Peter Suber

The Budapest Open Access Initiative said in February 2002: “An old tradition and a new technology have converged to make possible an unprecedented public good. The old tradition is the willingness of scientists and scholars to publish the fruits of their research in scholarly journals without payment. . . . The new technology is the internet.” To see what this willingness looks like without the medium to give it effect, look at scholarship in the age of print. Author gifts turned into publisher commodities, and access gaps for readers were harmfully large and widespread. (Access gaps are still harmfully large and widespread, but only because OA is not yet the default for new research.) To see what the medium looks like without the willingness, look at music and movies in the age of the internet. The need for royalties keeps creators from reaching everyone who would enjoy their work.

A beautiful opportunity exists where the willingness and the medium overlap. A scholarly custom that evolved in the seventeenth century frees scholars to take advantage of the access revolution in the twentieth and twenty- first. Because scholars are nearly unique in following this custom, they are nearly unique in their freedom to take advantage of this revolution without financial risk. In this sense, the planets have aligned for scholars. Most other authors are constrained to fear rather than seize the opportunities created by the internet.

Peter Suber, Open Access, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2012, pp. 19–20