three gathering storms that could cause collateral damage to open access

Peter Suber’s Open Access newsletter and related blog should be required reading for librarians who care about free access to information. This month he discusses three large proposed shifts in the way the Internet works that could have long-lasting implications for open access: the webcasting treaty, network neutrality debates and the end of free email. Heavily footnoted and clearly explained, these ideas should be read and understood by people concerned with equality of access.

If companies like AT&T and Verizon have their way, there will be two tiers of internet service: fast and expensive and slow and cheap (or cheaper). We unwealthy users –students, scholars, universities, and small publishers– wouldn’t be forced offline, just forced into the slow lane.

One thought on “three gathering storms that could cause collateral damage to open access

  1. I don’t even need to read this guy’s piece to easily refute these alarmist arguments. First of all, all attempts to restrict file-sharing, webcasting, and intellectual property have been massive failures so far. I knew about RIAA’s legal strategy against file-sharing before they implemented it–at the time the consensus inside RIAA was that the music industry had lost the file-sharing wars but RIAA had to fight one. And they indeed lost the file-sharing wars. Apple even made hash out the music industry’s hysteria with the success of selling music via iTunes.

    The two tier Internet? Come on, give me a break. There is already a grassroots backlash to this idea. This scheme to charge more for faster access won’t go anywhere because bandwidth is already fast and widely available. If these companies do have a deleterious impact on the Internet, they will get smacked down by consumer backlash and anti-trust rulings.

    Lastly, this guy is worried about the end for free email? Who cares if AOL and Yahoo start charging for email? They’ll just screw themselves as people flock to Gmail, Hotmail, and other services. Storage is cheap for these big companies and they are very competitive for consumer eyeballs.

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