Open Access Threatened by Elsevier Backed Legislation

January 3, 2012

Academic publishing, specifically in the fields of science and math, is a big money industry. The whole system hinges on containing the flow of information, a task that grows increasingly difficult with the demand for free access to information. Free access is fueled by the internet and social media, with these influences creating a new generation of young people who assume and demand that information be free. is an open access archive for academic literature devoted to math and science. It and other open access portals are being threatened by potential legislation. (Open access is a term referring to quality information sources that are not protected by a subscription.) The Quantum Pontiff tells us more in, “Could Elsevier Shut Down”

The blogger reports:

They (Elsevier) haven’t yet, but they are supporting SOPA, a bill that attempts to roll back Web 2.0 by making it easy to shut down entire sites like Wikipedia and Craigslist if they contain any user-submitted infringing material.


Splash page of shows the seal of Cornell University and the phrase “We gratefully acknowledge supporting institutions. See

Social media and copyright are inherently opposing concepts. User-submitted material, as it is referred to above, will almost always infringe upon copyright. In fact, very few submissions aside from the users own thoughts and words will not infringe upon copyright. If the legislators supporting SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) make good on all their promises, eventual showdowns with social media heavy hitters like Facebook or YouTube could occur.

American copyright was established by the founding fathers in our constitution to balance the protection of intellectual property with the ability to foster creativity and innovation. However, copyright has evolved in the modern era into a blanket protection policy, primarily serving corporations. Libraries and other institutions of learning champion the cause of open access, but even these civic organizations are threatened by corporate lobbyists in their constant quest to have copyright protection extended tighter and longer.

Original American copyright protected works for 14 years, with one optional renewal if the creator was still alive. Now, countless revisions later, copyright protection extends to the life of the author plus 70 years for individuals, and 120 years past origination for corporate authors. Legislation like SOPA is just one more step toward stifling creativity and controlling information for the sake of a profit.

In the case of academic literature, academics and librarians are moving toward open access journals and institutional repositories in an attempt to stop the information bottleneck of academic publishing.

Back to the Quantum Pontiff:

We can do our part to stop them by not publishing in, or refereeing for, their journals (the link describes other unethical Elsevier practices). Of course, this is easy to say in physics, harder in computer science, and a lot harder in fields like medicine. There is another concrete way to stand up for open access. The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy has requested comments on the question of public access to federally-funded scientific research.

If open access is cause of interest to you, let the White House hear your opinion. Tell them a librarian sent you, and that she did her research on Wikipedia.

Emily Rae Aldridge, MLS, January 3, 2012

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One Response to “Open Access Threatened by Elsevier Backed Legislation”

  1. Putting the nix on open access? (more about why HR 3699 sucks) | Savage Minds on January 11th, 2012 2:26 am

    […] was via this post (thanks to Paul Manning on FB).  Michael E. Smith over at Publishing Archaeology is on it with […]

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