Open Access and its Role in the Development of Science and Technology

I am enjoying the new paper out of Trento (Italy) Law & Technology Group on the benefits of Open Access (OA) to publications and data and its role in scientific development:

OA’s main function is … the ability to subvert the power to control science’s governance and its future directions, a power that is more often found within the academic institutions rather than outside. By decentralising and opening-up not just the way in which scholarship is published but also the way in which it is assessed, OA removes the barriers that helped turn science into an intellectual oligopoly even before an economic one.

[Margoni, Caso, Ducato, Guarda & Moscon 2016]

While scientific publication is slowly moving to an open access model, patents have been there since well before the internet revolution.  It would be interesting to apply their model to the patent system retrospectively and consider

4 thoughts on “Open Access and its Role in the Development of Science and Technology

  1. Wading through a lot of high level academia abstractions with a paucity of facts or data here, one would never learn that copyrights on science or technology publications only protect copying of the form of expression, not the published science itself. Nor would one learn that patents rarely ever preclude non-commercial academic research on the patented subject matter.

    1. Paul,

      You have a lot buried in that comment, and as shocking as it may seem, I think we would be in agreement on a lot of it.

    2. The problem is that many people who need or want access to these articles can’t get it, except by paying more than $30 for EACH article. When you’re doing research in an area (such as nutrition, for instance), you could (and really should) read HUNDREDS of articles. That’s impossible under the current model. See the following, for instance:

      link to bigthink.com

      I’ve personally run into this, as I perform research into nutrition and associated areas all the times. Many times, I have to suffice with reading the Abstract (which is usually whitewashed and may say exactly the opposite of what the researchers actually found), as I don’t want to fork out $39 for an article that’s for my own personal research.

      Let’s say you want to research the biome and how it affects humans. You could (and should) easily read 100 research articles just to get a small understanding of the area. If even 1/10 of those are paywalled, you’ll be at $390 for what is really a minimal amount of knowledge.

      1. PatentBob – one key to your statement is: access.

        Or rather, the allowance (and sometimes built-in “feature” that locks out access.

        Note that the actual right of copyright has NOTHING to do with preventing access.

        This is (at least in significant part) the notion that what is protected is NOT protected from all “copying” – in the first instance.

        News and critical commentary, among other Fair Uses requires access in the first instance.

        The bigger “problem” that you have is that it is no longer the expression that is being protected, but rather a business model built on pay-for-access.

        Congress should “break” (literally and figuratively) ALL such business models in the copyright realm.

        Of course, another problem with that is the fact of the matter that “access” means (by and large – especially if you are smart enough – or if any one person is smart enough) that any and all protection from digital copying is gone.**

        Digital goods in the copyright realm (ask Big Music and Big Movies) still labor under seemingly archaic business models.

        In part, because enforcement IS a very real issue.

        The well-bemoaned “shove an ad in your face” is merely one attempt at a different business model – but one that in the end still relies more on “access” being protected more so (and much much more so) than “expression” being protected.

        **And yes, despite the naysayers, this does have a very real impact with
        3Ddigital printing of actual goods.

        Sure, that technology is merely in its nascent stages right now – but much like (exactly like) the early personal computer “experts” who criticized the notion that people would even want a personal computer (and now most people have several, including ones on their arm and in their phones), the ABILITY to micro-produce anything that can be digitized will also make patent enforcement highly problematic.

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