Open access redux

 

Le carnet de Tracés entend, dans les prochaines semaines, relayer les débats sur l’accès libre (open access) aux productions scientifiques qui animent la communauté universitaire et politique. Nous exprimerons également le point de vue et les expériences de la revue Tracés, qui pourront, nous l’espérons, alimenter les discussions sur le financement des revues en France et en Europe.

Aujourd’hui, nous reproduisons (ci-dessous), comme hommage à Aaron Swartz, son texte Guerilla Open Access Manifesto.

(n.b: Framablog en propose une traduction française)

Signalons également, parmi d’autres, un point de vue de Timothy Burke, sur l’affaire qui a opposé A.Swartz à Jstor.

Enfin, une étude allemande récente, sur laquelle nous reviendrons, qui produit une des premières analyses économiques du passage à l’open access et qui conclut sur le fait que, si les universités et pouvoirs publics se coordonnent sur un financement commun de l’open access, les bénéfices (économiques) sont largement supérieurs aux coûts pour la société.

Guerilla Open Access Manifesto 

Information is power. But like all power, there are those who want to keep it for 
themselves. The world's entire scientific and cultural heritage, published over 
centuries in books and journals, is increasingly being digitized and locked up by 
a handful of private corporations. Want to read the papers featuring the most 
famous results of the sciences? You'll need to send enormous amounts to publishers 
like Reed Elsevier. 

There are those struggling to change this. The Open Access Movement has fought 
valiantly to ensure that scientists do not sign their copyrights away but instead 
ensure their work is published on the Internet, under terms that allow anyone 
to access it. But even under the best scenarios, their work will only apply to 
things published in the future. Everything up until now will have been lost. 

That is too high a price to pay. Forcing academics to pay money to read the work 
of their colleagues? Scanning entire libraries but only allowing the folks at 
Google to read them? Providing scientific articles to those at elite universities 
in the First World, but not to children in the Global South? It's outrageous and 
unacceptable. 

"I agree," many say, "but what can we do? The companies hold the copyrights, they 
make enormous amounts of money by charging for access, and it's perfectly legal — 
there's nothing we can do to stop them." But there is something we can, something 
that's already being done: we can fight back. 

Those with access to these resources — students, librarians, scientists — you have 
been given a privilege. You get to feed at this banquet of knowledge while the rest
of the world is locked out. But you need not — indeed, morally, you cannot — keep 
this privilege for yourselves. You have a duty to share it with the world. And you 
have: trading passwords with colleagues, filling download requests for friends. 

Meanwhile, those who have been locked out are not standing idly by. You have been 
sneaking through holes and climbing over fences, liberating the information locked 
up by the publishers and sharing them with your friends. 

But all of this action goes on in the dark, hidden underground. It's called stealing
or piracy, as if sharing a wealth of knowledge were the moral equivalent of 
plundering a ship and murdering its crew. But sharing isn't immoral — it's a moral 
imperative. Only those blinded by greed would refuse to let a friend make a copy. 

Large corporations, of course, are blinded by greed. The laws under which they 
operate require it — their shareholders would revolt at anything less. 
And the politicians they have bought off back them, passing laws giving them
the exclusive power to decide who can make copies. 

There is no justice in following unjust laws. It's time to come into the light and, 
in the grand tradition of civil disobedience, declare our opposition to this private 
theft of public culture. 

We need to take information, wherever it is stored, make our copies and share them 
with the world. We need to take stuff that's out of copyright and add it to the archive.
We need to buy secret databases and put them on the Web. We need to download scientific 
journals and upload them to file sharing networks. We need to fight for Guerilla Open 
Access. 

With enough of us, around the world, we'll not just send a strong message opposing the 
privatization of knowledge — we'll make it a thing of the past. Will you join us? 

Aaron Swartz 

July 2008, Eremo, Italy

 

 


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