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OA and IP: open access, digital copyright and marketplace competition

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For over 200 years copyright law has enabled, and scholars and their publishers have depended on, a state-granted monopoly, creating 'artificial scarcity' to give publishers a period during which they can charge higher prices than the market would otherwise dictate and thus recover their costs, plus (usually) a profit. But today we have instant access to digital works, and easy, worldwide distribution for almost no cost to the reader beyond those of computers, Internet access, and electricity. The monopolistic mechanism of 'artificial scarcity' now turns one of the most critical advantages of the digital world into something to be fought tooth and nail. The solution is not stronger and longer copyrights. It more likely will emerge from experimentation to find business models that can fund the creation of works, still a costly undertaking, without sacrificing the digital benefit of almost free distribution to everyone who might desire to access them.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2009-10-01

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  • Editor in Chief: Pippa Smart
    North American Editor: Judy Luther

    Learned Publishing is the journal of the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers, published in collaboration with the Society for Scholarly Publishing. The journal is published quarterly in January/April/July/October.

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    Learned Publishing will be moving to Wiley-Blackwell as of January 1, 2016. Please contact the publisher at for information on how to continue access to this title.
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