ACM/IEEE copyright policy: Matt Blaze is annoyed at the ACM and IEEE copyright policy. So am I. In an update to his post he reports:
A prominent member of the ACM asserted to me that copyright assignment and putting papers behind the ACM's centralized 'digital library' paywall is the best way to ensure their long-term 'integrity'. That's certainly a novel theory; most computer scientists would say that wide replication, not centralization, is the best way to ensure availability, and that a centrally-controlled repository is more subject to tampering and other mischief than a decentralized and replicated one.
This is deeply ironic, because ACM bestowed both a Best Paper award and an ACM Student Research award on Petros Maniatis, Mema Roussopoulos, TJ Giuli, David S.H. Rosenthal, Mary Baker, and Yanto Muliadi, 'Preserving Peer Replicas By Rate-Limited Sampled Voting', 19th ACM Symposium on Operating Systems Principles (SOSP) , Bolton Landing, NY, October, 2003. for demonstrating that the 'prominent member' is wrong and Matt is right.
Even just thinking of the economics alone, and not of the systems issues, which preservation method would you rather trust? The prominent member's, which depends on the ACM's ability to extract rents from the scientific community into the indefinite future? Or a proliferation of copies in many repositories all over the world funded in diverse ways?
It appears that IEEE is experimenting with some alternatives. The latest Institute described some new policies including a general policy of permitting authors to host their accepted submissions on personal or company (and academic?) sites. Other experiments underway (varying by publication) include free access for the first year after publication, and a "ransom" where authors can pay a publication fee to make the article free for download. Personally, I don't think that's enough, but I do wonder what will happen to my dues if the revenue currently gained from access fees goes away.
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