Lawrence Lessig Discusses Open Access Movement at CERN

Flickr.com: Lawrence Lessig Remix Party

Lawrence Lessig, a Harvard professor, and a leader of the free culture movement, held a lecture at CERN recently, discussing the architecture of access to scientific knowledge on the internet. While explaining “how badly we have messed things up” by regulating access to parts of articles or regulating access down to the sentence, he has strongly encouraged the open access movement which includes the reform in licensing scientific materials and opening up access to scientific material.

Science is a Fad-Resistor

“In the context of science,” Lessig claims, “copyright is not essential.” He sees science as a fad-resistor, and explains that free access is no fad. While copyright was not intended for publishers, but for authors, in the original law statutes, he sees  publisher restrictions to scientific materials in a digital age as restrictions that achieve elite-nment rather than elingtenment, and using them means supporting the non-knowledge society. While “knowledge elite”, i.e. university professors, have exclusive access to information, the copyright benefits only publishers. Some goods are goods that we simply “must have” and by architecting regulated access to parts or particular sentences of scientific articles, we are only achieving the goal of maximized revenue for publishers.

Archiving is Not Enough

Open Access Movement was inspired by the cost of journals

Lessig is famous from before for leading an inspiring battle against products of outdated copyright law, and now, he has made an open call to scientists and researchers to publish their work in open access journals while even pointing out a clear difference between self-archiving and publishing in open access journals, which is – licensing. “Archiving is not enough,” Lessig points out, “since it still encourages architecture of closed access.” However, both paths to open access were inspired by the cost of journals.

Universal, Instead of Exclusive Access

Lessig has welcomed CERN‘s open access initiative, and is expecting to see some dramatic changes throughout the next few years in the field of high-energy physics. The constant shock to our culture is practicing exclusivity in the age of the internet. “The practice of publishing in open access journals,” Lessig repeats, “is changing the debate in science.” The main mission of a read-write culture, we learn, is to provide “universal access to knowledge”, not exclusive access, “in every part of the globe.”

For a proper enjoyment of this lecture, take 50 minutes of your time to watch it on the video, or to learn more about the new copyright architecture suggested in the lecture, read an article from the IP Watch portal.

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