In 2016, the German consortium of universities and research centers that negotiated with Elsevier, the world scientific publishing giant, refused to renew the subscription. They asked Elsevier to modify his business model to facilitate open access to all the scientific production of those who do science in Germany, something that did not happen. The decision of Germany has awakened a revolution that threatens to change the model of scientific publication and has as its background open access.
By 2018, in addition to Germany, Sweden, Norway and Hungary had made similar decisions. At the beginning of 2019, the University of California, in EE. UU, Announced that it would not continue with the subscription, because it had not reached an agreement with Elsevier.
The business model of scientific publishers like Elsevier supposes millionaires pay for access to their databases that mean big profits. In 2017, Elsevier’s operations were $ 1.17 billion and it reported earnings of $ 3.17 billion in relation to its scientific, technical and medical publications. This meant a profit margin of almost 37%.
Meanwhile, the articles and their evaluations make them scientists often financed with public money. The same system has mechanisms for measuring impact that end up being those that define the incentives of the academy. Therefore, they largely determine the policy and scientific agenda of the countries.
The business model has been favored, among other things, by its opacity. Negotiations are made by the institution or by country in a confidential manner. Part of what is happening now is that the information is coming to light, even more, organizations say how much they pay. Additionally, in Europe, for example, they are meeting to discuss it, including US institutions. UU This may be what has helped increase the discontent.
For Saturday, demonstrations are being held in Europe in rejection of the proposal of the Copyright Directive that the European Parliament will vote on Tuesday. If approved, it would go to the Council where it has the road paved to become the road map that will modify the legislation in all the countries of that region and change the internet substantially, for the worse.
On the internet, anyone can generate and disseminate content; frequently, it is done using third-party platforms. It’s not like TV, newspaper or radio where someone decides what is broadcast. For that reason, it is considered an unparalleled tool of freedom of expression. That same characteristic is the one that generates so many problems by course and even illegal expressions.
However, it is a fact that the entertainment industry is interested in the circulation of content on the internet and has demonstrated its ability to adjust to the digital market (Netflix is an example of this) and that, with the praiseworthy objective of defending the remuneration of the creators, lobby to get legal reforms that claim an exaggerated and absolute control over the circulation of contents in the network.
The new proposal of the Directive is an example of this. Let’s see the case of article 13 (# Article 13). The standard requires platforms where content generated by people who use these services (YouTube, Facebook, Wikimedia, etc.) is published to have an automated filter to check everything that is going to upload and immediately block what is identified as protected by copyright. This before even the content is published.
The effects on freedom of expression triggered the alarms of the people in Europe during the first semester of 2018. The action of contacting the parliamentarians they had elected made it possible for the majority of parliamentarians to reject the text of the proposed Directive at that time last July.
The central problem is that this provision is an order of prior censorship, a disproportionate measure of affecting the freedom of expression of people, said David Kaye, rapporteur for the Freedom of Expression of the UN.