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Free databases targeted

PubMed considered safe, but commercial publishers seek shut-down of other competitors

Karen Heyman(klhscience@yahoo.com)

Bowing to pressure from commercial publishers and the Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA), the US Department of Energy on November 4 closed the PubScience database. Patterned after the National Library of Medicine's PubMed, PubScience had provided free access to research publications on the physical sciences, creating unfair competition for commercial databases, publishers argued.

"The introduction of a free product, even an inferior one, runs significant risk of driving out cost-based products and therefore eliminating competition, resulting in a lack of choice for users," according to David LeDuc, public policy director of the SIIA. LeDuc told The Scientist, "cost pressures were already there" for SIIA members because of PubScience.

SIIA says that PubMed is safe from their efforts, which are now focused on other federal databases in the fields of law and agriculture. The National Agricultural Library's AGRICOLA database is most likely next to be targeted, LeDuc said....

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