A year ago, we wrote about IEEE's somewhat ridiculous and aggressive policies
towards republishing research it publishes. Apparently, it's getting even worse. An anonymous reader sent over Matt Blaze's story about how IEEE has made their policies even more draconian by forbidding authors from sharing the "final" versions of their papers
anywhere on the web. Many academics post such papers to their own websites, or in some cases, to other aggregators or collections. This helps spread important knowledge and information -- which is the point of academia. But, as Blaze notes, IEEE and ACM -- who both should
know better -- are being quite aggressive in trying to hold back such information sharing, unless they get paid for it. This is a shame, and reflects poorly on two very important organizations in the tech world. Blaze has decided to protest these moves:
Enough is enough. A few years ago, I stopped renewing my ACM and IEEE memberships in protest, but that now seems an inadequate gesture. These once great organizations, which exist, remember, to promote the exchange and advancement of scientific knowledge, have taken a terribly wrong turn in putting their own profits over science. The directors and publication board members of societies that adopt such policies have allowed a tunnel vision of purpose to sell out the interests of their members. To hell with them.
So from now on, I'm adopting my own copyright policies. In a perfect world, I'd simply refuse to publish in IEEE or ACM venues, but that stance is complicated by my obligations to my student co-authors, who need a wide range of publishing options if they are to succeed in their budding careers. So instead, I will no longer serve as a program chair, program committee member, editorial board member, referee or reviewer for any conference or journal that does not make its papers freely available on the web or at least allow authors to do so themselves.
It would certainly be nice if others followed his lead.