Sobre cómo se está transformando la industria del libro y la naturalización del «open access», Bodó Balázs

por Juan Pablo Anaya

«Book-streaming, the flat-rate, the all-you-can-eat format of accessing books is at the moment only available to audiobooks, but rarely for e-books. I wonder why.

Did you notice that there are no major book piracy lawsuits?

Of course there is the lawsuit against Sci-Hub and Library Genesis in New York, and there is another one in Canada against aaaaarg, causing major nuisance to those who have been named in these cases. But this is almost negligible compared to the high profile wars the music and audiovisual industries waged against Napster, Grokster, Kazaa, megaupload and their likes. It is as if book publishers have completely given up on trying to fight piracy in the courts, and have launched a few lawsuits only to maintain the appearance that they still care about their digital copyrights. I wonder why.
I know the academic publishing industry slightly better than the mainstream popular fiction market, and I have the feeling that in the former copyright-based business models are slowly being replaced by something else. We see no major anti-piracy efforts from publishers, not because piracy is non-existent — on the contrary, it is global, and it is big — but because the publishers most probably realized that in the long run the copyright-based exclusivity model is unsustainable. The copyright wars of the last two decades taught them that law cannot put an end to piracy. As the Sci-Hub case demonstrates, you can win all you want in a New York court, but this has little real-world effect as long as the conditions that attract the users to the shadow libraries remain.
Exclusivity-based publishing business models are under assault from other sides as well. Mandated open access in the US and in the EU means that there is a quickly growing body of new research for the access of which publishers cannot charge money anymore. LibGen and Sci-Hub make it harder to charge for the back catalogue. Their sheer existence teaches millions on what uncurtailed open access really is, and makes it easier for university libraries to negotiate with publishers, as they don’t have to worry about their patrons being left without any access at all.
The good news is that radical open access may well be happening. It is a less and less radical idea to have things freely accessible. One has to be less and less radical to achieve the openness that has been long overdue. Maybe it is not yet obvious today and the victory is not yet universal, maybe it’ll take some extra years, maybe it won’t ever be evenly distributed, but it is obvious that this genie, these millions of books on everything from malaria treatments to critical theory, cannot be erased, and open access will not be undone, and the future will be free of access barriers.»