From the Financial Times: (and you should buy a subscription)
Piracy is a problem as old as the music industry itself. In Victorian times, it was illicitly copied sheet music that was the avowed enemy of the artist, and the operetta team Gilbert and Sullivan paid toughs to go round London pubs smashing up pianos with sledge hammers whenever they found bootlegged scores.
I dropped my subscription to the IEEE “Digital Library” because I found that if I strayed from a very narrow range ofÂ areas, the IEEE wanted ridiculous fees for access to papers. For example, despite a subscription to the digital library, I was not entitled to papers in power engineering. Now I find that the IEEE is refusing to accept public domain papers for publication on the most dubious grounds. If the IEEE was charging simple access fees to papers – say a few dollars – it would be one thing, but at $18 or more per paper the IEEE is basically trying to create a wall around the material it got (for free!) from scientific workers and turn this material into a profit center.Â It’s an absolute disgrace that poor students in Mozambique, not to mention Texas, are being extorted to pay for access to scientific data that was compiled at public expense and whose creators wanted it to be made generally available.
If the IEEE wants to be a profit making publisher, it should be forthwright about its intentions and then contributors to IEEE publications can consider whether they are being fairly compensated for their work.