06 December 2007

Behold! The New Anti-Open Access FUD

As I've noted before, I'm something of a connoisseur of FUD, and I really like coming across new examples. Here's one, directed at the burgeoning open access movement, which wants to make publicly-paid for scientific papers freely available (and others, too):

'The idea of public access to research information is a little bit specious,' added Robert Parker, managing director of RSC publishing. 'The UK government will be funding the London Olympics in 2012, but that doesn't mean that everybody can have free tickets - there is a big difference between funding something and having it be freely available.'

Nice sleight of hand there, Robbie. Except that the UK government is funding the Olympics in the (probably mistaken) belief that everyone will benefit from the knock-on effects on the economy, world prestige, blah-blah-blah: so there *is* an expectation of getting something in return for the public funds. And of course no one expects free seats - because there is a finite number of them - whereas the larger benefits, if they materialise, can be shared.

Open access is different because taxpayers can benefit from it directly. Most importantly, though, open access is digital in nature, and therefore can be copied and distributed for effectively zero cost - it is non-scarce and non-rivalrous. There is no way of giving away seats at the Olympics for zero cost, because they are scarce, rivalrous resources. The economics are completely different, as any managing director should understand. (Via Peter Murray-Rust.)


Bill Hooker said...

Yeah, that one's a gem. The FUDsters are really scraping the bottom of the barrel now. That pitbull guy had some ideas that (while no more honest) might actually have been hard for OA proponents to fight, but the PR disaster means those ideas are radioactive, so they're reduced to second-rate crap like this "free seats" analogy.

Colour me gleeful.

Glyn Moody said...

Yes, the logic of this one was so desperate it was literally funny.