Publishers versus libraries
February 16, 2013
A couple of years ago, Matt wrote about the conflict between authors and publishers. Yesterday, two offical statements about the FASTR bill showed us with devastating clarity that publishers are opposed to libraries, too.
FASTR, the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research act, wants to extend the NIH’s open-access policy to all other US Government departments with research budgets exceeding $100M, and to reduce the embargo period on new papers to six months, down from the current twelve.
I won’t insult the intelligence of long-time readers by explaining yet again why this would be a good thing for research, medicine, engineering, industry, education, and indeed everyone and everything except barrier-based publishers. Because for the purposes of this particular post it doesn’t matter what’s actually in the act.
All you need to know is in the two statements: one issued by the Association of American Publishers (AAP), and one from the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL). AAP is against the FASTR bill, and ACRL is for it. For our present purposes, it doesn’t matter what their various reasons are. All we need to know is that publishers want the opposite of what libraries want.
It’s time to abandon the comforting but laughable fiction that barrier-based publishers are our friends, our colleagues or our partners. They’re not. They’re our enemies. Hard words, but true ones. In the immortal words of Tom Holtz, “Sorry if that makes some people feel bad, but I’m not in the ‘make people feel good business’; I’m a scientist.”
“But Mike”, you say. “Not all the publishers that are members of the AAP agree with its stance.” That is good news, Fictional Interlocutor. I greatly look forward to seeing them break ranks, one by one, to repudiate the AAP’s antediluvian and anti-science stance. Bring it on, Good Guy Publishers. I will be delighted to give credit just as soon as some is due.
Update (later the same day)
Great to see this letter in support of FASTR signed by ten important organisations: The American Library Association, Association of Academic Health Sciences Libraries, Association of College & Research Libraries, Association of Research Libraries, Creative Commons, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Greater Western Library Alliance, Public Knowledge, Public Library of Science and SPARC.