Daily Archives: February 8, 2009

Open Access Under Threat

The publishing industry is dangerous. Why? Because it is big and rich, but it is also in danger. The publishing industry, like the music industry, and like the commercial proprietary software industry, faces structural reorganization of the markets served and uncertainty in the flow of cash into coffers. So we should not be surprised when we see the industry buying off members of congress to get legislation passed that protects the industry from change that is coming. Change the industry does not want to see.

The most recent event is the reintroduction of a bill in congress that will abrogate the current NIH public access policy. This has been tried before and it is being tried again. From Michael Eisen’s blog:

John Conyers (D-MI) has reintroduced his publisher-backed “Fair Copyright Act” which would effectively end the NIH Public Access Policy by eliminating the government’s right to impose conditions on grants that would give the government the right to distribute works arising from federally funded research.

As many have pointed out, the whole premise of the bill is absurd. Publishers are arguing that the NIH has taken their copyright. But, of course, if that were true, they would already have protection under federal copyright law, and they would be suing the government. Instead, they are pushing legislation that would actually remove the governments right to distribute work it funds, thereby clearly demonstrating that they believe the government’s action is perfectly legal under copyright law.

Please go to Michael’s blog and read the entire entry. Also, the Open Access News Blog has a summary of press and bloggers reactions to this bill. Here.

Turtles in the Ancient Arctic

Turtles Island-Hopped Their Way Across a Warm Arctic

Sometime about 90 million years ago, Asian turtles hit the road for North America. Although researchers thought that these reptiles had crawled around the globe via Russia and Alaska, new findings suggest that they may have taken a shortcut–over a series of islands now submerged under the Arctic Sea.

The conclusions are based on an unusual turtle fossil…


African ‘Pgymy’ Shared Stature Allele

This is an oversimplification, but it is exactly what the archaeology and physical anthropology had previously told us. Except the physy and archy data give us more detail. But, important and interesting nonetheless:

Short people known as pygmies are scattered across equatorial Africa, where they speak various languages, inhabit different types of forests, and hunt and gather food in diverse ways. Despite their cultural variety, a new study shows that the pygmies of Western Central Africa descended from an ancestral population that survived intact until 2800 years ago when farmers invaded the pygmies’ territory and split them apart….

rest of the story here

Microsoft = Evil

From slashdot:

“Microsoft is advertising for a new director of open source strategy, but this one has a specific purpose: fight the Linux desktop. ‘The Windows Competitive Strategy team is looking for a strong team member to lead Microsoft’s global desktop competitive strategy as it relates to open source competitors.’ For a variety of reasons, this move is almost certainly targeted at Ubuntu Linux’s desktop success. With the Mac, not Linux, apparently eating into Microsoft’s Windows market share, what is it about desktop Linux, and specifically Ubuntu, that has Microsoft spooked?”

figures. details and links here.