More clarification from Stevan Harnad

I was just about to start some hacking, but I’ve just got a comment from Stevan that needs reply. [This blog is not the best medium to carry out this discussion but it seems to be providing something useful.] Parts of the comment are excised in this post

Stevan Harnad Says:
[full comment]
Price-Barrier-Free OA (free online access, better name to come) is one form of OA, Permission-Barrier-Free OA (better name to come) is another.

PMR: I think a major confusion has come from the term “Permission-Barrier-Free”. I read this to mean “Free of all permissions” whereas the Suber-Harnad terminology is for “Free from at least one permission-barrier”

And the logical algorithm continues to be that Price-Barrier-Free OA is a necessary condition for Permission-Barrier-Free OA and Permission-Barrier-Free OA is a sufficient condition for Price-Barrier-Free OA, which technically and logically makes the one “Weak OA” and the other “Strong OA”.
However, two problems remain: “Weak” has unintended pejorative connotations, so it cannot be used as the generic name for Price-Barrier-Free OA.

PMR: As I understand it weakOA is a uniform object which is price-free but has not other advantages. Words such as minimal or basic would be descriptive

And Permission-Barrier-Free OA is a matter of degree (whereas Price-Barrier-Free OA is all-or-none).
So in order to avoid vagueness, a further criterion is needed in order to define Permission-Barrier-Free OA precisely: A minimum or lower bound has to be specified (in the hierarchy of possible CC licenses) for Permission-Barrier-Free OA.

PMR: Much OA does not use licences at all. If all OA can be specified by licences that would be a vast improvement

(In addition, and optionally, an optimum CC license can be designated, either in general, or for certain fields or uses.)
This has nothing whatsoever to do with either “grand visions” or rhetoric. It is all about functionality, logic and practicality.
If you don’t mind my saying so, Peter, you have a specific need for a specific kind of Permission-Barrier-Free OA. You seem to want to define OA, or Strong OA, or Permission-Barrier-Free OA as what meets that specific need.

PMR: No. I read “Permission-Barrier-Free OA” as meaning “free of all permission-barriers”. If it doesn’t it is highly misleading.

In the wider context of OA, your specific need falls within a spectrum of needs, all of which are supported by the architects and advocates of OA. But your specific needs cannot be made the basis of the definition of OA, and not even of the definition of Permission-Barrier-Free OA. There is no point calling this simple logical, functional and practical fact a preference for grand visions of rhetoric, because it is not.

PMR: My specific need is for clarity, not for a special type of OA.

In addition, it may well be that your own specific needs have no use for the Green/Gold distinction — which is not about how OA is defined, but about how OA is delivered (via OA self-archiving of articles in non-OA journals or via publishing in OA journals). But the reason you keep finding the color distinction confusing (despite having it repeatedly explained, and despite the fact that it was formulated to resolve confusion) may again be that you are focussed only on your own specific OA needs and not on the OA needs of others, and on the confusion that needs to be resolved in order to meet them.
OA is being defined and provided in order to fulfill a broad spectrum of needs, primary among them being free online access to articles that would otherwise be inaccessible to users. In addition, there is a broad spectrum of permissions and corresponding licenses that can remove a broad spectrum of permission barriers to a broad spectrum of possible usage and re-usage needs. Apart from a specific CC license, there is no natural kind in all of this that corresponds only to the kinds of usage needs you have in mind.
This is not a logical, practical or functional defect in the concept, the nature or the definition of OA.

PMR: My perspective is as a user/reader, agreed. So how the document got to be OA is less important to me personally that what the final situation is. “Green” and “gold” represent processes, and the processes per se do not define the final outcome. So “self-archiving” does not indicate what the user may or may not do. That matters to me.
Note also that the word in general will take its definition of OA either from BBB or Wikipedia which states:

Open access (OA) is free, immediate, permanent, full-text, online access, for any user, web-wide, to digital scientific and scholarly material,[1] primarily research articles published in peer-reviewed journals. OA means that any user, anywhere, who has access to the Internet, may link, read, download, store, print-off, use, and data-mine the digital content of that article. An OA article usually has limited copyright and licensing restrictions.

the spectrum covered by weakOA and much OA does not accord with BBB or WP. You are therefore redefining the use of the term itself. This may be a good thing, but it certain to cause much confusion and I am acting as a touchstone for that.

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6 Responses to More clarification from Stevan Harnad

  1. B.C.Kaemper says:

    The apparent logic behind the proposed declaration of weak vs. strong OA is faulty. It is wrong to say that permission-barrier-free implies price-barrier free. This assumes that the price barrier is a form of permission barrier. It is not, or it need not be. Most e-journals behind toll gateways are very restrictive in what you can do with the content, and if you pay per view, it is usually not different. On the other it is easy to imagine (already existing) flexible (micro-)payment schemes that could generate a continuous revenue stream without requiring individual transactions that give you all the rights you need for reuse of the content you have paid for. If researchers need more than fair use, e.g. for data mining projects, then such schemes are a definitive possibility, because it may serve to remove a price barrier without necessarily making content free as in free beer.
    But the logic of strong vs. weak gets even worse when it is stated that permission-barrier free means just free from at least one permission. It could be any one of the many permissions needed. Such a label is so vague as to be worthless. The BBB definition is clear enough, and it should be sticked to.

  2. B.C.Kaemper says:

    P.S.: I did not read the earlier postings below in which some of my criticism ahs already been taken up and discussed. At this point, however, I have not sufficient time to read all and expand on my arguments or revise them. Feel free to delete the comment above if you feel it doesn’t add to the discussion. Anyway, my remarks above only cover partial aspects. B.C.

  3. I think we are talking at cross-purposes.
    BBB OA is an instance of permission-barrier-free OA.
    The Wikipedia definition of OA correctly describes what comes with the territory with price-barrier-free OA (which includes the ability for the user to do individual local data-mining). It makes no mention of the re-use or re-publication of the output of that data-mining. That is part of permission-barrier-free OA.
    Apart from the (still unspecified) lower bound for permission-barrier-free OA, the two forms of OA are defined as clearly as can be.
    Hence I think what you are looking for is not clarity but a definition of OA that corresponds with the permission OA that you specifically need.
    This can only be done by specifying the CC license you need, not by making that the definition of OA.
    (And you may well be interested only in what you have permission to do with what is freely accessible online, but OA’s primary hurdle is getting up there, freely accessible, in the first place.)
    I shall not comment further, as I think we are now simply repeating ourselves.
    (I also don’t mind at all that you don’t post my comments in their original form, but only with interposed replies by you. However, I would have preferred if you did not excise parts of my original comments altogether…)

  4. pm286 says:

    (1, 2) Thanks.
    (3) Yes, we have reached a stable position where we agree on some things and know each other’s positions on the diagreements.
    You comments are posted in their full form in the comments area. I never edit comments.
    When I comment on any material I reserve the right to choose those parts I wish to address. The link to the original comment should be given as a permalink (if not I’ll fix it)

  5. There don’t seem to be any links to the full original comments.

  6. Klaus Graf says:

    The permalinks don’t work for me. They are referring to a page “Murray-Rust Group: Blogs”. Maybe it’s an intranet problem.

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