Edited by Ruth Towse and Christian Handke
With the digital era and the spread of the Internet, the academic publishing market is currently facing another revolution after the invention of the Xerox copier in 1959. While copyright was broadened through a series of significant reforms after the Xerox copier had been introduced, new business models, especially open access (OA), seem to have recently put copyright and its role in academia into debate. Two developments motivate this ëOA debateí. First, subscription prices for academic journals have increased, which has forced (university) libraries to significantly cut their journal portfolios. Second, copyright as an incentive mechanism seems negligible in academia, as researchers are motivated by reputation gains and CV effects rather than direct financial returns from publishing their works. Consequently, the OA publishing model may be seen as a superior alternative for the conventional closed access (CA) publishing model. This chapter critically reviews the OA debate by discussing theoretical and empirical arguments on the role of copyright in academic publishing. A brief historical examination introduces the altering conditions for scholarly publishing and highlights the new trade-off in the digital age. By locating the debate within a broader stream of current research, we provide alleys for further research and a glimpse of possible future scenarios. It is shown that copyright may be both a blessing and a curse in establishing an effective framework for scientific progress.
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