yet another reason open source is the way to go

Barbara Fister makes a great point in her July 11 blogpost,

Nothing Personal: How Database Licenses Make Pirates of Us All:

personal use? What does that even mean in a scholarly context?”

She reports using JSTOR and other databases for her academic purposes. She writes books & blogs using the articles she finds on databases which require her to sign a statement that she will only use the articles for personal and non-commercial use. Sometimes these books and articles make a little money. *gasp*. Imagine the gall of making money with other people’s ideas (properly credited and non-plagiarized of course!)  Wait?  Isn’t that the POINT of academic research–to build off of earlier research?

The copyright system is so broken–this agreement is entirely useless in an academic context. It’s entirely useless when people want to share articles or information. Can I send an article to a friend? Not according to many databases.

Information may not want to be free, but we need it to loosen its chains. Many of the databases licenses are so restrictive that in fact the user is the one enslaved, not simply the information itself.

At the risk of sounding socialist, I think there has to be a model in which we can pay a tax on information that supports the content creators while allowing others to re-use information for their own purposes. Perhaps just on academic research information? After all, a lot of this research is funded by tax-supported universities, so there must be a way we can require such funding to provide information other academics can use freely. Until then students and researchers alike may be inadvertently breaking the database license agreements–which can have profound repercussions for universities.

More use of institutional repostiories can alleviate this problem if the repositories are open to the public.Or Lynch’s ideas.  For general intellectual property problems involving remixing and sampling others’ work, I likethe 5-dollar Friday idea.  Vouchers for supporting information creation! It’s a start anyway.