Open access is taking over, but academic institutions are paying as much money as ever: what happened?

The good news is that open access publishing, which allows anyone to read academic papers without needing a subscription, is taking over. The bad news is that academic publishers have managed to subvert it, so the victory is proving hollow. That’s confirmed by a new preprint from an international group of researchers: Since the early …

Best-selling organic chemistry textbook to be freely available, supported by enlightened patronage

It’s well known that textbook prices are generally high. That’s in part because academic publishers effectively have a monopoly when it comes to standard texts. Very often, there are texts that students simply must have as part of their course, which means they will pay even exorbitant prices. One such book was John McMurry’s Organic …

Imagine a world where amazing fanfic was the norm, not the exception: only copyright stands in the way

On the Pocket site, there’s a fascinating story about fanfic – fan fiction – which Wikipedia defines as “fictional writing written in an amateur capacity by fans, unauthorized by [the original work’s creator or publisher], but based on an existing work of fiction. The author uses copyrighted characters, settings, or other intellectual properties from the …

Educational publisher Pearson finds a way to make NFTs even worse

Back in April, Walled Culture noted that non-fungible tokens (NFTs) offer very little benefit for creators, despite the grand claims made for them.  Since then, the once trendy sector is collapsing, with both NFTs and cryptocurrencies revealing themselves to be little more than scams and pyramid schemes.  But just when you might have hoped that …

The mighty Elsevier academic octopus adds another tentacle

Last year, Walled Culture noted that the academic publisher Elsevier enjoys an astonishing profit margin of 30-40%. Those profits, built on the free labour of academics writing about research that has been largely paid for with public money, has allowed Elsevier to go on a spending spree, buying up companies that complement and extend its …

If they could, publishers would abolish libraries; here’s what they are doing instead

It is often said that if public libraries did not exist, modern publishers would never allow them to be set up, on the grounds that “clearly” every book loaned out was a sale lost. Fortunately, at the time that public libraries were created in various countries, publishers took a more enlightened view. Unfortunately, today’s publishers …

Enjoy digital ownership and public libraries while you can: they may disappear soon…

Michael E. Karpeles, Program Lead on OpenLibrary.org at the Internet Archive, spotted an interesting blog post by Michael Kozlowski, the editor-in-chief of Good e-Reader. It concerns Amazon and its audiobook division, Audible: Amazon owned Audible ceased selling individual audiobooks through their Android app from Google Play a couple of weeks ago. This will prevent anyone …

Good news: Taiwan creates a new fair use of copyright material; bad news: it’s tiny

Too often we assume that copyright is something that only concerns Western nations like the US and EU. But it’s important to remember that copyright has been exported all around the world. Moreover, when Western nations make copyright worse, they then try to convince other countries to adopt the same bad ideas, for example through …

Creators everywhere are struggling, copyright is failing them: time to find something better

The Guardian has an interesting feature looking at how Australian artists from working-class backgrounds face greater obstacles to succeeding than those from other social classes do. It contains some useful statistics about how much creators in that country earn: In 2017, in the last major study done on the issue, the Australia Council found that …

During the Covid pandemic, some publishers didn’t just fail libraries, they exploited them

Back in December last year, a guest post on Walled Culture by Yohanna Anderson related how publishers initially offered universities free access to ebook collections when it became clear that the Covid pandemic would mean libraries would not be able to open for the foreseeable future. It seemed a generous move on the publishers’ part. …

Why moving to diamond open access will not only save money, but also help to protect privacy

Back in September last year, Walled Culture mentioned the consistently high profit margins of 30-40% enjoyed by the academic publisher Elsevier. That’s problematic because these profits flow from the work of academics largely paid for by the taxpayer, with additional refereeing and editorial work generally carried out for free by other academics. So Elsevier gains …

Top EU court hands down judgment on upload filters that is as clear as mud

Walled Culture has just written about the great difficulty national governments are having in transposing the EU Copyright Directive into local law. That’s largely because of the badly-drafted and contradictory Article 17. It effectively calls for upload filters, which have obvious problems for freedom of expression because of the impossibility of crafting algorithms that encapsulate …

The EU Copyright Directive is so bad it’s proving really hard to transpose into decent national laws

Walled Culture has written numerous posts about the EU Copyright Directive, because it contains two extremely harmful ideas. The first is the “snippet tax“, an attempt by some press publishers to make sites like Google pay for the privilege of displaying and linking to newspaper publishers’ material – an assault on the Web’s underlying hyperlink …

Time for the copyright world to stop attacking the Internet’s infrastructure

Despite the impossibility of stopping people making copies of digital material, the copyright industry continues to launch ever-more extreme legal actions against outside parties in a desperate attempt to do just that. For example, back in October, this blog reported on an attempt to force a CDN – content delivery network – to act as …

Will analogue academic textbooks be the next to move to the Spotify digital licensing model?

Last December, a post noted that Spotify is a rising digital giant, despite its lack of profitability. As well as representing a concentration of power – something seen across the online world – Spotify is a good example of another important trend that the shift from analogue to digital has made possible: the death of …

The ratchet: even demonstrably ineffectual and unnecessary copyright laws are never repealed

The European Union is working on a number of important new digital laws. These includes the Digital Services Act, the Digital Markets Act, and the Data Act. A new press release about the last of these contains the following section: the Data Act reviews certain aspects of the Database Directive, which was created in the …