SCHOLARLY COMMUNICATION ISSUES

A NEWSLETTER FOR THE UIUC COMMUNITY

Issue No. 11 February 11, 2002


Paula Kaufman, University Librarian

Editor

TODAY’S NEWS IS THE STUFF OF TOMORROW’S SCHOLARSHIP:

In the immediate aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks, America's news media responded with predominantly solid, fact-based news coverage. But more recently, the amount of unattributed opinion and speculation infiltrating print and electronic news content has increased by half, according to the Project for Excellence in Journalism. Researchers examined 2,496 stories in four key newspapers, two magazines, and a variety of national TV news programs from mid-September, mid-November, and mid-December. In mid-September, 75 percent of the material was ranked as being strictly factual. By December, fact-based content had dropped to 63 percent -- worse than during the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal, according to the study, which also found that 82% of December's print accounts were factual compared to 57% of what was on TV. Possible contributors to the decline: government restrictions on journalists, newsroom cutbacks, and increased media competition. (Editor & Publisher/AP 28 Jan 2002) http://www.editorandpublisher.com/editorandpublisher/headlines/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1281820

WITH NETLIBRARY/OCLC DEAL FINALIZED, CHALLENGES, CHANGES AFOOT

Though much of netLibrary's future is still being mapped, OCLC president Jay Jordan has said that, indeed, librarians can expect changes, including a change in netLibrary's pricing policies. "We've talked to hundreds of librarians, both users and nonusers, as well as many publishers and distribution partners to better understand what the netLibrary business model was," said Jordan. As for the big question on librarians' minds--pricing--Jordan says that no final pricing plan has yet been worked out. Jordan did say that a pricing change was forthcoming. "We're working hard trying to develop the right pricing model," Jordan said. "We're trying to do this in as collaborative a fashion as possible." Jordan said the company was "very close" to developing a viable pricing model and was confident the model would succeed with libraries. "We would not have completed the sale were we not confident," he noted. Meanwhile, Jordan says, the immediate tasks now at hand for OCLC are to stabilize a core team in netLibrary's Boulder, CO, headquarters, restore faith in netLibrary among libraries, publishers, and distributors, and to work to increase the flow of content from publishers. "We've got to get netLibrary operating at break-even as soon as possible—but I can tell you this, the marketing plan isn't to alienate 6600 netLibrary users or the publishers that provide content." LC Academic Newswire, January 31, 2002

 

HOW RAPIDLY IS SCHOLARLY COMMUNICATION CHANGING?

In his latest look at scholarly communication, mathematician Andrew Odlyzko tries to justify the changes in scholarly communication. He concludes that traditional journals, even those available electronically, are changing slowly even though there is rapid change in scholarly communication, in which use is moving quickly to electronic formats. He writes, "the growth rates in usage of electronic scholarly information are sufficiently high that if they continue for a few years, there will be no doubt that print versions will be eclipsed. Further, much of the electronic information that is accessed is outside the formal scholarly publication process." His article, "The Rapid Evolution of Scholarly Communication," http://haly.catchword.com/vl=2763117/cl=41/fm=dirpdf/nw=1/rpsv/cgi-bin/linker?reqidx=/catchword/alpsp/09531513/v15n1/s2/p7.idx&lkey=-1063284085&rkey=569392464&ini=isis presents some statistics on usage of print and electronic information and discusses some preliminary evidence about the changing patterns of usage.

Bad Economy Is Good News for Large Information Companies

Large information companies are using the current economic slowdown to their advantage.  Executives from such giants as Reed Elsevier, Thomson, and Wolters Kluwer report that they are maintaining, and even increasing, their investments in sales and product development -- rather than cutting back as their smaller competitors are doing.  

Stepped up sales and marketing activities are aimed at penetrating new areas within existing corporate accounts.  The goal: to replace niche competitors by offering one-stop shopping for information services.  This appeals to customers who often consolidate their vendor relationships in bad times.  

The big players are reorganizing their sales forces so that they can cross-sell their products more easily.  These organizations are moving away from separate, product-focused sales forces into consolidated sales groups aligned with specific markets.  These new structures often preserve the product specialists, but put them under the command and coordination of an overall account manager.  

In a world where cash is king, these information giants are using their financial resources to make acquisitions.  The drop in valuations has helped them scoop up companies at relatively reasonable prices.  "By the way, we're not talking about dot-com companies.  Rather, we're talking about solid companies with significant revenues -- but without the necessary cash and size to compete with the giants over the long run." (PKaufman Editorial Note: recent economic analyses done by Dr. Mark McCabe at Georgia Tech demonstrate that when one large journal publisher purchases another, prices of the acquired journals rise.) Greenhouse Associates, January 2002. www.greenhousegrows.com/id49.htm

ARE BEST SELLERS THE MOST FREQUENTLY USED PUBLIC LIBRARY ITEMS?

Not in the UK, where Public Lending Right statistics report on the top 100 authors whose books are found on the shelves of the UK’s libraries. The PLR top 100 bears almost no relation to the year’s bestsellers list. The only adult novelist to appear on both the paperback best-selling top 10 and the PLR list is Danielle Steel. The discrepancy confirms that book buyers and book borrowers are separated by gaps of age and preference. "The Guardian," which reported this story, estimates that the book-borrowing taste lags about 20 years behind its book-buying equivalent. In terms of broad genres, the book-borrowing list tends towards crime and children’s books. The Guardian finds the PLR list a "manifestation of genuinely popular culture. The works of perhaps 70 per cent of the writers here are never advertised, much less reviewed, in newspapers. They get borrowed not because huge marketing budgets are lavished on them but because people pick them off the shelves, browse through their contents and decide they want to read them." Read the story at http://books.guardian.co.uk/news/articles/0,6109,642949,00.html

COPYRIGHT AND COPYWRONG. NOW COPYLEFT?

The New Scientist has published an article under a new license agreement called a "copyleft." That means that readers are free to copy and rework the article as long as they abide by certain terms and conditions. Read more about it at www.newscientist.com/hottopics/copyleft/

CIVIL LIBERTIES GROUP CHARGES COPYRIGHT LAW IS INCONSTITUTIONAL

Led by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a handful of groups filed an amicus brief in the government’s case against Elcomsoft. Elcomsoft is being prosecuted under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) for publishing software capable of circumventing security features built into Adobe eBooks. This is the case popularly associated with Dmitri Sklyarov, who was detained by US authorities after speaking at a security conference in Nevada last year (see previous issues of this newsletter for more information). EFF contends that the DMCA is being used to replace the copyright bargain. Documents related to the case can be found at www.eff.org/Cases/US_v_Sklyarov

PRINCETON'S FELTEN, EFF DROP CASE AGAINST RIAA

Princeton professor Edward Felten and his research team, backed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), have decided not to appeal a New Jersey Federal Court's dismissal of his lawsuit against the Recording Industry Association of America. The recording industry had reportedly threatened the researchers under the Digital

Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) for their planned release of a research paper describing the defects in the proposed Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI) lock-down schemes for audio CDs. The original threats led the researchers to withdraw the paper from a planned conference. Felten's suit claimed that such threats would have a chilling effect on research, but the Court ruled to toss the case since there were no actual damages. The library community has been closely monitoring the litigation.

In tossing the case, however, the government stated in documents filed with the court that "scientists attempting to study access control technologies" are not subject to the DMCA. "Although we would have preferred an enforceable court ruling," said Felten, "our research team decided to take the government and industry at their word that they will never again threaten publishers of scientific research that expose vulnerabilities in security systems for copyrighted works." But while the case is now history, its impact may still be felt. In his recent editorial suggesting a rewriting of the DMCA, Virginian Congressman Rick Boucher singled out the Felten litigation as an example of the DMCA's excesses (See LJ Academic Newswire 2/5/02). EFF legal director Cindy Cohn said that the group would keep sharp watch over the behavior of copyright holders like the RIAA in the future. "The statements by the government and the recording industry indicate that they now recognize they can't use the DMCA to squelch science," said Cohn. "Should they backslide, EFF will be there." (LJ Academic News Wire, February 7, 2002)

WATCH FOR A SPECIAL ISSUE NEXT WEEK ON A NEW INITIATIVE TO EXPAND OPEN ACCESS TO SCHOLARLY LITERATURE

ISSUES IN SCHOLARLY COMMUNICATIONS welcomes your comments and suggestions. Please send them to me at ptk@uiuc.edu.

 

Paula Kaufman

University Librarian