We reported, 150 or 200 years ago, on the activism of poor countries, who lobbied oligopolist publishing cartels for free or low-cost access to electronic scientific journals. The problem is the cavalier, avaricious, and rapacious opportunism of publishers, who have used the sudden shift from paper to electronic publishing to shackle subscribers into vastly overpriced journal subscriptions that must be kept current if you want access to any online article, past or present. Worse, paper journals’ subscription rates increased, too, essentially eliminating the option of subscribing to paper journals, which you could then keep forever.
For reasons poorly understood, leading oligopolist publishing cartels have actually agreed to free and subsidized access to journals for poor countries:
- Free access to medical journals to be given to poor countries: “The initiative is the publishing world's counterpart to the drug industry's newfound commitment to make medicines for AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis more widely available to Third World countries. The democratization of medical information, however, is likely to be far easier and cheaper than the democratization of pharmaceutical therapy”
- Medical journals to fill health void online: “Reed Elsevier, the U.S. Harcourt Worldwide STM Group, American health care publisher Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Germany's Springer Verlag, John Wiley & Sons of the United States, and Britain's Oxford-based Blackwell Sciences Ltd. will work with the British Medical Journal and the Open Society Institute of the George Soros foundation network on the project”
- Medical journals give free access to poor: “Derk Haank, chairman of Elsevier Science, said it would cost his company about $1m to set up the free access”
- WHO and top publishers announce breakthrough on developing countries' access to leading biomedical journals: “The outcome is a tiered-pricing model developed by the publishers that will make nearly 1000 of the 1240 top international biomedical journals available to institutions in the 100 poorest countries free of charge or at significantly reduced rates”
So hey, not bad.
Posted on 2001-09-20