May 08, 2006

Content -- TV & Scholarly Articles

Two seemingly-unrelated articles in the New York Times in the last two days.

The first, Digital Domain: Someone Has to Pay for TV. But Who? And How?, from the Sunday Times (May 7), talks about technology that prohibits TV viewers from skipping through commercials. It's more of a personal essay than a description (pro or con) of the technology, and it raises the issue of who pays for TV. Randall Stross asserts that if he were "... violating an implicit contract that ... exists between broadcaster and viewer of ad-supported television, I take comfort in the knowledge that no such contract exists." But that is the implied contract, isn't it?

Over at the publishing debate, where there is a contract (ie, sale) of journals to permit access to scholarly articles, today's Times reports on the "Federal Research Public Access Act (ARL link) of 2006, proposed last week by Senators Joseph I. Lieberman, Democrat of Connecticut, and John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, [which] would require 11 government agencies to publish online any articles that contained research financed with federal grants. If enacted, the measure would require that the articles be accessible online without charge within six months of their initial publication in a scholarly journal."

Publishers are furious, of course, much as the television companies dislike DVRs that permit ad-skipping. A publisher whines that if journal articles were available on the free web, there would be no way of telling how many people read an article, warning that "readership may be halved". I bet the folks running Institutional Repositories would have a different response; from what I can tell, having articles available on the free web actually *increases* their usage.

Interesting issues. I'm voting against the first and for the second.

No comments: