Accepted Paper:

Remaking the Commons: open access movements and the deprivatization of scientific publications  

Author:

Didier Torny (INRA- Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique)

Paper short abstract:

Open access movements have raised the tension between a conception of scientific publications as a common good and another one based on legally defined rights. I trace the genesis of the OA movements and analyze how public policies rearticulate public goods and private rights in contrasting ways

Paper long abstract:

Open access movements-have raised the tension between a conception of scientific products as a common good and another one based on rights defined in legal devices. This tension was at the heart of Aaron Swartz case, author of the Guerilla Open Access Manifesto in 2008, calling for the illegal sharing of copyrighted scientific articles, a claim that has been recently implemented by the promoters of Sci-Hub and LibGen websites.

These activists are the offspring of the precursors of open access, who acted on behalf of distinct values in order to develop alternative ways to the traditional scientific publishing. Involving funders, publishers, academics and universities, they aimed at the reallocation of the funding of publications, and the creation of new forms of dissemination and archiving.

In fact, open access is not a unique solution to organize commons and markets in the publication business, but rather a patchwork of various devices, sometimes conflicting one with another.

Drawing on the new politicial sociology of science, I trace the genesis of the open access movement and its offshoots, focusing on the specific objectives of activists groups and their repertoires. I show the essential role of a coalition of actors in the early 2000s, in the stabilization of material and symbolic devices built to transform the political economy of academic publishing. Finally, I analyze how various public policies (US, UK, EU) redefine the economics of publication, articulating public goods and private rights in different ways.

Panel T018
Markets versus commons? What relationships? What roles for STS?