With the open access protests (e.g. Elsevier boycott) reaching their climax in the past weeks, OA has been condemned to ultimate failure in Europe with the European Commission putting a final and unequivocal stop to it. In analogy to the RWA (Research Works Act) in the USA, according to which scholarly publishers like Elsevier hoped to claw back total ownership of federally funded research, the European Union has started a hot debate on banning OA to scientific literature for the public. Their argumentation is mainly based on the idea to transfer the revenues made by the publishing industry into funds accessible for the academic world and only the academic world. Thus a private scientific journal publishing company could not keep all the money earned through their subscription fees, but would have to pay a third of its income to the European Union. With all this new influx of money, the EU would announce scholarships for talented academics – paying their research expenses and projects. This would render public access to journals a distant dream – mainly academics would be able to access journals through their standing university or library subscriptions (it’s not like anybody else is paying the exorbitant per article fees).
These days, the news are full of acronyms dealing with various legislation concerning copyright. The problematic of copyright laws has long since left the geeky closet of the software community or the posh one of the poor and abused music industry. The acronyms in our title, familiar to most, are proof enough of their mainstream status. It is a central issue for the new generation, and everybody has an opinion on it. In this post, I would like to put the open access movement into that context, to see how it relates to the general public outcry regarding copyright legislation. Are these things connected? If yes, how?