Elsevier's Latest Brilliant Idea: Adding Geoblocking To Open Access
from the how-about-no? dept
We’ve just written about a troubling move by Elsevier to create its own, watered-down version of Wikipedia in the field of science. If you are wondering what other plans it has for the academic world, here’s a post from Elsevier?s Vice President, Policy and Communications, Gemma Hersh, that offers some clues. She’s “responsible for developing and refreshing policies in areas related to open access, open data, text mining and others,” and in “Working towards a transition to open access“, Hersh meditates upon the two main kinds of open access, “gold” and “green”. She observes:
While gold open access offers immediate access to the final published article, the trade-off is cost. For those that can’t or don’t wish to pay the article publishing charge (APC) for gold open access, green open access — making a version of the subscription article widely available after a time delay or embargo period — remains a viable alternative to enabling widespread public access.
She has a suggestion for how the transition from green open access to gold open access might be effected:
Europe is a region where a transition to fully gold open access is likely to be most cost-neutral and, perhaps for this reason, where gold OA currently has the highest policy focus. This is in stark contrast to other research-intensive countries such as the US, China and Japan, which on the whole have pursued the subscription/green open access path. Therefore one possible first step for Europe to explore would be to enable European articles to be available gold open access within Europe and green open access outside of Europe.
Blithely ignoring the technical impossibility of enforcing an online geographical gold/green border, Hersh is proposing to add all the horrors of geoblocking — a long-standing blight on the video world — to open access. But gold open access papers that aren’t fully accessible outside Europe simply aren’t open access at all. The whole point of open access is that it makes academic work freely available to everyone, everywhere, without restriction — unlike today, where only the privileged few can afford wide access to research that is often paid for by the public.
It’s hard to know why Elsevier is putting forward an idea that is self-evidently preposterous. Perhaps it now feels it has such a stranglehold on the entire academic knowledge production process that it doesn’t even need to hide its contempt for open access and those who support it.