also says that I get stuff done rather than sitting on my ass all day long. Where do I publish? The best journal I can (fuck Elsevier though) since prestige matters. Everybody knows what Science and Nature are. Everyone in your field also knows what the solid 2nd tier journals are and if you've published just there, that's ok. If you publish only in "The Whoosit Journal of Whatsit," then you've got a problem.

      Journal prestige aside, do I want people to read my papers? HELL YES! Does it matter if people read my papers? HELL YES! Why does it matter? If people read my papers it's because they're either interesting or relevant to their own work, or both. If they read my paper, they may cite it when they write up their own results or review article. Citation indexes exist, the most well known is probably google scholar. What the hell do you think journal prestige comes from if not from the citations the average paper published therein gets? The higher the rank of the journal, the pickier they are about what they let in, and the higher the expectations that it will get read, get cited, and influence people! Journal aside, if your paper has been out more than a year or two and nobody's cited it, your stuff doesn't fucking matter--expletive required. If your paper has been out five years and is still getting a half-dozen citations a year, you got a middling paper that fills in some important details in your field--good for you your research matters! If your paper has been out for five years and gets two dozen citations a year and you've got another half dozen just like it, then in your field you're a force to be reckoned with and everybody and their dog knows who you are. Even stepping out to related fields your name is familiar, and if you're out job hunting it's easy to check and see how influential you are by asking around your peers or checking citation indexes (google scholar again). If nobody cites your stuff, then nobody reads your stuff, and then your stuff might as well be published in "The Journal of Shit Nobody Cares About." Who wants to spend years doing shit nobody cares about? God damn right I want people to read my fucking work--expletives absolutely required.
  • There's not a movie or album I can't find online for free or stream at my convenience for no fee. The only way copyright really affects people any more are people who seek to remix works and republish them. Wikileaks is another fine example. Information may not "want" to be free, but people want to share it. If anyone's really concerned about a certain piece of research's squelching affecting world prosperity, then go leak it there instead of crying about some need for law-change and encourage others to do likewise. The law will catch up eventually.

  • Long live the Science!
  • In most (all?) jurisdictions, it's contract, not copyright, that says what the producer does with the work. You can pretend you own the work all you want, but if the contract you signed with the publisher, university, company, whatever, says you don't, then you don't.

    If we really want to make a difference, reverse that relationship: make copyright trump contract and you're cooking with gas.

  • What if all religious texts were under strict copyright since their inception? What if the churches restricted publication to its clergy? Would the world be worse off?
    • by Pfhorrest (545131) on Tuesday April 26, 2011 @05:53PM (#35947786) Homepage Journal

      Something close to that used to be the case. Not copyright per se because there was no such thing as printing and every Bible was transcribed by hand, but for about the first millennium and a half of the Church's existence most Bibles were written in Latin, which only the clergy could read. So to most people possessing a copy of the Bible would have been pointless; it was locked down, in effect, by a primitive DRM. A major point of the Protestant Reformation was the demand for Bibles written in the local languages so that people could actually read what God (supposedly) had said himself, rather than just taking the local priest's word for it.

      • by RDW (41497)

        "A major point of the Protestant Reformation was the demand for Bibles written in the local languages"

        Though this sort of blatant DRM violation was initially prosecuted quite vigorously:

        http://www.exclassics.com/foxe/foxe088.gif [exclassics.com]

        • by jc42 (318812)

          "A major point of the Protestant Reformation was the demand for Bibles written in the local languages"

          Though this sort of blatant DRM violation was initially prosecuted quite vigorously ...

          There are some interesting comments on an earlier instance of this in James Chambers' "The Devil's Horsemen", a history of the Mongol invasion(s) during the 13th century. Part of the story was that the first expedition, led by a young Genghis (not yet Khan), was basically exploratory. They'd heard some horror stories about the far West, and wanted to learn if the people there were as evil and warlike as reported. So they sent out a team of explorers, linguists, and soldiers to protect them, to learn wha

    • by brit74 (831798)
      The goal of religions is to spread their message as far and wide as possible - which means not putting it under copyright. Of course, they also have a little thing called the "tithe" which brings in quite a bit more money than any copyright ever has. Even the relatively small Mormon church is close to surpassing the music sales of the RIAA. (The Mormon church reportedly had revenue of $4.7 billion/year back in 1991 - http://www.nytimes.com/1991/07/02/us/income-of-mormon-church-is-put-at-4.7-billion-a-yea [nytimes.com]
      • Actually, one of the most widely-used translations of the Bible (NIV) is under copyright. It seems they can copyright particular translations, if not the original text.

  • I'm about 10 minutes in, and bored out of my skull, as it doesn't seem that we are going anywhere..... right now, Lessign is reviewing copyright law back to the 1700s in teh house of lords.....
    what I have learned is that he is a typical Harvard Preparation H: he constantly mentions his fellow H profs as , at a minimum as able to walk on water...
  • As an example:

    Extract from the University Of Manchester IP Ltd Website http://www.umip.com/university_policy.htm [umip.com]:

    The University of Manchester, through the provisions of the Patents Act 1977 and the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988, owns the intellectual property rights (IPR) in patentable inventions, computer software, designs and other copyrightable material arising from the research activities of its staff.

    The nett income from exploitation is shared with staff and their departments and in accordance

    • by mcmonkey (96054)

      As an example:

      Extract from the University Of Manchester IP Ltd Website http://www.umip.com/university_policy.htm [umip.com]:

      The University of Manchester, through the provisions of the Patents Act 1977 and the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988, owns the intellectual property rights (IPR) in patentable inventions, computer software, designs and other copyrightable material arising from the research activities of its staff.

      The nett income from exploitation is shared with staff and their departments and in accordance with a reward scheme approved by the University's Board of Governors.

      I am third year physics student in the UK, hoping to go on to do PHD work in one of the nuclear energy fields, most likely fusion research. The big thing that has worried me for a while is the possibility that I can make a discovery only to have the University I work for pounce on it with patents and copyrighting that prevent the unhindered use of that discovery to improve the world.

      I'm not for a moment bigheaded enough to think I would make such a discovery personally, but the concept is a frightening one; the idea that a technology that could revolutionize some part of our world never seeing the light of day, because an academic institution is more interested in profiteering than in actually furthering the cause of science.

      As a previous poster (RightwingNutJob) said "Moral science isn't about publishing (peer-reviewed) papers for all to see. Moral science is about understanding the world For the Betterment of Mankind."

      Problem is investing in development of real world things from this research is costly, and not always successful. If before even starting on the research a company has to pay through the nose to license the idea, that makes said company less likely to bother in the first place surely?

      Open Source University Anyone?

      How does the U make a profit on your idea if it never sees the light of day? Doesn't the profit motive give the U incentive to get your innovations out to the world?

      And how is this different from an employer? The folks who pay the bills--pay for the labs and computers and lights and empty the trash bins--own the work. If you want to own your work, then work for yourself. Otherwise, that is the trade you make in exchange for salary, stipend, tuition, or whatever.

      You bemoan the expense of starting the com

      • by jc42 (318812)

        How does the U make a profit on your idea if it never sees the light of day? Doesn't the profit motive give the U incentive to get your innovations out to the world?

        There have been any number of histories written explaining that the primary effect of patent law has always been to block further progress until the patents expire. There was a widely-quoted example a few years back, explaining why James Watt didn't make any profit from his improvements to the steam engine during the time he held several critical patents. He spent all his time and money on legal battles with other inventors, with the result that none of them were able to actually implement the steam-pow

  • Refereed online publications not associated with a publishing house are the answer. Or at least they would be the answer if people used them. Unrefereed sites like arxiv.org have too many bad papers. The refereed publications there are fine, but some journals demand the authors give up electronic publication rights.

    All of my papers, except the last two are available there. The last two are in copyright limbo for a while.

  • It's also stupid and pointless. Thoughtlessness is much more harmful to society than immorality ever could be.

  • Science does not 'want' anything

  • It's a good thing. Yeah the internet* is a means to easily and cheaply to move data. That doesn't make it a moral ground, just a technical won.

    Based on what I have seen int he last 10 years, there is real benefit for research to spend int's initial life held wityhing acadamia and the proper science community.

    How many people have died because the general public didn't have the ability to understand the Wakefield paper?
    How many times has the media cause alarm and panic over a paper they don't understand?
    The m

  • You can't copyright facts, so if a scientific paper is copyrightable...I have no reason to read it.

    What?

  • Check out http://www.plosone.com/ [plosone.com] New model for publishing where the publication is paid for by the grant and offered free and unencumbered to the public.
  • So, if you allow intellectual feudalism, a feudal system that allows access to resources by a hierarchy of powerful, privileged few ?

    why, that would be something new, if it did not happen in middle ages already.
  • A better approach is to put language in the funding contract stating that the money can only be used to produce research into the public domain. Funding is upstream, and such language trumps labs from giving away rights they don't have. If the researchers don't like it, they can find funding elsewhere. Eventually, the publications would have to adapt, as they'd find fewer and fewer big names publish.

    From the funder's (AKA taxpayer's) perspective, this is a perfectly reasonable approach and outcome. Naturall

  • Copyright Law Is Killing Science
    Christians are Killing Science
    Funding Cuts are Killing Science
    Patents are Killing Science
    Junk Science is Killing Science
    Conservatives are Killing Science
    Publishing is Killing Science
    Public Education is Killing Science
    Corporations are Killing Science
    Capitalism is Killing Science
    Immigration is Killing Science
    Feminism [huffingtonpost.com] is Killing Science (!)
    Political Correctness is Killing Science
    Networks [science20.com] are Killing Science
    Too Many Scientists [the-scientist.com] are Killing Science
    Too Few Scientists [theatlantic.com] are Killing Sci

    • by mjwx (966435)
      Looks like science is remarkably hard to kill.

      Finally a target worthy of my skill as a hunter.

      Jeeves, prepare my shotgun and book me on the fasted boat to the country where Science lives. By Job I'll gut him.
  • Most of the publisher agreements I've been asked to sign (granted, in philosophy, not in science; I vaguely recall that the same was basically true in mathematics when I was publishing more regularly there) allow researchers to put a preprint up on their own website. Then the paper is available to anybody who wants it just by Googling for the title.
  • Most standards are written by volunteers who (or whose companies) even pay for their travel to meetings. All standards are copyright, and except for a few SDOs such as the IETF, most have to be purchased. SDOs, including professional societies, use sales of standards to support their central staffs. For IEC standards, even the volunteers who prepare them are expected to buy the final copies (the draft standards are marked as being only for the purpose of preparing comments). A single user set of the fir

  • It doesn't matter whether it is science or industry. Quality and costs suffer due to patents. For example if you produce a small electronic product you have to avoid using any portion of anything that can be considered patented. So you select inferior ways of accomplishing the same task to avoid infringement. Even if it is primarily cost control rather than fear of infringement you are altering the best design to avoid the patent issues. The end user gets stuck with a lesser product that costs a lot mo

  • Wrong (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sqrt(2) (786011) on Tuesday April 26, 2011 @08:54PM (#35948942) Journal

    Whereas copyright tends to focus on protecting artists' ability to make money from their work

    Nope. Stop right there. It may be said that it is supposed to do as such, but today we see copyright being used by PUBLISHERS to control the artists and restrict users. Copyright as it is today is immoral, and no one has an obligation to recognize it as legitimate. We're all free to disregard it as much as we can reasonably get away with without personal harm from the enforcers in government who slavishly back the copyright cartels at the expense of our freedom and culture.

  • by LordLimecat (1103839) on Tuesday April 26, 2011 @10:08PM (#35949398)

    "Sensationalist Headlines are Killing Slashdot"

  • http://peswiki.com/index.php/OS:Economic_Transformation [peswiki.com]
    "So, when you think about the financial aspects of your innovation, please consider that fundamental things may change with cheap energy. Please consider how the scarcity-based economic model we all grew up with still govern so much about how innovations such as cold fusion are created, discussed, and distributed. Please consider that a scarcity-based economic model, and all the thinking and fiat-dollar-based financial conflict that relates to it, may b

  • Hey remember when Galileo was persecuted on his ideas of Science (heliocentric) and during that time Ptolemaic/Aristotelian scientists where at the top of their game? And back then ancient Greek philosophy/science was treated as correct, fact, and not questioned. Of course, also in Galileo's time, science was heavily integrated into business, politics and religion... hmmm. sounds familiar?

    Well folks, we are in that same pattern currently. I'm just waiting for that Galileo-type scientist to appear to change the paradigm once again for the better of the human race. Unfortunately with the way information moves today, it's going to be someone we don't expect (some that does stuff in an unorthodox way) and faced with much harder resistance than 1600. We are at that time in history again my friends--and it is actually good.

  • Hello,

        I can say from my personal experience that these paywalls on journal articles are hindering my ability to accomplish research. My institution doesn't normally subscribe to medical journals, yet it looks like the best source for some information I want is in those journals.

        However, I can NOT tell for certain from abstracts that the articles actually contain ANYTHING of use to me.

        It comes down to a case of playing 'bobbing for apples, for $40/shot'.

        This is a sorry state of affairs.

    --PM

We warn the reader in advance that the proof presented here depends on a clever but highly unmotivated trick. -- Howard Anton, "Elementary Linear Algebra"

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