Re: Report on Santa Fe Initiative (Interoperable Eprint Archives)

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Tue, 23 Nov 1999 18:06:41 +0000

> I'm finishing up my story and realize I need to get a quick comment from
> you on one point that comes up in the story. Donald W. King, co-author of a
> forthcoming book, "Toward Electronic Journals: Realities for Scientists,
> Librarians, and Publishers," argues that the global archive ought to collect
> a small royalty fee for each journal article that is downloaded from it.
> That fee would go to the publisher. He says that ACM, for one, has used this
> model successfully. I assume that you would oppose such fees. Am I correct?

You bet, I would oppose it!

The reason that I have always gone to the trouble to spell out long-hand
the full trade troika -- Subscription/Site-License/Pay-Per-View [S/L/P]
-- is that all three are really just variants of EXACTLY THE SAME THING:
holding the literature hostage behind a financial firewall instead of
freeing it for one and all.

Although some publishers love to trade S, L & P off against one another
in people's minds, as if they were truly alternatives to one another
(and librarians naively join the ritual, not realizing that what they
save on one, they just lose on the other), S/L/P are just trivial
notational variants of one and the same thing: toll-gates on a
give-away literature (and Don King's candidate is simply "P"!).

(This is also why I cannot support the SPARC initiative -- --
which is merely aiming at LOWERING journal access fees, rather than
ELIMINATING them altogether.)

For there is no need to pick any of these poisons, S, L, or P, any
more: The journal literature can be completely freed by self-archiving,
and the tiny residual costs, once necessity has been the mother of
invention, and publishers have downsized themselves into providers of
the SERVICE of quality-control/certification instead of the PRODUCT of
journals copies (whether paper or online, and whether paid for by S, L
or P), then their remaining expenses -- less than 20% of what they are
now per article -- can instead be recovered from a
quality-control/certification fee for each accepted article, paid for
by the author-institution up-front out of 20% of the savings from the
cancellation of all S/L/P. And the result a refereed, certified
literature, fire-wall free, for everyone, everywhere, forever.


Stevan Harnad
Professor of Cognitive Science
Department of Electronics and phone: +44 23-80 592-582
Computer Science fax: +44 23-80 592-865
University of Southampton
Highfield, Southampton
Received on Wed Feb 10 1999 - 19:17:43 GMT

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