Monday, May 21, 2018

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What Is Open Access Anyway?

– Posted in: Global
Open Access Logo photo

What is open access anyway? Open Access is basically giving public access to the public domain. What does that mean exactly though? Well, it covers several subjects, but we can start with the legal arena for example. The law in the US is “public domain”, meaning the public has, or should have, access to the law, it belongs freely to the public as a whole. That however, has not been, and is not now the case, since to obtain “the law” one usually must pay access fees to get the data. One must either buy law books, or pay the PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) system to obtain the documents one wants. This hardly makes the information “free and available” to all.

Another example would be Scientific Research Data, and Scholarly Journals. This information is generally funded by the public, produced by Scientists, and then locked up by a few corporations under copyright, and patent, and although the public funded it, the public rarely gets to see or study the data unless of course, they pay huge sums for the data. This makes the data only available to the select few in educational institutions or large corporations who can afford to purchase it back a piece at a time.

Then there are all the ancient texts. For thousands of years man as a whole has been gaining knowledge, and instead of all of that knowledge being free for everyone to access, it is again locked up by Universities, Governments, and even Churches.

All of this public domain information, even though it is public domain, has been locked up and is not really accessible to the public as it should be. Open Access is making that public domain information actually available to the public, free of charge. The information belongs to all of mankind, and yet a few power hungry, greedy organizations have kept it from us all, and profited from what belongs to all of us.

Open Access is making all of this information freely available, as it should be. Open Access is the idea that companies, governments, and churches do not have the exclusive rights to all the knowledge of mankind to hold, hoard, and sell as they please. It is the idea that the knowledge should be freely available to everyone, period.

Open Access applies to patents also. Corporations have kept certain patents that should be public domain locked up as well.

No one should be blocked from this information because of their economic status. And with Open Access, they won’t.

Happily, Open Access brings down education costs and makes an education available to anyone who wishes to obtain one through self study. Though there are still those who keep and intend to keep Open Access from happening. Those who make millions and billions of dollars on the sale of public domain fear and fight what is happening, but with persistence and education, the Open Access idea will surely win in the end.

Ground is being gained everyday in this area and it is an exciting frontier for all who participate. There are many ways to participate in the Open Access revolution. One could, if he or she had access to locked up public domain information, load that information onto a thumb-drive and deliver it to those who are making the information available online for free. There are even those who would provide you with computer code to extract the information more quickly. One could also join groups who are working on the problems of Open Access, or even form a group yourself. One can even just work on informing others about Open Access, what it is and why it is important.

The idea seems to be gaining ground, though, as more and more people contribute to the effort. Everyone from soccer moms, to educators, business people, activists, hackivists, and even politicians are getting into the Revolution. It’s a new frontier, the wild west, and it’s an exciting time to be a witness to the efforts of mankind.

The copyright and patent of public domain information has to stop. The information belongs to all of us, not to the greedy few. The Open Access Revolution promises to liberate all public domain, and I don’t think there is anything that can stop that Revolution.

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