April 24, 2005
Buying Law Review Articles on Amazon.com
Orin Kerr and Larry Ribstein have flagged what I think is a pernicious development in our profession: Amazon.com is now selling law review articles for $5.95 per shot. Their inventory of articles for now appears to be incomplete -- for example, Amazon.com lists for sale on my author page not only six of my books but just one of my articles, Affirmative Refraction: Grutter v. Bollinger Through the Lens of The Case of the Speluncean Explorers, 21 Constitutional Commentary 63 (2004) (with Rafael Gely)(previously blogged here).
As one who fights with law reviews to retain the right to post my articles on SSRN so they can be downloaded for free, I am worried that the new amazon venture will give law reviews yet another reason to try to restrict the ability of authors to post their work on SSRN. As many readers know, Lawrence Lessig recently publicly pledged that he will no longer publish law review articles until the reviews stop insisting on the exclusive right to authorize the publication, reproduction, and distribution of articles, which they in turn sell to Lexis and Westlaw. I do not know the business deal Amazon has worked out for the sale of articles, but the system is seriously broken when professors are denied the right to make their scholarship freely available and everyone else in the distribution chain is making a buck off of their intellectual property.
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