Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Patrologist on how academic entities and companies de-public domain ancient documents and how closed access peer review "is run for the profit of publishers"

http://thepatrologist.com/2014/11/10/copyright-critical-editions-and-ancient-texts/
...
It’s critical editions that are the sticking point. If I read 5 manuscripts and then decide which variants to include in an edition, the current default hypothesis is that I have somehow acquired a copyright over this work. This is the practice of various monopolising bodies, whom you know well, and the overpriced and underutilised editions of ancient works they release. This is, in my view, a fairly insidious example of ‘enclosing’ the public domain. Of taking what belongs to all, and putting a fence around it and re-privatising it.

I also suspect that if put to the test, it might well fail in court. Because while there is certainly work in assembling a critical edition, and more than that, there is skilled and detailed work, there is no creative work. Nothing is added to the work, nothing remixed, nothing generated. There is no new work done. Under many countries’ copyright regimes this does not pass the standard tests for acquiring a copyright to a work. It’s about on the same level as organising word lists or printing phone books. Sheer volume of labour does not copyright make.

Which could be read as another way the academic culture of the United States or other Western post-industrial powers have continued an over-priced racket that pretends to educate more than it actually does?  It's ... possibly strongly implied taken together with this:

http://thepatrologist.com/2015/08/04/the-problem-with-closed-access-peer-review-academia/
... I would summarise Skinner’s concerns in the second post that in a democratised (and that’s probably not the right word) sphere, everyone feels the right to have an equal opinion, and it’s difficult to give expert opinions their due weight. The remedy is (and I’m not saying this is Skinner’s view), traditionally, to point to the process of peer-review. Publishing is the sifting and sorting process that lends publications their authoritative weight. It’s why academia is a closed shop, it’s what the PhD is for: proving you’re ready to take a seat at the secret-society of peers who know about such and such a field.
...
Peer-reviewed closed-access publishing is run for the profit of publishers, and it’s paid for by the unpaid labour of academics. Is rigorous peer-review a great thing? Undoubtedly. Ought it be the gate-keeper to the conversation? Probably not. We do live in a more democratised world, and although everyone probably would admit theoretically that the only guarantee that you’re reading something worthy of critical acceptance is to read it critically for yourself with the pre-requisite knowledge to evaluate it, we’re all lazy and would much rather see the imprimatur of authority and say, ‘good enough for them, good enough for me’. But the result of that is richer publishers, elitism in academia, and a circle of bias that diminishes the value of peer-review to zero guarantee of truth or quality.

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