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Monday, February 27, 2012

Publishers and the trebling of Open University fees


In the UK fees for Open University courses trebled. In the USA students take mortgage size loans to get a basic college education. The Open University terminated the employment of all continental European staff. ( ... ) The list is endless. - In the mean time there is one party in the field of education that keeps raking in profits, the publishers. Publishers are about as evil as bankers.

In this first post about the evil publishers I want to share some sounds with you that I picked up from the BlogoSphere.

The so-called publishing houses are the mafia. They're parasites on society and care solely about profit. They don't care one bit about human betterment so long as they can live in mansions and not have to work. It's well established that academics don't make any money for publishing, yet we're the ones doing all the work! And then, we're forced to pay for it (again) through massive licensing fees paid to publishing houses in exchange for having access to journals that our colleagues are forced to publish in. The entire system is rigged.

A lot of people really believe that was about stealing books and defrauding authors. No. It was about making vitally important information available to promote human flourishing. It is in everyone's best interest to have a highly educated population. As for the ridiculous argument that creators of creative works were being robbed, I've got to ask: Where did the ideas for a mathematical theorem come from--an individual genius working in isolation, bereft of many years of training by academic mentors? I think not. How do songs get created? Is it from the imagination of a single artist? Or does it entail a filtering of massive quantities of information from experiences in the environment through an individual brain? If it's the latter, why should we give so much credit to an individual where we should all take credit? We don't achieve in isolation. We're in this life together, and it seems extraordinarily unfair and cruel to me that a small group of individuals should profit at everyone else's expense under the mythology of "capitalism" (a facade for economic fascism) and "copyright."

The very idea of copyright is a scam from the get-go. It's merely a thinly veiled ploy to prevent others from gaining access to a work. And why would one want to do that? Status, power, and profit. "I'm better than you." "I deserve more than you." "My Porsche in Los Angeles is more important than you, over there in Africa, dying of hunger." It's really quite an arrogant and destructive idea. If I had a MacBook, and you took it from me without my permission, that would be stealing. But if you copy an ebook, you're merely replicating digital bits. It essentially costs nothing, and it doesn't deprive anyone of anything. To the contrary, it's a benefit because it increases the probability that someone along the line will read that ebook, learn something from it, and contribute to society. wasn't a cunning method of making money. It was a morally heroic effort to make the world better, and it was succeeding until the Nazis attacked it from a German court.

If a U.S. company developed a drug that victims of AIDS could take for one year and be cured, at a cost of 100,000 USD, yet millions of Africans were dying of AIDS, would it be morally right for the Africans to break the U.S. company's patent on the drug, manufacture it, and distribute it to everyone who needed it? I claim that that would be the morally right thing to do. Shockingly, a large number of people disagrees!

Dostoyevsky is dead, yet publishing houses are making millions of dollars on his books. Something has gone terribly wrong in our society. Contrary to the rhetoric of the media companies who sway public opinion by throwing money at it, pirates are needed to prevent the fascism and parasitism that has historically been the norm for the aggressive Homo sapiens sapiens species. Human progress, and what we call culture, are precarious and can disappear very quickly if the circumstances are right. Against the threat of descent into barbarism is education, to which contributed immensely on a global scale.

We must fight for freedom and progress.

Wasn't it Homer who somewhere wrote, "...for he was excellent above all men in theft and perjury?"

What an apt description of the plutarchs who run the publishing, music, film, and every other industry, and prey upon the rest of us who actually work and create.

Phil ( address of publication known by me )

From a post of Gowers's Weblog

The Dutch publisher Elsevier publishes many of the world’s best known mathematics journals, including Advances in Mathematics, Comptes Rendus, Discrete Mathematics, The European Journal of Combinatorics, Historia Mathematica, Journal of Algebra, Journal of Approximation Theory, Journal of Combinatorics Series A, Journal of Functional Analysis, Journal of Geometry and Physics, Journal of Mathematical Analysis and Applications, Journal of Number Theory, Topology, and Topology and its Applications. For many years, it has also been heavily criticized for its business practices. Let me briefly summarize these criticisms.

1. It charges very high prices — so far above the average that it seems quite extraordinary that they can get away with it.

... More at Gowers's weblog

To be continued.

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