Open access threatens national security

One of the most amazing quotes I’ve seen in a while comes from Allan Adler, vice president for legal and government affairs of the Association of American Publishers, in an article about Open Access to Research.

[Mr. Alder] rejected the idea that taxpayer financed research should be open to the public, saying that it was in the national interest for it to be restricted to those who could pay subscription fees. “Remember — you’re talking about free online access to the world,” he said. “You are talking about making our competitive research available to foreign governments and corporations.”

There are just so many problems with this thinking that I don’t even know where to start. If the cost of making information available to the public who sponsored it is making it available to everyone on the planet, so be it. Let’s not use national security as an excuse to deprive the public of yet another right due them, let alone to further reinforce the problem of the rich getting richer.

And what are we afraid of, anyway? That our 5% of the population won’t be able to continue indefinitely in a lifestyle that consumes 25% of the planet’s resources? That someone else might improve their quality of life at the cost of our own?

2 thoughts on “Open access threatens national security”

  1. It’s amazing how greed can cloud logic sometimes. What I saw that was heartening, though, was the work being done by Oberlin to organize liberal arts schools to back the bill, and the 25 major research universities that have also written a letter in support of it. I think I’ll dash off a letter of support to my congressmen about it.

  2. Rollins College (small liberal arts college outside Orlando, FL where my husband, professor of economics, and I, tutor coordinator, have worked for twenty years) is apparently one of those supporting legislation to support open access.

    Reported in our online weekly newsletter today:

    “Rollins Students May Have More Access to Federal Research

    President Lewis Duncan, along with 52 other liberal arts college presidents, recently signed a letter in favor of the Federal Public Research Access Act. The act is an effort to decrease the cost of scholarly journal subscriptions by calling for free, public access to the published results of federal research. If the bill is passed, federal organizations that spend $100 million or more on research will be expected to provide open access to their results within six months of their original publication.

    Director of the Olin Library Jonathan Miller hopes that the Federal Public Research Act will help make peer-reviewed information accessible to anyone. Jonathan points out that the primary problem for academic institutions is cost, limiting the number of scholarly subscriptions to which students have access through college libraries. “Subscription costs have increased 10 percent every year, but library budgets do not,� Jonathan said.

    Jonathan believes that the open-access movement will permit more access to federally funded research. As a result, students at Rollins College will be able to obtain the latest information necessary to complete research assignments. With the Federal Public Research Access Act, Jonathan anticipates that librarians will be more likely to locate articles that students need without the restrictions of costly scholarly subscriptions. “If they’re going to be well-prepared, well-educated students, they’re going to need this information,â€? Jonathan said.” (Sept. 18, 2006 issue)

    Cost- and bottom-line driven advocacy. That works as support for me, along with the principle of it all. Open access. Equality of opportunity.

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