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My lab:

Everyone is shouting it from the rooftops already: Elsevier has dropped its support for the Research Works Act. As mentioned before, to me, this doesn't change my stance towards corporate publishers one bit. As John Baez said in his comment to Timothy Gowers' G+ post:
For companies like Elsevier, the great thing about bills like the Research Work Act is that they make us work hard just to keep the status quo, instead of what we really want: changing the status quo.
The approx. US$40k Elsevier spent on Reps. Issa and Maloney were dollars once set aside by an institution to pay for access to scholarly works. With more than a billion US$ in profit per year, in the two months that Open Access advocates have been busy defending Open Access, Elsevier has made just about 165 million in profits. With that return on investment, Elsevier can go on forever without any credible threat to their bottom line.

What needs to happen is that scholars need to go into the offensive rather than merely reacting to publishers' moves. Supporting the FRPAA is one intermediary step in this direction, but more needs to follow. This may be in the form of an initiative to move all our scholarly communication over to libraries or some other action aiming at bringing our works back under our control. Whatever it is, if we want to move towards greater functionality in scholarly publishing, we need to attack the bottom line of the corporations or the only thing we'll see are the kinds of token efforts we can see in the Elsevier press release.

Because of the emotionality to be seen everywhere, I'm cautiously optimistic that the RWA incident may have served as a rallying cry or galvanization point for such movements, but I'm not holding my breath. An industry with around 4 billion US$ practically burning a hole in their pockets has a lot to lose and plenty of resources to prevent any such loss.

Therefore, it is important to keep the pressure on right now and to remember that we, the public institutions, hold the purse-strings to the corporate profits. We decide directly about the money that will be used against us. Stop subscribing to journals from corporate publishers and use the saved funds to create something better that is under our own control and therefore directly benefits the taxpayer.
Posted on Monday 27 February 2012 - 17:25:42 comment: 0

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