Professor Erik Ringmar will be on iPM on BBC Radio Four talking about liberating old papers. Do listen as it’s an important one. Partly, it’s about free information being freely available, but some of the things that should be freely available already aren’t. The case in point (as Erik writes in the Times Higher) is House of Commons reports.
“All reports produced by the House of Commons have, for example, been scanned by a company called ProQuest. Its site is great – pages are searchable backwards and forwards. The only problem is that access is restricted and comes with a charge. Each downloaded parliamentary report bears a little inscription: “Copyright © 2006, ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights reserved.”
Think about this for a second. Here is a company that lays exclusive claim to material produced by the elected representatives of the people. A company whose business idea it is to restrict access to our common heritage. This is upsetting first of all because it goes against the rights of citizens in a democracy to have the documents produced by their parliament freely available. Second, ProQuest is claiming copyright to material whose copyright has long expired. And finally it makes academic research far more difficult. Unless you belong to a university that’s prepared to pay for the stuff, you won’t get to read it.”
Do listen in – it’s on tomorrow afternoon.