The international trends show that in the information era the growth and developments in electronic publishing are not linear nor definite.
The American example shows how the conflict between publishers' and private bodies' interests to gain profits resulting from the authors' copyrights, sooner or later clashes with the interests of the public community that financed cultural and social education and do not want to pay twice for the education of its "future authors".
To define this unusual phenomenon with modern words, I would say that the public community wants to avoid what I would define "cultural anatocism", that is the equivalent of the "banking anatocism" (a perverse phenomenon that induces an uncontrolled increase of interest rates). In particular, I would define "cultural anatocism" the uncontrolled profit over cultural resources from major publishers, with the disastrous result, in the worst case scenario, of the end of free circulation of ideas and culture. In such a sad situation intellectuals would have an ever-decreasing power of control over the fruition of economic resources resulting from the exploitation of their ideas, while the same economic resources would acquire an ever-increasing importance for the production and development of culture.
In the United States the social, civil and legal concept of the so-called "fair use"has been formulated: a theory and praxis of exceptions to the profit resulting from copyrights in the case of public and educational use of cultural resources.
However, in Europe and elsewhere it is already possible to foresee a divergent course which regards the concept of "fair price" as preeminent and reserved to no-profit cultural institutions.
If it is already possible to anticipate an academic and institutional friction between two singularly "pacific" "fair" concepts, then it seems urgent to invent a more innovative formula.
In the global information society, the incentive towards a new economy does not come sic et simpliciter from the industry, but increasingly from services and the advanced tertiary or from strategies of advanced economic regulation such as the anti-trust and associations of deontologic codes' monitoring and updating.
BTA acknowledges the fact that the civil criteria of "fair use" and "fair price" are useful in counteracting the plain market laws but does regard them also as insufficient. After having experimented a new way of communicating Art from 1994, in the spirit of the
Permanent Manifesto on Art and Communication, and after having adopted a style of "open" and "free" production and dissemination of information, BTA now chooses and promotes the general formula of "lobby free". This formula allows BTA to become an universal platform for exchange amongst cultures, with the aim of taking aside the interests of a single social faction in favour of the public community considered as a whole (including all public institutions, foundations, etc.).
Therefore, BTA adopts a "lobby free" model of development; it believes that this choice is necessary to promote a democratic development in communication and research within the global information society.
For the concept of "fair use" in relation to electronic copyright, read my paper
Tools of Art History Research from Tradition to Innovation with related bibliography.
An excellent Italian forum for issues related to electronic publishing is INFER - Italian National Forum Electronic Resources
This subject was tackled on March 22th 2001 at the Rectorate of the University of Florence, during the
- Università degli Studi di Firenze, during International Conference on Scholarly Communication and Academic Presses (Conferenza Internazionale sulla Comunicazione Scientifica e l'Editoria Universitaria) organised as part of the project Firenze University Press
The owner, the publisher, the direction, the editors, the contributors and the internet provider (i.e. all parts involved in the production and distribution of this magazine) have intentionally renounced to a cover price, advertising sales and copyright sales.
In order to balance the absence of copyright sales, copyrights' ownership remain with their authors, while BTA have the faculty of free publishing, on a no-profit basis and without transfer of property.
This formula allows communication on Art to flow without disrupting copyrights ownership. Even if the authors sold all copyrights over works already published in BTA, these works would remain free and available to the magazine readers.