Ivan’s private site

November 12, 2009

Pay to be free…

Filed under: Social aspects,Work Related — Ivan Herman @ 17:00

I may not be well informed, so this may be a known approach for some of you, but it is the first time I see this…

There has been a tension between (scientific) publishers and authors for a while on whether one is allowed to put one’s publication on the Web. When dealing with traditional publishers the author usually gives away his/her copyright and the papers are rarely available on the Web (which is a source of constant frustrations to readers). Fortunately, this is not always the case; for example, the proceedings of the World Wide Web conference series are published by ACM, but the papers are nevertheless available on the Web for free (thanks to IW3C2).

Well, a counter-proposal from a publisher is quite amazing. A Hungarian publisher, Akadémiai Kiadó, offers authors a deal, called the “Optional Open Article”: if you pay the nice sum of 900€, then the paper is also put onto an on line edition and is made freely available on the Web. (The fact that it is then freely available is clear in the agreement posted on the web site). Pay for your freedom. Isn’t this wonderful?

And, to make it clear: this is a very prestigious publisher in Hungary, is related to the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and, therefore, the prime publishers locally of Hungarian scientists…

I find it appalling.  But this may only be me.



  1. This is… disappointingly horrible at best. $1000? wth?

    Are there any ways around the usual copyright restriction? E.g. removing or slightly changing/rearranging parts of a publication so that the resulting work is not considered the same as the original, thus the copyright doesn’t apply to the resulting work? Obviously, I’m new to this also.

    Comment by izuzak — November 12, 2009 @ 18:27

  2. Academic publishers are dinosaurs, and their primary function now is to prevent, rather than foster and support, the dissemination of information. Regarding copyright, the US position is that the rights to an authored article rest with the author, unless they deliberately sign them away. However, the publisher of a journal may have rights over the actual page image of the articles they publish. So all you have to do is keep a version which is formatted slightly differently and you can put that in a website, or indeed embroider it into pillowcases and sell them, and the journal publisher cannot complain.

    If a publisher tries to get you sign away your rights to the original article, simply refuse to give it. In my experience they usually give in if you insist. All these parasitical organizations (Springer, North-Holland, ACM, etc. ) know that if authors were ever to become organized in an effort to preserve their rights, they would be bankrupt in a matter of months.

    Comment by Pat Hayes — November 13, 2009 @ 6:23

  3. I don’t think they are first, at least springer is doing it: http://www.springer.com/open+access/open+choice?SGWID=0-40359-0-0-0 and i guess some others too. If I recall correctly, this started a few years back when PLOS (public library of science) started http://www.plos.org/

    And I agree with Pat Hayes, these publisher are just parasitic pre-web organization who know they’d disappear as soon as authors would start organizing (look who’s paying and getting money in this business and compare it to who is adding value). So they are just playing inertia.

    Comment by florent — November 13, 2009 @ 10:04

  4. The author-pays model is also known as the Gold route to Open Access, compared to ‘Green’ access where the author makes the paper (or some version of it) available somewhere else ie not through the publisher. There are debates even within the open access movements as to the merits of the differnet approaches. Regarding copyright, this page aims to answer a number of questions regarding author’s rights and signing them away (or not): http://www.eprints.org/openaccess/self-faq/

    Comment by Monica Duke — November 13, 2009 @ 14:50

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