Wiley Interscience

… may sodomise themselves with spiky reindeer antlers. I am paying their exorbitant charges for article reprints: $34.44 with VAT; and each one comes with the following boilerplate: %(loony)IMPORTANT: You now have 24-hour access to this content. Access to this article will expire 24 hours after receipt of this confirmation screen. You may only view this content during this 24 hour period.%

Is there really anywhere a lawyer who believes that this kind of licence is enforceable – is there anyone anywhere who thinks it is morally defensible? Glyn Moody twitters “roll on open access” but I don’t want to abolish the market here entirely. Someone has to pay for the work that scholarly journals do. But I do want to regulate it and when I am dictator of the universe the directors of Wiley will find themselves breaking rocks next to the directors of HBOS.

In the meantime, I save the PDFs onto my hard disk and soon I will make copies on the laptop too. Of course, if I were better organised, I could have simply asked the authors to email me the things. What would the legal position be then, I wonder?

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10 Responses to Wiley Interscience

  1. Rupert says:

    “Someone has to pay for the work that scholarly journals do”.

    Do you know the profit margin on those? I have good reason to believe that they are somewhere north of 90 percent. I also seem to remember (I think from Ben Goldacre’s blog) that UCL pays six million pounds a year for its electronic journals.

    It really is beyond iniquitous.


  2. Edmund says:

    It’s certainly the case for APS journals (Applied Phys Letters, the Physical Review family) that all authors have the right to publish the pdf on their own website. This is included in the copyright agreement you have to sign to submit your paper.

    APS also offers “author select”: for an extra 2000USD, you can have the paper be open access on their site.

    An idea: could you go to the British Library and download them from there? I assume journals have to provide the BL with paper copies, so they might have electronic access (or a university library, I suppose).

  3. Glyn Moody says:

    The great thing about open access is that’s not trying to destroy anybody or anything: it’s just trying to change the business model of publishers so that everyone has digital access to publicly-funded research.

    Scholarly journals can still exist, because they are paid for by the institutions of academics who publish in them (although payment is waived for those in developing countries etc.).

    It’s a bit like open source: even though IBM gives away scads of free software, it’s still making milions, maybe billions now, from associated services that bigger companies pay. IBM’s new business model, and its direct support for open source, means that everyone else can simply download the stuff for free.

    Best intro to all this is from Mr Open Source, Peter Suber: http://is.gd/jA9l.

  4. Academic journals now routinely require transfer of copyright to the journal. This seems like theft to me (since, after all, I don’t get paid except in copies &/or reprints), but ‘publish or perish’ puts enormous pressure on the poor scholar to publish.

  5. H. E. Baber says:

    Holy cow, I always wondered who actually paid these fees for journal articles. Most consumers, who are academics, get free access through databases to which university libraries subscribe. In addition, most articles are available somewhere on the internet, many at authors’ websites. I’ve never paid for a journal article and haven’t read a journal in hardcopy at my university library for years–and I read LOTS of journal articles.

    Even journals that demand authors sign over copyright (or pay big fees to keep them open access) allow authors to put copies up to their own websites–which I, and many of us do. Tenured faculty, who can withhold articles without perishing, put pressure on journals for this and some universities in the US at least have a policy of requiring faculty to make some version of their published articles open access.

    Let me know if you want help with access.

  6. Don Marti says:

    Not only do the journal companies not pay the authors, their editorial boards also serve without pay. College students, wonder why the library budget that you pay for is going up? Because some of your professors are coming in to work, paid by the university, on editing something that your own institution won’t have access to.

    Stop H.R. 801: http://zgp.org/~dmarti/letters/conyers-corporate-welfare/

  7. H. E. Baber says:

    Public access to the research we pay for isn’t just fair to taxpayers. As a high school science fair participant, I relied on paper copies of journals at the Notre Dame libraries. But today, more and more journals are delivered electronically, keyed to an institutional ID. Not just low-budget researchers, but practicing physicians, patients, and their families are locked out of many NIH-funded results unless we ensure public access.

    I just hit the link above and it’s unclear what the complaint is. (1) Academic libraries virtually always subscribe to journals in hard copy as well as providing electronic access. (2) If you have corporeal access to the library typically you can get electronic access to articles at the terminals in the library. (3) Your professors are not getting paid extra for coming in to do research or edit. Library costs are driven up by the high cost of journal subscriptions, which journals impose to cover their chief costs–paper, production and postage. Copy editors get paid, but professors don’t get paid either for writing or refereeing articles.

  8. Don Marti says:

    How is a $10,000 journal “paper, production, and postage?” Don’t forget profit — scientific publishing is lucrative because they don’t pay for the content, taxpayers and students do. Journals are charging libraries for the reputations of the members of the editorial board, which those editorial board members are letting the proprietary journal borrow.

    Research and publishing is part of a professor’s job description.

    A professor working on a non-OA journal is like one who comes in and pilfers office supplies, only to give them away to the distributor that supplies the university.

  9. Jesse says:

    I would like to second that Wiley Interscience should engage in reindeer antler fun. I do not understand why publicly funded research is being locked up. If they want a monopoly on the research, then let them fund it.

    And they must recover the costs of paper and copying? Then let the paper copies cover that cost. What is one way to reduce said costs? Move more information online. I call BS on that point. It is high time for Wiley’s journals to start ending up on the Pirate Bay.

    I don’t understand why the smartest minds of our world have fallen victim to such a bad business set up. How is locking up research an efficient way to carry on subsequent research?

  10. H. E. Baber says:

    Commercial firms like Wiley and Springer have captured lots of academic journals and have of course driven up costs far beyond costs of hardcopy production and postage because they’re for-profit enterprises. Here’s a nice article on the “serials crisis” in academic libraries: http://southernlibrarianship.icaap.org/content/v09n03/mcguigan_g01.html

    This is of course inefficient and unsustainable: the market just hasn’t sorted things out yet. But that’s happening because academics are putting articles they publish in these journals online, and publishers have recognized that they can’t stop it. Springer, for example, charges authors $3000 [sic!] to make their articles open access at journal sites it maintains, but allows authors who don’t pay to put them up at their own sites.

    What are they playing at? Most authors put up articles at their own sites and most readers know where to find them for free. When everyone puts up their articles themselves and everyone knows where to find everything for free, the game will be up. IMHO these firms are just trying to get all the money they can before the whole system collapses. And the collapse is in process.

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