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Kad je dosadno - Ekonomija poklanjanja
Written by Gary Hall   
Tuesday, 01 February 2011

Gary Hall: Pirate Philosophy : Open Access, Open Editing, Free Content, Free/Libre/Open Media.

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This article is licensed under the Creative Commons.

The Future of... Open Access

19-23 October 2009 was recently declared the First International Open Access Week by the scientific and medical publisher PLoS (the Public Library of Science), working in conjunction with SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition), and Students for FreeCulture.  For those still unfamiliar with the term, open access is concerned with making peer reviewed scholarly research and publications freely available online for all those who are able to access the Internet, without the need to pay subscriptions either to publish or to (pay per)view it (in open access’ purest forms, anyway). ‘Free’ in this context also means free to upload to and download from, free to read, print out, reproduce and distribute copies, and also free of the majority of restrictions associated with publishers’ policies, licensing and copyright agreements.  

While there are many different variations of open access, most take one of two main forms: what are called the ‘Gold’ and the ‘Green’ roads to open access. The Gold Road refers to publishing research in online open access journals; the Green Road to authors making their work - which may or may not have already been published elsewhere – available open access by self-archiving digital copies of it in either central, subject or institutionally-based online repositories.

 

Gary Hall: Pirate Philosophy : Open Access, Open Editing, Free Content, Free/Libre/Open Media.

The Future of... Open Access
 

19-23 October 2009 was recently declared the First International Open Access Week by the scientific and medical publisher PLoS (the Public Library of Science), working in conjunction with SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition), and Students for FreeCulture.  For those still unfamiliar with the term, open access is concerned with making peer reviewed scholarly research and publications freely available online for all those who are able to access the Internet, without the need to pay subscriptions either to publish or to (pay per)view it (in open access’ purest forms, anyway). ‘Free’ in this context also means free to upload to and download from, free to read, print out, reproduce and distribute copies, and also free of the majority of restrictions associated with publishers’ policies, licensing and copyright agreements.  

While there are many different variations of open access, most take one of two main forms: what are called the ‘Gold’ and the ‘Green’ roads to open access. The Gold Road refers to publishing research in online open access journals; the Green Road to authors making their work - which may or may not have already been published elsewhere – available open access by self-archiving digital copies of it in either central, subject or institutionally-based online repositories. That said it is also worth noting a further nuance in the understanding of open access, something that has been introduced recently in the name of greater accuracy and precision. This concerns a distinction that at times needs to be made between what is termed gratis OA and libre OA. Gratis OA is where the obstacle of cost, and only the obstacle of cost, has been taken out of the equation, so that access to research published gratis OA is freely available (as in ‘free beer’). In libre OA, meanwhile, not only has the obstacle of cost been removed, one or more of the barriers concerning the permissions that need to be sought to copy, reproduce or distribute a given text have been removed too. Yet these last two terms are really only necessary when one wants to differentiate explicitly between open access that is gratis and libre. For the most part it is just the term open access, and within that, Gold and Green open access, that is used (Suber, 2008).

A number of different arguments have been put forward as to why academics should make their research – which they may also be due to publish in a journal or with a publisher of their own choosing, if they have not already done so - freely available open access, not only to other universities, but also to colleges, research institutes, schools, public libraries, community centres and the general public alike, on a world-wide basis.  They include:

          the economic argument: that taxpayers should not have to pay twice for the same research - once to fund academics to carry it out, and then again a second time to access it in the form of library or journal subscriptions, book cover prices, photocopying charges and so on;

          the moral argument: that our ‘commitment to the value and quality of research carries with it a responsibility to extend the circulation of this work as far as possible, and ideally to all who are interested in it’, including those who live in less affluent parts of the world, rather than restricting access to our research merely to those who can afford it, as we often do now (Willinsky, 2006: 5);

          the healthy democratic public sphere argument: that doing so helps to create a healthy democracy by working to break down barriers between the academic community and the rest of society and so supplying the public with the information they need to make knowledgeable decisions and actively contribute to political debate;

          the gift economy argument: that it assists in establishing a radical, new kind of economy in which knowledge and goods are circulated as gifts rather than as commodities to be bought and sold.

The Culture Machine journal has been (Gold) open access from its inception in 1999. Culture Machine is completely free for authors to publish in: we do not charge for peer reviewing or operate a pay-to-publish policy, for instance. Its contents are also free for readers to access, view and download (i.e. there are no subscription charges). More recently, Culture Machine has joined the likes of arXiv, SSRN (Social Science Research Network),  CiteSeerX, RePEc (Research Papers in Economics), PubMed Central, and the European Research Paper Archive in providing a Green open access repository, launching in 2006 what is still to our knowledge the only such archive for research and publications in cultural studies and cultural theory.  This, too, is free for authors to publish in and for readers to access and download from. So Culture Machine could be said to have played a small part in the move toward making research available open access which has slowly begun to take place in the humanities over the last few years. It is a move which in the UK has seen the AHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council) and the ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council) recently adopt open access self-archiving mandates which require the researchers they fund to make copies of any resulting articles they publish in journals or conference proceedings available on an open access platform.  Similar mandates have been introduced by Southampton and Stirling Universities, among others. Meanwhile the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University in the US has gone even further. Their mandate requires staff not only to make the scholarly articles they write available open access, but to assign copyright control over to the President and Fellows of Harvard in order to facilitate doing so. 

Still, such recent developments notwithstanding, it is in the scientific, technical and medical fields (STMs) that open access has been advocated and fought for longest and hardest. And of course researchers in the STMs have developed a very different set of professional cultures to those in the humanities (see Hall, 2008: 222-224; Suber, 2004). In what follows I want to highlight some of the most important of these differences, and point to a few of the challenges the so-called open access ‘movement’ - if it can indeed be thought of as a movement - is likely to face as it gradually comes to impact on the humanities and as the humanities in turn come to impact on it. 

The Future of... Academic Book Publishing

One of the major differences between the STMs and the humanities is the greater emphasis the latter place on books. As I mentioned earlier, to date, open access to research and publications has been developed and promoted most extensively in the sciences (which is why many of you reading this may not be familiar with open access - yet). As a result, the movement toward open access has so far concentrated on what is the most valued mode of publication in that field: the peer-reviewed journal article. By contrast, in the humanities – although there are of course differences between disciplines – it is books published by respected international presses, and monographs especially, that tend to be the most prestigious. (To provide some very quick figures: it was recently reported that whereas in the sciences 96% of submissions to the UK’s 2001 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) were journal articles, only 37% took that form in the arts and humanities (Caldwell, 2008).) As open access is gradually taken up in the humanities it is therefore likely to be accompanied by a far greater emphasis on making books freely available online in this manner too.   What is more, this is so despite the fact that research structures originating with the sciences, including bibliometric indices, journal impact factors, citation counts and other quantitive statistical indicators, are increasingly being imposed on the humanities as part of the decision-making process when setting research policies, allocating funding and awarding grants.  Indeed, I would argue that the open access movement has to place more emphasis on books, otherwise its impact on the humanities will ultimately prove negligible - unless, that is, the RAE’s switch to the REF (Research Excellence Framework) and metrics produces a sea change in the field that leads to articles in high-ranking journals suddenly being privileged over monographs as the ‘gold standard’. Such a sea change does not seem very likely at the moment, however. Besides, even if the situation changed in the UK in this respect, it would not necessarily do so in the humanities elsewhere in the world where books are also regarded as the most valued form of publication.

It is not the case, either, that the authors of these books are unlikely to consent to making their work available for free open access. Authors of academic journal articles are presented within debates around open access as being willing to give their research away because their income does not come from the royalties and fees they are paid in exchange for their writings. Instead, their income is derived more indirectly: from how much their texts are read, referenced and engaged with by others, as this can in turn lead to an increase in the level of their reputation, influence, impact and esteem, and thus to greater opportunities for career advancement, promotion, pay rises, consultancies, funding, grants and so forth. Consequently, they are perceived as being perfectly happy to publish in open access journals and repositories. Not only are they not losing out financially by doing so, they actually have the potential to make significant gains, since the evidence from the sciences is that publishing open access can increase the amount a text is read and cited by as much as four times. 

Book authors by comparison have been portrayed as always seeking royalties or fees in exchange for their writings, and thus as being unwilling (or legally unable, for reasons we will come to later) to give their research away for free in an open access form. This is another reason the open access movement to date has not focused too much on the self-archiving of books: because books ‘are not, and never will be, author give-aways’, as the open access advocate Stevan Harnad puts it (2001/2003). Yet in the UK academic titles in the humanities often only achieve sales of somewhere between 200 and 600 copies. This is thanks in no small part to:

a.         what has been called the ‘crisis in scholarly publishing’, as economic factors have led many publishers to move away from producing monographs and even edited collections of new research to concentrate on readers, introductions and reference works instead;

b.         the associated shift to publishing books in hard-back only – which often cost £50/$99 a copy or more, and which very few people except institutional libraries and the author’s family and friends are likely to buy;

c.         short print runs;

d.         the closing of independent book shops due to fierce rivalry from online bookstores such as Amazon.com at one end of the market and the large supermarkets such as Tesco and Asda at the other;

e.         the fact that the major high-street book chains are increasingly loath to take academic titles - not just journals but books too. Indeed, as one UK-based publishing director has written, whereas in the 1990s it was the large chain bookshops such as Waterstones ‘that set the tone for the trade, now the supermarkets do. It is because supermarkets lead the way that [ex-Page 3 glamour model] Katie Price’s volume of memoirs, Jordan: A Whole New World [which of course she didn’t write – it was written by her ghost writer Rebecca Farnworth], sold more copies in hardback than any other autobiography published outside the Christmas season [in 2007] and [comedian] Peter Kay’s The Sound of Laughter was the best selling autobiography ever in hardback’ in the UK. Meanwhile ‘difficult’ and challenging books, including not just academic texts but even serious novels often sell only a couple of hundred copies (Booth, 2008: 42).

So very few book authors actually have much in the way of royalties to lose. Like ‘royalty-free authors’, they are primarily writing for impact. This means open access has the potential to be extremely attractive to the so-called for-profit, royalty-fee authors of academic books in the humanities, too, as such authors also stand to gain from the increase in potential readers and exposure that ‘giving away’ their work open access can bring.

The Future of... the Peer-Reviewed Journal

Another crucial difference between the STMs and the humanities is that scholars in the latter are far more likely to regard themselves as writers. As a result they frequently view their texts not merely as vehicles for conveying their ideas but as pieces of writing in themselves. In other words the actual writing and performance of the language often really matters here; it is not just a neutral means of passing on research. As more scholars in the humanities publish open access, we are therefore likely to see an even greater interest in exploring different ways of writing and communicating online, many of which may raise difficult questions for the conventional means of maintaining academic authority and professional legitimacy.

Take one of the most important ways in which academic authority is currently maintained: peer review. Interestingly, many advocates of open access in the scientific, technical and medical fields are self-confessed conservatives when it comes to peer review (e.g. Harnad, 2000). This is partly strategic on their part. It is a means of combating one of the main arguments levelled against open access by publisher trade associations and lobbyists: that if governments adopt open access policies it will undermine peer review (Suber, 2007a). And, to be fair, many in the humanities also set great store by peer review. For them, too, if electronically reproduced texts are positioned as being beyond the reassuring control of the classical systems of peer review, then they will appear unreliable, their quality unfiltered, unconstrained, unpoliced, unknown.  Others are inclined to view such conservativism as part of the attempt by a group to maintain a certain identity, authority and self-control ‘in the face of an[other] extremely dynamic, unsettling, and powerful reorganization and transformation of society’ (Weber, 1987: 27). One significant means by which the humanities may come to impact on the open access movement in the future, then, is through the very openness of some of those in the field to the challenge to academic authority and professional legitimacy presented by digital modes of reproduction.

What is more, such openness is not just a matter of being willing to explore less traditional forms of peer review. Numerous models of the latter are currently available. They include, in the STMs, those represented by:

          chemistry.org/exchange, a repository  of what is billed as ‘user-driven scientific content’ that allows a community of users to submit, share, vote, and comment on academic articles;

          Journal of Interactive Media in Education, which runs an open peer-review process consisting of three stages: a first stage of  preprint under private, open peer review by three named reviewers; a second stage of preprint publication which is open to public peer review for a period of one month; and then, finally, publication itself, which is often followed by further discussion and commentary on the part of authors and readers;

          BioMed Central’s Faculty of 1000,  which highlights and evaluates the most interesting and important papers in biology and medicine based on the recommendations of 1000 leading international scientists as judged according to merit of the particular article rather than the journal in which it appears. 

The challenge to professional legitimacy represented by the humanities goes much further than this. It involves a certain readiness to address, and in some cases embrace (rather than repress, deny or ignore), and even performatively assume, the effects of the ambivalences and paradoxes in academic authority that lie at the heart of much of the open access community’s defence of peer review to date.

Let me explain. In both the Green and the Gold roads to open access quality control is generally maintained by having established academic journals provide the peer review. (Again, this is possible largely because the movement toward open access has concentrated primarily on the most valued mode of publication in the scientific, technical and medical fields: the peer reviewed journal article.) In the Gold Road this occurs as part of the process of being published in a refereed open access journal. However quality control is maintained in much the same manner in the Green Road to open access. Here, too, in order for a text to be considered as being of an accepted and certified quality it usually has to go through the process of peer review that is supplied by an established journal. This is because at the moment peer review is not a service that is provided by most open access self-archiving repositories. The latter are rather online archives where academics deposit research which in the main has already been peer-reviewed and published elsewhere, or which is due to be.   So while the process of peer review can take place in the Green Road either before a version of the text is deposited in an open access repository, or afterwards (and while, in contrast to the Gold Road, the journal supplying the peer review can be either open access or non-open access), peer review by an established journal still needs to occur if an article is to be considered as being of a certified quality.

The problem arises because, since online publishing is still reasonably new, most electronic journals which want to be recognised as being professionally legitimate have endeavoured to wrap themselves in an aura of academic authority by simulating their ink-on-paper counterparts. They have done this in their ‘page’ layouts, divisions and designs; their arrangement of these pages into ‘papers’ or ‘essays’, written in a linear form complete with footnotes and bibliographies, and attributed to clearly identified (human) authors; their collection of these papers into ‘volumes’ and ‘issues’ and so on. Indeed, if a journal wants to apply for inclusion in the Thomson Scientific Web of Science - which academic journals in many fields need to do if they wish to be regarded as being of a certain quality – I would argue it more or less has to imitate an ink-on-paper publication, such is the nature of the criteria for inclusion in the Web of Science.  (All of which goes some way toward explaining why it is still relatively rare to find an established online-only academic journal which is generally perceived to be of a good standard whose contents cannot be reproduced for the most part as hard copy.) As a result of this ‘paratechnological’ mimicry, however, what the reliance on established peer-reviewed journals for quality control in both the Green and the Gold Roads means, in effect, is that the majority of open access academic texts are being restricted to a form that can be reproduced, at least potentially, on paper.  Quite simply, it is only by adopting this form that they are able to pass through the peer review processes of such papercentric journals successfully. Moreover, as I have made clear elsewhere, this is the case no matter whether this happens directly, by going through the ‘peer-review service that is provided by an actual paper journal, or indirectly, via that of an online-only journal “of known quality”. Although the medium of the latter may be digital’ - and although it may incorporate a range of electronic features that prosthetically enhance and expand the conventional papercentric journal format, such as archives, discussion forums, multimedia components, controls for personalizing format and content,  automatic alerting and translation services, and sophisticated citation, indexing, searching, linking and tracking facilities - the authority and legitimacy of the journal itself still has its basis in, and is largely derived from, the hard copy, ink-on-paper world, with everything this implies for its conceptions of the academic author, the journal, the ‘paper’, intellectual property, copyright, piracy and so forth (Hall, 2008: 61).

There is thus something of a contradiction at the heart of much of the open access community’s defence of peer review, and especially the reliance on established journals of an acknowledged quality and standing to provide it. On the one hand, they are urging the academy to take advantage of the many benefits that are offered by the electronic reproduction of scholarship and research. These include, in addition to those detailed above: the ability to operate on a ‘zero budget (with volunteer copyediting and proofreading)’ (Willinsky, 2005: 120); automate ‘many of the management and clerical tasks of journal publishing, improving record-keeping while reducing management time, as well as eliminating photocopying, postage, and stationary costs, not to mention printing, distribution, and subscription-management expenses’ (Willinsky, 2005: 133, n.5); and involve ‘a wider range of editors’ as the offices for journals can be ‘virtually located everywhere’ (Willinsky, 2005: 132).   On the other, in order to retain control of all this automation and ensure such virtuality does not get out of hand, to the point where texts and their authors might appear unknown, unfiltered, uncertified, unaccredited and unaccountable, they are insisting on continuing to employ methods of maintaining academic authority that have their roots firmly in print culture. While they have adapted to digital culture to a certain extent, then, not least with the move toward open access, other aspects of digital culture, especially those that risk bringing their own authority and legitimacy into question, have either been marginalised or ignored, or else they have been attacked and condemned as not being serious, proper, legitimate and so on.

Now, for me, a very interesting and important set of questions arises at this point when it comes to thinking about some of the changes that are likely to take place over the next three, five or even ten years. For I cannot help wondering what the academy is going to do as more and more academics produce texts that are never destined to be published in ink-on-paper form at all, but are ‘born digital’ and so created and published straight on the web, and are not therefore necessarily reproducible or even recognisable as texts in the ink-on-paper sense. Let me give as an example one of the projects featured in this ‘Pirate Philosophy’ issue of Culture Machine.

Liquid Theory TV is a collaborative project I am working on with Clare Birchall and Pete Woodbridge to develop a series of IPTV programmes.  The name IPTV is derived from internet protocol packet-switching and stands for Internet Protocol TeleVision. In its broadest sense IPTV is the term for all those techniques which use computer networks to deliver audio-visual programming. YouTube can be thought of as an emerging grass-roots IPTV system, for instance, especially as its audience increasingly uses it to distribute audio-visual content they have created, rather than merely sharing their favourite video clips from films and TV programmes that have been produced by others (Pesce, 2007). IPTV is rapidly coming to rival the main terrestrial and satellite broadcasters.  In fact many see it as having the potential to affect the audio-visual media industries as profoundly as the web is currently affecting those associated with print media. 

The reason we wanted to experiment with producing an IPTV programme is because it seems to us that Britain at the moment contains surprisingly few spaces open to the dissemination of what, for shorthand, might be referred to as ‘intellectual’ ideas. The mainstream media are predominantly liberal, humanist, middle-brow and journalistic in approach, their discussions of art, science and culture being primarily opinion-based and focused on biographical details. (I’m still waiting for an edition of The South Bank Show devoted to the philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas, or a discussion of Giorgio Agamben and biopolitics to feature on Newsnight Review.) Meanwhile, as we have seen, publishers are barely producing books for third year undergraduate students, let alone research monographs aimed at other scholars. There thus seems to be a need to invent new ways of communicating intellectual ideas both ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ of the university. We wanted to explore IPTV’s potential for this, and for doing so relatively easily and cheaply: not so much because we believe academics should try to find means of connecting with audiences outside the institution, audiences that scholarly books and journals cannot (or can no longer) reach,  but because different forms of communication ‘do different things’ and ‘have the potential for different effectivities’ - even for leading us to conceive what we do as academics differently (Wise, 2006: 241).

Of course IPTV is still at a very early stage of development, for all the popularity of shows such as Diggnation.  Yet what if it does end up doing for the BBC and SKY what Google and Yahoo! are doing for newspapers and magazines? What if more and more academics come to use this new medium, not just for promotion and recruitment purposes, but for actually publishing and distributing their research: because it enables scholars to make their work freely available to large numbers of people beyond the immediate sphere of their academic peers (thus helping to meet the demands of funding councils such as the AHRC for ‘knowledge transfer’ and research that is ‘widely disseminated’ to ‘other non-academic audiences’);  and, what is more, to do so on a global basis, extremely quickly and cheaply, without the kind of delays that publishing in the ink-on-paper format can involve, and without requiring these scholars to convince a publisher their work will sell first. How then are such programmes to be regarded? Granted, it might be argued that as long as academics do not endeavour to pass off their involvement with IPTV as being equivalent to peer reviewed research then there is not too much of an issue. The matter takes on a definite urgency, however, when the question of hiring and promotion comes into play. In the future, can academics who disseminate their research via IPTV expect to have it taken into account when it comes to hiring, promotion and being included in research assessment exercises, just as those who currently publish in books and journals can? Or will such research be discounted on the grounds of its being somehow less serious and legitimate? And if so, with what authority? According to which system of review and classification? Because it appears in a (‘born digital’) form that is not a mimicry of ink-on-paper, and is therefore more difficult to judge, certify and legitimise by the established papercentric processes of peer review than journal articles? If this is the case, what is going to happen when a new generation of media transliterate scholars emerges out of the ranks of those students who have grown up communicating on a variety of media platforms and who are consequently literate in many different forms of communication and technology and want to do things like IPTV PhDs? (A recent investigation of the impact of the ‘Google generation’ on higher education, for instance, is reported as having found that already ‘95 per cent of students are members of an online social network and that more than 50 per cent have a blog or website’ (Fearn, 2008: 38).) In the future will we still be able to insist on using what is in effect a pre-digital system of maintaining academic authority and professional legitimacy, derived from the traits of writing or printing on paper, to control our knowledge-base and provide it with validation and certification?

I am not suggesting any such shift away from purely papercentric modes of scholarly communication, publication and distribution is necessarily going to signal the end of the academic journal as we know it, nor of peer review - both of which, I should stress, continue to be used to provide quality control with regards to the Green and Gold roads to open access. Nor is it a matter for me of replacing the old publishing and peer-review system of filtering first and then publishing with no system at all and just putting everything on the internet without any filtering whatsoever  (although it may on occasion involve publishing first and then filtering). Certainly none of what I have said here is intended to advocate an anarchist or libertarian ideology. (It is a libertarian ideology, for example, that Adrian Johns presents in this issue as historically underpinning the emphasis on freedom in the ‘heavily moralised’ philosophies of many of the more extreme advocates of distributed creativity and media openness and piracy today.)  In the longer term, however, as more and more academics come to take advantage of the many benefits that are offered by electronic modes of reproduction, I suspect such a shift will at the very least involve us in having to devise new mechanisms for maintaining 'quality control'; mechanisms that do not approach digitally (re)produced research as if it were more or less a prosthetic extension and enhancement of print. Instead, standards, procedures and criteria will need to be developed which are capable of responding adequately, rigorously and responsibly to the specificity of texts that are born digital.

What is more, this is so not just with regard to academic IPTV programmes but all those different forms of scholarly writing, publishing and communication which may eventually come to exist alongside and supplement, if not replace, the conventional ink-on-paper book and journal formats. I am thinking of those currently associated with academic blogs, wikis, social networking sites, peer-to-peer file-sharing networks and environments such as Second Life, as well as others not yet envisaged or imagined. New forms of review, validation and certification will need to be developed which are capable of responding responsibly to the specificity of these particular species of media, too. (And this is without even beginning to consider what digital media might look like when the dominance of technological communication tools which have their origins in the paper world, such as the computer keyboard and printer, finally comes to an end.)

The Future of... the Author

More than that, though, I would argue that any such shift away from purely papercentric modes of reproduction, publication and distribution and toward the digital offers us a chance to raise precisely the sort of radical questions concerning authorship, academic authority, professional legitimacy and peer review we should have been asking all along, even before the invention of digital means of reproduction.  Take the idea of the author. Here, again, is there not something rather contradictory and paradoxical about the open access community’s continued maintenance of the romantic idea of the clearly identifiable and nameable (human) individual to whom the creation of texts can be attributed (not least through the provision and searching of interoperable metadata)? On the one hand, supporters of open access are stressing the many benefits that are offered to scholars by the electronic reproduction of research and publications - including the ability to deploy ‘innovative tools’ which provide readers with a ‘richer context for reading’ (Willinsky, 2005: 132 ) by enabling them ‘to check their reading of a piece, with a click or two, against what is being said in related work, to gather background on the author, as well as view other works, and to trace the ideas presented through other forms, whether among media databases, government policies or historical archives’ (Willinsky, 2005: 129). Yet, on the other, in order to maintain a certain academic identity, authority and control over all these links and connections to other texts, tools, databases, archives, search engines and media, they are insisting on continuing to employ a concept which is intricately tied to print culture: that of the author. Indeed, for all that John Willinsky has positioned open access, and ‘greater access to journals in the Humanities’ in particular, as ‘both a critical and practical step toward the unconditional university imagined by Derrida’ in his essay ‘The Future of the Profession or the Unconditional University’, I would maintain that the open access movement is actually rather conditional (Willinsky, 2005: 121; Derrida, 2001). It may promote the ‘right to speak and to resist unconditionally everything’ that concerns the restriction of access to knowledge, research and thought. However, the open access movement does so for the most part only on condition that the ‘right to say everything’ about a whole host of other questions and issues is not (and may not be) exercised - and this includes those that concern the author function (as well as a number of others Derrida insisted on writing and speaking about, such as the proper name and the signature, to cite but two).

The advantage to the scientific, technical and medical fields of being conditional in this manner is obvious, since as we know from the work of at least Roland Barthes onwards, to ‘give a text an Author is to impose a limit on that text, ...to close the writing’ (1984: 147). Being able to attribute a text to a clearly named and identifiable individual human author or group of authors is thus another way of protecting the institution from descending into what would be perceived as chaos. It is a means of making sure the digital reproduction of scholarship and research does not present too much of a challenge to academic authority and professional legitimacy. In fact one could go so far as to say that science itself depends on the imposition of limits of this kind, since to refuse to close and fix the meaning of a text by means of concepts such as the author ‘is, in the end, to refuse God and his hypostases – reason, science, law’ (Barthes, 1984: 147).

I have written before about how ‘the very web-like structure of the Web often makes it difficult to determine where texts end—or begin, for that matter’; and about how many forms of electronic media have the ability to expand and destabilize not just the apparently fixed and frozen boundaries separating the text from its surroundings, its material support, or from other media and cultural texts, but also those boundaries separating authors, editors, producers, consumers, humans and machines (and all the more so in the era of the semantic web and Web 3.0, I might add). While all this expansion and destabilization may sound fairly inconsequential, I quoted Jean-Claude Guédon’s comment to the effect that, actually, it puts the whole idea of the academic author at risk, since ‘scholars and researchers stake their career on... objects endowed with stability relative to time and place’, an apparent ‘physical stability’ and ‘guarantee of permanence’ that is lost for the most part in the electronic medium (Guédon & Beaudry, 1996; Hall, 2008: 66-67).  For all the conditionality of much of the open access community, could we not now say that any such shift as I have described in this essay, away from the purely papercentric and toward the digital, even has the potential to finally bring about the ‘death of the author’, or its disappearance, as Michel Foucault prefers to think of it (Foucault, 1984: 102)?  

I must confess to having no strong attachment to the idea of the author. Still, as a concept the author is too tied up with discourses intrinsic to modernity, liberal democracy and to late capitalism – those concerning the subject, the individual, the human and so forth – for me to be confident it is going to be dramatically effaced anytime soon (for all the current global economic crisis). A lot of other things will have to change as well before we see the demise of the author as we currently know it.  Nevertheless, as open access is taken up by the humanities, and especially as more and more battles against publisher lobbyists are won, we will, I believe, witness increasing attempts to creatively interrogate and experiment with ideas of the academic author as individual genius; to loosen them so that they become less fixed and rigid, and may be performed differently.

We are already seeing something of this kind in the shape of those texts co-authored by large groups of often anonymous people (from a certain perspective at least) using free content and open editing principles.  Wikipedia is by far the best known example of such wi-media, but in an academic context there are also projects such as Connexions, which is part of the Open-Education movement. Connexions is using Free and Open Source software, open content and open editing to produce textbooks for teaching along with other educational resources, such as course notes. It is ‘globally accessible to anyone to not only read and use [their] materials, but also take them, make them [their] own, and contribute them back to the repository’.

The experimental artist Mark Amerika offers another example of an attempt to perform the role of the academic author differently in the shape of the mash-up he has produced for this ‘Pirate Philosophy’ edition of Culture Machine. Called ‘Source Material Everywhere’, his piece remixes the philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead with the talk-poetry of the avant-garde artist David Antin to produce what Amerika calls an artistic/philosophical poetics that explores the idea of the author as digital persona and ‘postproduction medium’. 

Of course, in some areas of art and culture this idea of sampling and remixing the work of others to the point where authorship is explicitly decentered and distributed across a multiplicity of subjects and objects is far from new.  The music industry has a relatively long track record in this respect, for instance, as Kembrew McLeod makes clear in his contribution to ‘Pirate Philosophy’.  In fact the remix and sound collage are art forms of which the KLF - the particular object of McLeod’s concern here – and Negativland, another of our contributors, are both pioneering practitioners.  The technique of sampling the work of others has also been used extensively in the cinema. Thus Alexander Galloway, in his essay on Guy Debord in this issue, describes how the situationist philosopher and filmmaker, in his sixth and final film In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni (1978): incorporated footage stolen from Hollywood scenes of epic pitched battles. One such film sampled by Debord was Michael Curtiz's The Charge of the Light Brigade of 1936, a movie adapted from the Tennyson poem of the same name, which itself mythologized the notorious and bloody defeat of the British Cavalry in 1854 during the Crimean War... As Debord wrote later with only a hint of irony, ‘in a very heavy-handed and congratulatory way, The Charge of the Light Brigade could possibly "represent" a dozen years of interventions by the Situationist International!'  

Interestingly - especially in the light of Debord’s comment above - websites such as Jumpcut and RemixAmerica.org now provide the means to produce and share video remixes and mash-ups to anyone with access to the internet.  As the open access movement continues to grow, and humanities scholars become progressively accustomed to writing, communicating and publishing online, taking advantage of the many above-described benefits of doing so, it is hard to imagine others will not join Amerika and increasingly explore the potential remixing and sampling hold for the production of academic texts, too.

‘Pirate Philosophy’ contains one further effort to think and, indeed, actually perform the idea of the academic author differently and otherwise.  New Cultural Studies: The Liquid Theory Reader is another project put together by Clare Birchall and myself.  It constitutes an attempt on our part precisely to experiment with ‘authoring’ an academic book in a decentered, distributed fashion. The project came about as a result of a publisher asking us to produce a follow-up to our 2006 woodware edited collection New Cultural Studies (Hall & Birchall, 2006). This follow-up was to be a reader gathering together and making easily accessible a number of important texts by some of the theorists discussed in our earlier volume. While conceding such a reader might have a certain usefulness, it nevertheless seemed to us that to turn the idea of ‘new cultural studies’ into a fixed and stable concept or brand like this would be to miss the point of what we and our fellow contributors were trying to achieve with that book. New Cultural Studies was motivated by our commitment to a performative cultural studies, and emphasis on the need for cultural studies to experiment with creating events and new forms of practice, action and organisation. So, rather than produce New Cultural Studies II: Yet More New Cultural Studies, we decided to put together what we are calling a ‘liquid book’ instead. What we have done is gathered texts by some of the theorists discussed in New Cultural Studies, together with some by authors we would include if we were to produce a second ink-on-paper volume: thinkers such as Maurizio Lazzarato, N. Katherine Hayles, Jean-Luc Nancy and Isabelle Stengers. Rather than publishing this as a printed paper book, however, we are publishing it online as New Cultural Studies: The Liquid Theory Reader.

Publishing a book in this manner allows us to challenge some of the physical and conceptual limitations of the traditional edited codex book, not least by including more (and less) than just book chapters and journal articles, as is normally the case with readers. We also have the freedom to include whole books within our liquid book. And not just that but short extracts and samples from books, too, along with pages, snippets, references, annotations, links, tags, even podcasts and YouTube clips.

At the same time this experiment provides an opportunity for us to creatively explore some of the limitations and possibilities of the general move toward publishing and disseminating academic research online, what with the open access movement, the introduction of the REF and bibliometrics, Google Book Search (most of New Cultural Studies is already available to read online for free via Google),  the development of hand-held digital book readers such as the Sony Reader or Amazon's Kindle (which, because a single one of these wireless devices can be used to read a library’s worth of titles, are perceived as being far more environmentally friendly than buying lots of books made out of dead trees),  and the fact that students are now able to access most journals for free (which means they are reluctant to pay for books, even if they can afford to).  All of which suggests that the standard print-on-paper reader may soon be in decline anyway, and increasingly supplemented (if not entirely replaced) by the more fluid versions that online publishing makes possible. 

Furthermore, we are making this ‘book’ available not just open access but under open editing and free content conditions too. The New Cultural Studies Reader is ‘liquid’ in the sense that not only is it freely available for anyone to read, reproduce and distribute, its initial iteration is also open and accessible to users on a read/write basis. So they can add to, annotate, tag, edit, remix, reformat, reversion, remake, reinvent and reuse it however they wish. The idea is for this ‘book’ – along with subsequent versions and remixes of it – to be produced in an open, collaborative, co-operative, decentralised, multi-user-generated fashion: not just by us, its initial ‘authors’, ‘editors’ or ‘creators’, but by a swarm of collaborators distributed around the world in disparate locations. In the process it is hoped that all sorts of important and interesting questions will be raised for ideas of academic authorship, the proper name, attribution, publication, citation, accreditation, fair use, quality control, peer review, copyright, intellectual property, content creation and cultural studies.

Of course we are aware ‘liquid’ is a popular metaphor these days: Zygmunt Bauman has written about ‘liquid modernity’ and ‘liquid love’, while others influenced by Bauman have written on ‘liquid education’ (Bauman, 2000; 2003; Savin-Baden, 2007).   However, we would not want to subscribe to the nostalgia of much of Bauman’s work, evident in his idea that we have moved from a form of modernity characterised by gradual transformations and more fixed and solid structures, to a more liquid form characterised by uncertainty and rapidity of change. We see our use of ‘liquid theory’ more in terms of trying to create an event in the environment that this project is both describing and participating in; or otherwise destabilizing some of the frozen and solidified structures and conventions of academic research and scholarly publishing, so that more rigorous and responsible (ethical and political) decisions may be taken regarding ideas of the author, peer review, intellectual property and so on, and new, different institutions, structures and conventions put in their place. Indeed, one of the reasons we are so interested in experimenting with different performances of authorship is because doing so may be a way of encouraging a change in the discourses of the subject, the individual, the human and so forth. To borrow the words of Alain Badiou, ‘What imposes the invention of a new discourse and of a subjectivity… is precisely that it is only by means of such invention that the event finds a welcome and an existence in language. For established languages, it is inadmissible because it is genuinely unnameable’ (Badiou, 2003: 46).

In this respect there is something in the ambiguity, flexibility, riskiness, uncertainty and contestable boundaries Bauman associates with liquid modernity that we might want to draw on. Rather than view this ‘liquidity’ negatively as some kind of fall from the reassurance provided by a supposedly more fixed and solid world, however, we would want to maintain that it has a more affirmative, positive potential in that it provides us with an opportunity to enact ideas of authorship, knowledge, authority, expertise and so on differently and otherwise - as Mark Amerika is clearly doing with his project, too. This is what I meant earlier when I referred to a certain readiness on the part of some of those in the humanities to embrace and performatively assume or, better, endure the effects of those ambivalences and paradoxes that make academic authority and professional legitimacy possible, rather than just passively repeating and perpetuating them.

The Future of... Intellectual Property

Even if they are not yet ready to go quite this far my hope is that, at the very least, experiments of the kind I have described above may encourage certain actors within the open access community to be a little bolder and more adventurous in the future when it comes to issues around intellectual property. Of course, distinguishing open access from piracy, peer-to-peer file sharing and so forth has, along with peer review, been a(nother) way of trying to provide the former with an aura of professional legitimacy. ‘It is a mistake to regard OA as Napster for science’, Peter Suber writes. ‘For copyrighted works, OA is always voluntary, even if it is one of the conditions of a voluntary contract, such as an employment or funding contract. There is no vigilante OA, no infringing, expropriating, or piratical OA’ (Suber, 2006).  And, to be fair, I should stress that this attitude is far from confined to those currently associated with either open access or the scientific, technical and medical fields. Even among the most radical critics of our present intellectual property regimes in the humanities, there has been a clear reluctance to associate academic online publishing with anything that smacks of ‘piracy’ or which might result in a ‘cease and desist’ or takedown notice from a publisher or copyright holder.

An article by McKenzie Wark provides a case in point (2007). Writing in an issue of Open devoted to the topic of the regulation and privatization of intellectual property, Wark addresses the very obvious contradiction involved in his having producing a book on hacking, A Hacker Manifesto (2004), and yet having published it with an established press, Harvard, who refused to budge on the issue of copyright and allow Wark to freely distribute his text on the internet as part of the digital gift economy according to either copygift or copyleft principles. Not surprisingly, this created some trouble and confusion for a writer whose book expresses sentiments such as ‘information wants to be free but is everywhere in chains’ (2004: #126). Wark’s solution was to a. live with the contradictions between commodity and gift culture to a certain extent and, b. adopt the tactic of carrying a flash memory stick with him to speaking events so that those who wanted a post-print copy of A Hacker Manifesto could get one from him personally. Yet in doing so Wark was careful to get the agreement of those individuals he gave a copy to that they would not make this post-print available on the Internet. His only other proviso was that they should provide him with their email address. This enabled Wark to create a new network of social relations around the book, which for him is the fundamental point of the digital gift economy (rather than, say, any critique of the law of intellectual property, copyright, fair use and so on a la Lawrence Lessig and Creative Commons).  Still, this highly personal and idiosyncratic method of distributing  A Hacker Manifesto does not resolve the problem Wark identifies: namely, that of how to meet an author’s desire to have their work distributed to, respected and read by as many readers as possible - the kind of thing a quality ‘brand name’ press such as Harvard can provide - while at the same time partaking in the digital gift economy whereby research is circulated for free rather than as a market commodity that is to be bought and sold.

Nor does the open access movement as it currently stands provide an obvious or straightforward solution to this dilemma. For there is a significant difference as far as open access is concerned between journal and book publishing. As is pointed out on the Self-Archiving FAQ for the Budapest Open Access Initiative on the Eprints website:

Where exclusive copyright has been assigned by the author to a journal publisher for a peer reviewed draft, copy-edited and accepted for publication by that journal, then that draft may not be self-archived by the author (without the publisher's permission). The pre-refereeing preprint, however, has already been (legally) self-archived. (No copyright transfer agreement existed at that time, for that draft.) (Self-Archiving FAQ, written for the Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI) 2002-4: non-pag.)

This is how open access eludes many of the problems associated with copyright or licensing restrictions with regard to journal articles. But ‘where exclusive copyright in a "work for hire" has been transferred by the author to a publisher – i.e., the author has been paid (or will be paid royalties) in exchange for the text’, as is often the case in book publishing – it may well be that the author is not legally allowed to self-archive it. This is because, although the ‘text is still the author's "intellectual property", … the exclusive right to sell or give away copies of it has been transferred to the publisher’ (BOAI, 2002-4: non-pag.).

So what are an author’s options if their publisher’s policy, licence or copyright agreement does not allow them to self-archive their book? There are a number of possibilities, including the following:

1.         They can publish non-open access and wait until all editions of their book go out of print before asking for the rights to revert back to them as the author. Many publishers will allow this after a certain period, often a year or more. (This is one of the potential problems with print-on-demand publishing. Since it may mean that their book in effect never goes out of print, ownership, duplication and derivation rights might never revert back to authors from their publishers, regardless of whether their publishers are interested in continuing to promote and support their book or not.)

2.         If the book in question was published before 1996, they could simply make the full text of it available open access anyway. Some have argued that it should be possible to make all research published previous to that date open access, as before 1996 no publisher’s policy, licence or copyright agreement would have contained a reference to the regulation of dissemination through digital means.

3.         They could decline any offer to sign a contract that awards copyright or an exclusive license to a publisher, and decide to publish only with those who will bring their book out on a non-exclusive basis.

4.         They could decide to publish only with an open access publisher – such as Australian National University’s ANU E Press, Bloomsbury Academic, re.press, Rice University Press, University of Tennessee’s Newfound Press, Athabasca University’s AU Press, California University Press’s Flashpoints series, or the ‘digitalculturebooks’  project of the University of Michigan Press and the Scholarly Publishing Office of Michigan’s University Library. 

5.         They could contact their publisher to ask if they can publish their book online. Some publishers - Cambridge University Press, for example - will now allow authors to deposit preliminary or representative book chapters in the repositories of the institutions where they work. Some will even allow authors to modify their copyright transfer agreement forms in advance of publication to permit the self-archiving of the full text, the post-prints or the pre-prints. Indeed, many journal publishers certainly, and a small though slowly increasing number of book publishers too, can be persuaded to release full texts for self-archiving at some stage once the volume in question has been published: both because texts that are made available for free online frequently achieve larger sales figures than those that are not; but also because after a certain date sales habitually drop and so most texts have no real monetary value – even in the humanities, where they tend to have a longer tail regarding how much they are purchased, accessed and read than in the STMs.  

6.         Possibly the shrewdest strategy of all, however, would be to adopt a variation of that promoted on the Self-Archiving FAQ for the Budapest Open Access Initiative (at least with regard to journal articles). It is described there as being the ‘one that the physicists have been successfully practicing since 1991 and computer scientists have been practicing since even earlier’. This is simply ‘“don't-ask/don't-tell”’. Instead, self-archive the full text – of your book in this case - the ‘preprint as well as your postprint, and wait to see whether the publisher ever requests removal’ (BOAI, 2002-4: non-pag.).

The Future of... Piracy

If enough authors adopt this latter ‘“don't-ask/don't-tell”’ strategy, it is going to be no easier for publishers to prevent than it has been for the music industry to put a stop to peer-to-peer file-sharing. Even if publishers do respond to such ventures by getting together and agreeing between themselves to try to actively thwart the full texts of books being made available open access, there is an argument for academics to cut out the middle-men and women of the publishing industry and to take over the means of production and publish their own work for, and by, themselves. And all the more so when one considers that academics do not get paid for most of the writing, editorial work and refereeing that goes into the production of scholarly texts, but give this labour away to publishers more or less for free.  Certainly, if publishers do try to restrict the open access publication of books, it is not hard to imagine a collective actor such as Culture Machine developing a distributed, networked, participative, co-operative means of publishing open access academic research: books, journals, archives. This could be based on an open source peer-to-peer system which would make it very difficult for anyone involved to be prosecuted for copyright infringement - especially if the published texts were not just disseminated but ‘authored’ in an anonymous, decentered and distributed fashion too. It could be run on a collaborative basis by groups of people working in disparate locations using open editing and free content methods to both publish and create texts that could then be reproduced extremely rapidly and cheaply thousands if not millions of times, using torrent systems.  To be sure, quite a few people in the arts and humanities already have a positive attitude toward so-called ‘digital piracy’. In his book Information Please, Mark Poster even looks to a future in which peer-to-peer networks make possible a ‘new regime of culture’ in which copyright laws have been changed and media and publishing corporations have either disappeared or completely transformed themselves (2006: 204 ).

Interestingly, the often raised issue of who is going to pay authors and artists to produce media and culture in such a new regime if their work is going to be freely available open access or peer-to-peer, does not constitute a persuasive argument against doing so - not for academics at any rate. As we have seen, academics are paid by their institutions and have a lot to benefit from giving their work away. But the issue does not even apply to most for-profit authors, artists and musicians. Cory Doctorow is just one example of a for-profit author who has benefited significantly from giving away electronic versions of his novels for free (Doctorow, 2006). The vast majority of authors, artists and musicians actually ‘benefit very little from the copyright system… As with artists’ earnings from other art sources, the individual’s distribution of copyright earnings is highly skewed with a few top stars earning considerable sums but the medium or “typical” author earning only small amounts from their various rights’ (Smiers, 2007: 43; see also Ernesto, 2008). In fact the argument concerning who pays only really applies if we continue to think within the restrictions of the culture industries as they exist and function at present. Yet might digital piracy not provide us with an opportunity, a chance, to think differently to that?

It was out of a desire to take such a chance and explore this possibility that we decided to make piracy our focus for this special 10th anniversary issue of Culture Machine. To this end ‘Pirate Philosophy’ contains a number of contributions which engage with the philosophy of piracy, as well as the emergence out of peer-to-peer file sharing networks of actual social movements - even a number of political ‘Pirate Parties’.  So much so usual for a publication on the topic perhaps. What promises to make this issue of Culture Machine a little different is, firstly, its refusal to ascribe an intrinsic or essential value to piracy. I am thinking of the kind of value that is evident, for example, in the oft made justification that communicating and sharing information is a natural human desire; that, as Felix Stalder has written with respect to one of the premises of Steal This Film II, ‘the sharing of culture is constitutive of culture itself and corresponds with a deep human need to communicate. Indeed, communicating is sharing and in an information society producing culture is a way of taking part in society. P2p technology then is simply giving new power to this defining feature of human existence’ (Stalder, 2008). Some have gone so far as to position this alleged deep human need to communicate and share as being constitutive not just of culture but also of a sense of radical autonomy, collective (if often distributed) solidarity and even alternative community - to the point where internet piracy in particular, with its large-scale distribution and sharing of copyrighted content, has been held up as having the potential to produce a form of digital communism. Yet for all the romantic, counter-cultural associations of its apparent challenge to the commodity culture and property relations of late capitalist society, there is nothing inherently emancipatory, oppositional, Leftist, or even politically or cultural progressive about digital piracy. The politics of digital piracy depends on the decisions that are made in relation to it, the specific tactics and strategies that are adopted, and the particular conjunction of time, situation and context in which such actions and activities take place. They are also ‘contingent on how a course of action is related to the other actors involved’, as Jonas Andersson makes clear in this issue in his analysis of just one of the controversies that have engulfed The Pirate Bay in recent years.  So much so that ‘even actions which... might not be meant to be conflictual at all – might take on a markedly more conflictual meaning as they become caught up in a bigger game of morality and legality’, and vice versa.

The meaning of piracy is not finished or closed for us here, then. Piracy can be understood and used in very different and at times actively opposed ways. Digital piracy may have the potential to make it possible for us to raise radical questions for ideas of the subject, the individual, the human and so forth – as I have argued it does here, if only we can take the chance it affords. Yet as the above quote from Stalder demonstrates, it can also be employed to defend, support and promote such humanist ideas. Witness, too, the way in which Adrian Johns is able to show how much of ‘[t]oday’s pirate philosophy is a moral philosophy through and through’, one which ‘has to do centrally with convictions about freedom, rights, duties, obligations, and the like’. The inspiration for much contemporary piracy comes for him not merely from ‘Stewart Brand and the Whole earth catalog, but Friedrich Hayek and – especially – Ronald Coase and their assaults on public media’ and the established, paternalistic state funded, regulated and controlled broadcasting institutions and monopolies such as that of the BBC in the UK. It is a philosophy that has its historical roots very much in a ‘marked libertarian ideology’: one of the UK’s pirate radio ships of the 1960s was actually called the Laissez Faire. Furthermore, it is a philosophy which ‘helped to make Thatcherism in particular what it was’. Pirates and piracy can even be pro-neoliberal capitalism, as Johns’ reference to Thatcherism implies, and as Matt Mason amply demonstrates in his recent book The Pirate’s Dilemma (2008). Many of the rebellious pirates Mason discusses go on to be successful businessmen and entrepreneurs. In fact, pirates are very much ‘taking over the good ship capitalism’, according to Mason, ‘but they’re not here to sink it. Instead they will plug the holes, keep it afloat, and propel it forward. The mass market will still be here for a long while’. Interestingly, Mason cites the publication of his own book in a decidedly non-piratical, non-digital form as ‘living proof of that’ (2008: 239).

Secondly, and following on from the above, if this issue of Culture Machine is distinguished by its refusal to assign an intrinsic or essential value, politics or meaning to piracy, it is also distinguished by the theoretically rigorous nature of much of its engagement with the subject. As you may already have gathered by now, piracy is not a sacred cow for us here. While we are extremely interested in piracy, its potentialities as well as its limitations, we are not uncritical of it, nor of the various pirate philosophies – be they humanist, (copy)Left, Marxist, libertarian or neo-liberal – that underpin it.

Thirdly, this critical approach extends to a refusal to restrict the analysis of piracy to its effects on the music, film and television industries; or to hypothetical speculations on its possible implications for the future organisation of social movements, political parties and even economic systems and society.  Again, we are very much interested in these issues. However, we are also – and as I have tried to make clear throughout this opening essay - keen to explore the consequences and potential implications of various forms of so-called piracy for academic publishing  and its founding ideas of the author, the book, the academic journal and so on that were established pre-internet. To this end, together with texts that address the theme of piracy in their content, this edition of Culture Machine includes a number of contributions which engage critically with the philosophy of piracy by experimenting with the creation of what might be interpreted as actual ‘pirate’ texts. (In other words, we are thinking of the word ‘pirate’ in ‘pirate philosophy’ here as both a noun and as a verb in the imperative mode.)

To encourage still further experimentation of this kind, this text, ‘Pirate Philosophy Version 1.0: Open Access, Open Editing, Free Content, Free/Libre/Open Media’, which forms the opening essay to this 10th anniversary edition on ‘Pirate Philosophy’, will be available in Culture Machine for a limited period only. After two months it will be placed on a ‘pirate’ peer-to-peer network and the original deleted from the Culture Machine site. As soon as someone downloads the peer-to-peer version, I will destroy my original file. There will then no longer be an ‘original’ or ‘master’ copy of this text in the conventional sense.  Instead, it will exist only to the extent that it is part of a ‘pirate network’ and is stolen or ‘pirated’. From that time on, all copies of this text will be ‘pirate’ copies.

Again, the aim is to raise questions around issues of authorship, the proper name, the signature, attribution, publication, citation, accreditation, fair use, copyright, intellectual property and content creation. How do you know I have not already done this? And what if I have? What if I have already placed the first version of this opening essay to Culture Machine’s ‘Pirate Philosophy’ issue on a peer-to-peer network, and made it available for anyone not only to read, download, copy and share without charge, but also to remix, reformat, reversion, reinvent and reuse as ‘Pirate Philosophy 2.0’ say? What if I have destroyed the original version of this text, so that the only version I can present to you here and now is a pirated version that has been authored and edited distributively - what we might think of as version 3.0? How does that affect your ideas of the academic author? Of scholarly writing and publishing? Of peer review? Of the academic journal?

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