In response to my post Why doesn’t Springer use a CC licence? and Bill Hooker’s reply Egon Willighagen writes:
Egon, I can’t agree with you on this one! Essentially you are saying that when an author publishes in journal X then implicitly they agree to prevent any competition with any of the projects that the publisher of that journal produces.
[NOTE ADDED LATER. EGON HAS CLARIFIED THAT HIS COMMENT WAS ON THE PUBLISHER’S MOTIVATION, NOT WHAT HE [EGON] WOULD LIKE TO SEE – EXCELLENT. AND IT GAVE ME A CHANCE TO AIR THE OPEN DATA THEME AGAIN. SO WE CERTAINLY WISH TO STRIVE FOR CC-BY RATHER THAN CC-NC].
IMO the publishers control far too much information already. We need – in the UK term – a “level playing field”. I have no fundamental objection to commercial databases “won by the sweat of the brow” but I do object to publishers owning scientific data submitted by article authors. I have taken this up with the journal “Molecules” – you can see previous posts on the blog – where the journal forbids commercial re-use of the material in the published papers. The also sell collections of molecules, so any abstraction of molecular information from their journal would compete. Let it be so – they have a head start so if their product is better they should be able to beat the competition. If their product is inferior then they deserve to lose out.
As an example, Wiley have a database of 350,000 spectra (or something like tnat). We’ve had lot’s of fun discussing on the blogosphere how it stands with NMRShifDB (20,000+ molecules). Now if your logic was followed we’d say that no-one should build a commercial database out of spectra published in Wiley journals because it would compete with theirs. My argument is completely opposite – I want all spectra in any journal to be Open and re-useable for any legitimate purpose including commercial. Then anyone can create a database. What they cannot do is claim a monopoly on the individual contents.
And I’m sure that the Blue Obelisk mantra – Open Data, Open Standards, Open Source allows commercial re-use. 🙂