Re: APS copyright policy

From: Thomas J. Walker <tjwalker_at_MAIL.IFAS.UFL.EDU>
Date: Mon, 4 Mar 2002 18:04:19 -0500

At 09:45 PM 3/4/2002 +0000, you wrote:
>On Mon, 4 Mar 2002, Thomas J. Walker wrote:
> > Stevan and I agree that
> > (1) Immediate free web access to the journal literature is optimal and
> > inevitable.
> > (2) Funding the journal literature will switch from user-pays to
> > author-or-author's-funder pays.
> > Stevan thinks of IFWA as access to PDF files. I think of it as access to
> > the publisher-certified version.
>That's fine. Nothing hinges on that distinction. I accept.
> > Blume's contribution to Nature's e-access forum
> > (
> > ... proposes that APS make the transition to universal free
> > access via institutional sponsorships, thereby avoiding the reluctance of
> > authors to pay submission or publication fees.
>Doesn't work! Free access means free access on the reader (i.e.,
>reader-institution) end. Any institutional payment for the INCOMING
>literature is -- by logic, and by any definition of the word free, NOT
>FREE. It is then just an institutional license, which you either pay, or
>you don't get access. (And if it's voluntary, forget it. Economic
>pressures, human nature, the prisoner's dilemma, and the tragedy of the
>commons says institutions will opt out for a free ride.)
>No, the only way to make it work is to charge for what is being provided,
>to whom it is being provided: The service is peer review, and it is being
>provided to the author-institution PER OUTGOING PAPER, not to the
>reader-institution, per incoming journal. One is a submission fee, the
>other is the usual: a subscription fee.

If you read Blume's last few paragraphs
(, you
will find that the sponsorships he proposes are to make the articles free
to all. He compares this type of funding to public television in the USA,
where a few pay voluntarily and everyone enjoys the programs for free.

Whether this model will work for APS (and others?) remains to be seen.


> > Should not professional societies
> > provide their authors (and the authors' funders) the opportunity to show if
> > they value free access enough to pay a fair price for it?
>Free access to what? We agree that they can have free access to the
>peer-reviewed draft by self-archiving it. Are you suggesting that they
>should pay the extra for the certified peer-reviewed draft?


>I doubt
>they would, but suppose they did. What would then be the next step?

As outlined previously.


>But, as you note, we do have a choice. We can self-archive our
>peer-reviewed drafts for free, or we can pay to have the "certified"
>drafts made freely accessible, and keep paying more and more as
>cancellations go up. Let's see what happens!

Agreed! But first publishers will have to give their authors an IFWA
option. I don't expect commercial publishers to do so, but I have a hard
time understanding why society publishers are so reluctant. [I think it is
because they fear free access and its concomitant loss of
subscription/license revenue. Do they not realize that free access is

Tom Walker

Thomas J. Walker
Department of Entomology & Nematology
PO Box 110620 (or Natural Area Drive)
University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611-0620
E-mail: (or
FAX: (352)392-0190
Received on Mon Mar 04 2002 - 23:30:51 GMT

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