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People are getting more and more fed up with parasitic scientific/academic publishers. This piece in the Guardian yesterday has a nice perspective (and generated quite a response): http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/aug/29/academic-publishers-murdoch-socialist

I wrote about ACM and IEEE's loathsome, regressive copyright policies earlier this year: http://www.crypto.com/blog/copywrongs/
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Steven Bellovin's profile photoSampo Syreeni's profile photoNaty Hoffman's profile photoDan Wallach's profile photo
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They definitely need killing. Though I think we should start with the kinds of Springer and Kluwer.
 
I know why many people are upset with the copyright policies. But it's very easy for the academics to change the dynamic. They already typeset the documents. They already circulate them from their own websites. No one is putting a gun to their heads and telling them to submit it to the old journals. Okay, maybe you could make the claim about the untenured. But the tenured have no excuse. Heck, many of them don't publish much anyways. :-)
 
+Peter Wayner: the issue isn't me publishing -- as you say, I'm tenured -- but my students. They very much need exposure in major venues. It's great if they publish at Usenix Security -- Usenix does support open access publishing -- but the IEEE and ACM security conferences are the other two big ones in the field. These conferences count -- just last week, one of my students told me that she was asked explicitly about papers in those venues. Indeed, +Matt Blaze made the same point in his blog post.
 
+Steven Bellovin This is why I don't call for a boycott on submitting to closed-access publications. It's a nice gesture if you can afford it, but the impact of any given person seems disproportionately low given the potentially high potential professional cost as long as those venues are regarded as among the "top" publications in a field. But there's something more effective (and less costly) that we can do instead.

I call on our community to refuse to volunteer as reviewers, PC members, editors, or editorial board members of closed-access publications, and to perform proportionately more service for those that support open-access. If enough respected members of a field do this, the prestige and power of the close-access holdouts will diminish (or they'll shift to open access). And even junior people can generally afford to be selective about who they review for.

And, of course, we should support professional organizations that have open-access policies (such as Usenix).
 
First, some news: The piece I wrote last year will be appearing, in shortened form, in October's CACM.

More broadly: ACM and IEEE can and will be reformed from within. We had a landslide vote at the IEEE Oakland business meeting to adopt the Usenix copyright policy. I won't be able to attend CCS due to a time conflict, but I'm hoping I can orchestrate a similar vote there. Also, I'm told that ACM SIGOPS (at SOSP) had a similar vote.

I have less expectation that Springer, Elsevier, etc. will survive after the revolution comes.
 
+Dan Wallach Dan, that's great. Can you please link to the piece you're talking about?
 
Nah, he can't; he had to sign over copyright to the ACM...
 
The trouble really is that once you get that certain reputationa balance where everybody's reputation is being channelled through a couple of prestigious, well-known outlets, you're nigh stuck. It's not so much about academic publishers having schemed their way onto monopoly profits. It's about the academic publishing model having birthed a natural monopoly or oligopoly, which one or a few publishers are naturally going to capture.

They then did that a long time ago, in a time when cheaper alternatives weren't available. Now we're stuck, or "locked in" because of the reputational network effects of the business. It doesn't really matter that you could technically publish even peer reviewed stuff on our own site. What matters is that it's on Ph. Rev A (or was it B now?).

Eventually that market structure is going to break, just as surely as fax machines stopped being relevant. The question just is, how long is it gonna take, how many legal landmines are going to stop the progress how efficiently, and then most of all, at which casualties.
 
+Dan Wallach "ACM and IEEE can and will be reformed from within" - I wish I shared your optimism. I've been trying for years (at least in the case of ACM) and have repeatedly run against the brick walls of entrenched interests.
 
Reform can come in many ways. Ultimately, if the people running one of the big conferences decide to leave, the only thing that ACM or IEEE would be left owning is the name of the conference and the back catalog.

There's no reason that, for example, IEEE Security & Privacy couldn't, perhaps, decide to abandon the IEEE and ask USENIX to manage its conference. Not that any such thing might be on the table.
 
Would be nice, though. These are tipping point kind of things and the heavy-weights know it. It might only take one to start a landslide, so they might not risk it.
 
I fear that the Powers That Be in some of these organizations have attitudes similar to that of, say, the RIAA and the MPAA. Those two, of course, want a new criminal to be created -- felony interference with a business model -- and the ACM and IEEE haven't gone that far, at least as of yet. But the underlying problem is the same: an inability to accept that when the world has changed, organizations have to adapt or die. (Are there any mammals here? I think a digital asteroid has just crashed in to the information planet.)
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