Gavia Libraria

Research Works Act: fighting the last war

Open access delenda est, it seems; the Association of American Publishers has endorsed scorched-earth, salt-sowing warfare against it in the form of the just-introduced Research Works Act.

Darrell Issa and his office should be ashamed of themselves, not least because they should know better than to tamely accept any content industry stalwart’s word on anything; did they learn nothing from opposing SOPA? Nonetheless. The war is on, this useless, mendacious, backward-looking war.

Toll-access publishers: You will lose this. Just so you know. Libraries and SPARC wholly aside (and how many times have we trounced you by now?), the tides of faculty and taxpayer sentiment are not in your favor, as you’d know if you’d poked your noses out of your bubble every now and again over the last year.

You will also lose this because you’re fighting the last war, the war against the Internet. The Internet is winning, though slowly; the black hole the PRISM Coalition fell into, PLoS and its imitators, PubMedCentral and its analogues, all demonstrate that.

If you had the brains nature gave a loon, you’d fight the next war instead: forcing the feds to figure out how to cover first-copy publishing costs in an open-access environment. No mistake, that’s a tough war, but it’s the right war.

The Loon knows why you’re fighting the last war instead of the next one: you’re market incumbents, you don’t have the infrastructure or the determination to reduce first-copy costs to the level new market entrants have.

Seriously, though. This is how you think you’ll fix that? Seriously?

Make no mistake, the Loon does not advocate plunging heads into the sand ostrich-style; we will have to fight RWA and fight it hard, and the Loon is prepared to do that. She just sorrows at the hideous waste of this unnecessary wrangling.

Here, toll-access publishers, have a song: