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Martin Paul Eve

Professor of Literature, Technology and Publishing at Birkbeck, University of London

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I was very pleased, late last year, to have been invited by Jim Mussell to contribute to a Digital Forum in the Literature journal, the Journal of Victorian Culture, on Open Access publishing.

This is certainly one of the more experimental and less praxis-orientated pieces I've written on the topic as it was constructed during a period in which first-generation Frankfurt School Critical Theory was much in my mind as I finished Pynchon and Philosophy. Sources cited are as diverse as Richard Stallman and Theodor W. Adorno.

That said, I think the essay still makes some interesting points, although I appreciate the style won't be for everybody. For those who would like a more concise summary, here's what I say on "gold" and taxonomies:

Gold open access is not, by definition, an APC-driven model. However, this is the mode with which it is becoming synonymous. This terminological conflation has given rise to a third variety of ‘route’: platinum. This is supposed to designate a gold open access destination that does not ask for APCs. However, eagle-eyed readers will spot, instantly, that there is a category error at work here. Gold and green are terms that apply to the method by which open access is delivered; they are not terms pertaining to a business model, even if the former has taken on that characteristic. By contrast, platinum is an attempt to conflate the financial sense of ‘free’ with the liberty sense, ‘freedom’. It is worth questioning whether this could be a dangerous move given David Harvey's recent writing on neoliberal doctrine.1 While it is nice to think that platinum is a good term to do the trick here, what is actually needed is a modification of the other two terms such that there is a third axis (‘author cost’) introduced to open access publishing as demonstrated in Figure 1. The rows are not meant to align: it is not the case that green must be ‘libre’ for example, but rather that these terms may be permuted with one another.

Author Cost

Delivery Route

Reader Freedom




Article Processing Charge



Figure 1: Modifications to the open access terminological matrix to ensure consistency and incorporate author-side cost

While I don't, here, address how this might be used, it also signifies, for me, problems surrounding the absurd and impenetrable terminologies of Open Access that prohibit entry to all but OA geeks.

I also reiterated my earlier points about CC BY licensing:

I remain sceptical of the arguments against CC-BY licensing framed by Peter Mandler in this issue. I feel that he only tangentially addresses the benefits of CC-BY's extensions beyond fair use (extensive quotation and critique; machine re-usability; and translation are among the benefits, but always in every case, even if commercial, with citation) and still wishes to taint the license with the charge of plagiarism. We have never used copyright and licensing to enforce institutional rules on plagiarism before, so why would we now? It is patently not because a work is under copyright that we teach students to cite correctly; they must cite even out-of-copyright works.

Eve, Martin Paul, ‘Utopia Fading: Taxonomies, Freedom and Dissent in Open Access Publishing’, Journal of Victorian Culture, 18 (2013), 536–542 <doi:10.1080/13555502.2013.865979>

The piece is available at JVC [open access], on this site as a PDF and shortly in the University of Lincoln repository.