[linux-elitists] Re: More sites targeted -- another view (fwd)

Eugen Leitl eugen@leitl.org
Sat Nov 16 02:35:53 PST 2002


---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 15 Nov 2002 22:32:38 -0600
From: Robert Buntrock <buntrock2@EARTHLINK.NET>
Reply-To: CHEMICAL INFORMATION SOURCES DISCUSSION LIST
    <CHMINF-L@indiana.edu>
To: CHMINF-L@LISTSERV.INDIANA.EDU
Subject: Re: More sites targeted -- another view

Robert Michaelson wrote:

...

> I rarely find the motives of the chemical information industry to be
> intelligible, and their opposition to PubScience is no exception. Certainly
> PubScience never took away any profit opportunities from the commercial
> sector; all I can guess is that they opposed PubScience because they were
> afraid that some future public database might compete with them.


The latter is a good possibility.  Protection of copyright is another.
If you don't enforce your copyright rights (or trademark, patent, etc.),
you'll lose them.


> On the other hand, they presumably don't currently oppose PubMed because
> there is a very large and vocal constituency for that excellent database.
> They pick their fights, and I suspect SIIA won't try to destroy PubMed (or
> Medline or the National Library of Medicine) until they have a far better
> political opportunity to do so.  But should we find ourselves in the
> horrendous position of having a Republican supermajority (2/3) in the
> Senate, I would expect even PubMed to be torpedoed, along with many other
> vital government services.



Funding for NLM's overall mission has been a sacred cow for years even
decades, surviving administrations and Congresses of all political
stripes.  At the onset of PubMed, I interviewed one of their contacts on
a number of matters, including how could the afford to offer it at no
charge when it cost a minimum of $35/hr. on 3rd party vendors.  He said
Congressional had funded their mission for years and he didn't see any
change.  He also said that they always could have provided MEDLINE for
free but that the vendors insisted on minimal charges to cover their
costs of vending.

I don't use it because my customers are willing to pay for MEDLine.
>From what I hear, it's not a full service database.  Several MEDLINE
features are missing and the results can't be efficiently merged,
deduped, or other wise processed for value added service.

Ever since ISI began offering services in the 60s, Gene Garfield was
also sniping at government organizations that offered "free
information".  He kept stressing that if something was free, it had
little or no value.

TANSTAAFL - there ain't no such thing as a free lunch.  I can see both
points of views but as a US taxpayer, I wonder about subsidizing usage
by non-US taxpayers.  Maybe Bob is right -- maybe the current swing in
politics will produce restrictions on free or heavily subsidized
services.


> At 07:32 PM 11/15/2002 +0000, Ben Scott wrote:
> >     I apologise if I'm digging up an old and tired discussion, but if
> >PubScience was of such little use for professional research, then why did
> >the chemical information industry feel so threatened as to have it shut
> >down?
> >
> >     My personal opinion is that anything that isolates science and
> >scientific information from the public community does nothing but harm the
> >science community as a whole. Is it likely to become reality that the SIIA
> >are going to try and close down the rest of the 'free' databases?


You must admit that the isolation is not total but one of cost.  I admit
that cost can be a barrier, especially for personal or otherwise
unfunded use.  As for use for research, funding should cover the costs
of information retrieval.  However, research directors have discretion
over how such funds are used and all too often use them for equipment,
reagents etc.

-- Bob Buntrock
Buntrock Associates, Inc.

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