Inorganic Crystal Structure Database (ICSD) Conditions of Use
"Information retrieved from the database shall not be passed on to third parties not belonging to the group of authorised users.”
But as Frank Allen, Director of the Cambridge Crystallographic Data Centre says, “There is no such thing as a free database1). Creating and maintaining any major international scientific database requires funding. That funding can only come from two possible sources: (a) public funding (i.e. from taxpayers) or (b) by direct charges on the end-user.”
Martin Blume, Editor-in-Chief of The American Physical Society says that the same holds for journals. “We could make our complete archives available without charge today, if the institutions that now subscribe and pay fees instead became sponsors, and made an annual contribution equivalent to what they now pay as a subscription fee.”
Martin Frank, Executive Director of the American Physiological Society suggests that instead, authors might be asked to pay the real cost of publishing their papers, a relatively small overhead on the cost of performing the research itself. “For APS journals, we estimated that this would involve a surcharge to authors of $2,500 to $3,000 per manuscript — more with colour figures — to distribute the research content for free to the community.”
Of course most scientists are not economists, and have perhaps not considered all the possible consequences of alternative ways to finance publishing. Charging to publish scientific papers would reduce publishing by the poorest laboratories, and boycotting journals that did not provide free on-line access would ensure that only the richest publishers survived.
As Martin Richardson, Journals Publishing Director of Oxford University Press says “If the scientific community wishes publishers to make their online journals available free of charge... this might force publishers to charge higher prices, reducing rather than increasing accessibility to the literature... Whatever the outcome of this debate, someone has to pay...”
If you are interested in hearing other opinions about electronic access to journals and databases, you will want to read Nature Debates - Future e-access to the primary literature “The topic of this Nature forum — the impact of the Web on the publishing of the results of original research — has, since the emergence of the Internet, filled volumes… We have invited leading representatives of the main groups of stakeholders and observers from the mainstream Internet industries to express their views in 1,000-word articles.”
All possible alternatives to finance ICSD-for-WWW are offered — individual scientist access fees, laboratory or institute access licenses, or whole country access agreements. But in the real world, there is no such thing as a free lunch1). There are obligations as well as access rights for the use of databases. Please respect these obligations, or the age of the internet will also become the age of anarchy.
1)"There's No Such Thing As a Free Lunch" by Milton Friedman (1975) ISBN 0875483100