John Willinsky

John Willinsky is the Khosla Family Professor of Education at Stanford University and founding director of the Public Knowledge Project. His books include Empire of Words, Learning to Divide the World, The Access Principle (MIT Press), and The Intellectual Properties of Learning.

  • Copyright's Broken Promise

    How to Restore the Law's Ability to Promote the Progress of Science

    John Willinsky

    A comprehensive proposal for reforming copyright law to ensure sustainable public access to research and scholarship.

    Open access is widely supported by researchers, librarians, scholarly societies, and research funders, as well as large and small publishers. Yet despite this support—and the pandemic's demonstration of the importance of open access for scientific progress—the scholarly publishing market is failing to deliver open access quickly enough. In Copyright's Broken Promise, John Willinsky presents the case for reforming copyright law so that it supports, rather than impedes, public access to research and scholarship. He draws on the legal strategy of statutory licensing to set out the terms and structures by which the Copyright Act could ensure that publishers are fairly compensated for providing immediate open access.

    What sets Willinsky's analysis apart is its focus on the current state of scholarly publishing. Because copyright offers so little legal support for moving publishing to open access, though it is best for science, he says it is time to stop regarding the Copyright Act as a law of nature that can only be circumvented, contravened, or temporarily set aside. Specifically, he proposes that the Copyright Act add a new category of work, called “research publications,” which would be subject to statutory licensing. This would allow publishers to receive royalty payments from the principal institutional users (universities, industry R&D, research institutes, and so on) and sponsors of the work (foundations and government agencies), while providing immediate open access.

    • Paperback $28.00
  • The Access Principle

    The Access Principle

    The Case for Open Access to Research and Scholarship

    John Willinsky

    An argument for extending the circulation of knowledge with new publishing technologies considers scholarly, economic, philosophical, and practical issues.

    Questions about access to scholarship go back farther than recent debates over subscription prices, rights, and electronic archives suggest. The great libraries of the past—from the fabled collection at Alexandria to the early public libraries of nineteenth-century America—stood as arguments for increasing access. In The Access Principle, John Willinsky describes the latest chapter in this ongoing story—online open access publishing by scholarly journals—and makes a case for open access as a public good.

    A commitment to scholarly work, writes Willinsky, carries with it a responsibility to circulate that work as widely as possible: this is the access principle. In the digital age, that responsibility includes exploring new publishing technologies and economic models to improve access to scholarly work. Wide circulation adds value to published work; it is a significant aspect of its claim to be knowledge. The right to know and the right to be known are inextricably mixed. Open access, argues Willinsky, can benefit both a researcher-author working at the best-equipped lab at a leading research university and a teacher struggling to find resources in an impoverished high school.

    Willinsky describes different types of access—the New England Journal of Medicine, for example, grants open access to issues six months after initial publication, and First Monday forgoes a print edition and makes its contents immediately accessible at no cost. He discusses the contradictions of copyright law, the reading of research, and the economic viability of open access. He also considers broader themes of public access to knowledge, human rights issues, lessons from publishing history, and "epistemological vanities." The debate over open access, writes Willinsky, raises crucial questions about the place of scholarly work in a larger world—and about the future of knowledge.

    • Hardcover $36.95
    • Paperback $20.00


  • Reassembling Scholarly Communications

    Reassembling Scholarly Communications

    Histories, Infrastructures, and Global Politics of Open Access

    Martin Paul Eve and Jonathan Gray

    A critical inquiry into the politics, practices, and infrastructures of open access and the reconfiguration of scholarly communication in digital societies.

    The Open Access Movement proposes to remove price and permission barriers for accessing peer-reviewed research work—to use the power of the internet to duplicate material at an infinitesimal cost-per-copy. In this volume, contributors show that open access does not exist in a technological or policy vacuum; there are complex social, political, cultural, philosophical, and economic implications for opening research through digital technologies. The contributors examine open access from the perspectives of colonial legacies, knowledge frameworks, publics and politics, archives and digital preservation, infrastructures and platforms, and global communities. he contributors consider such topics as the perpetuation of colonial-era inequalities in research production and promulgation; the historical evolution of peer review; the problematic histories and discriminatory politics that shape our choices of what materials to preserve; the idea of scholarship as data; and resistance to the commercialization of platforms. Case studies report on such initiatives as the Making and Knowing Project, which created an openly accessible critical digital edition of a sixteenth-century French manuscript, the role of formats in Bruno Latour's An Inquiry into Modes of Existence, and the Scientific Electronic Library Online (SciELO), a network of more than 1,200 journals from sixteen countries. Taken together, the contributions represent a substantive critical engagement with the politics, practices, infrastructures, and imaginaries of open access, suggesting alternative trajectories, values, and possible futures.

    The open access edition of this book was made possible by generous funding and support from Arcadia – a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin, the Open Society Foundations, the Open Knowledge Foundation, Knowledge Unlatched, and Birkbeck, University of London.

    • Paperback $30.00
  • The Reputation Society

    The Reputation Society

    How Online Opinions Are Reshaping the Offline World

    Hassan Masum and Mark Tovey

    Experts discuss the benefits and risks of online reputation systems.

    In making decisions, we often seek advice. Online, we check Amazon recommendations, eBay vendors' histories, TripAdvisor ratings, and even our elected representatives' voting records. These online reputation systems serve as filters for information overload. In this book, experts discuss the benefits and risks of such online tools.

    The contributors offer expert perspectives that range from philanthropy and open access to science and law, addressing reputation systems in theory and practice. Properly designed reputation systems, they argue, have the potential to create a “reputation society,” reshaping society for the better by promoting accountability through the mediated judgments of billions of people. Effective design can also steer systems away from the pitfalls of online opinion sharing by motivating truth-telling, protecting personal privacy, and discouraging digital vigilantism.

    Contributors Madeline Ashby, Jamais Cascio, John Henry Clippinger, Chrysanthos Dellarocas, Cory Doctorow, Randy Farmer, Eric Goldman, Victor Henning, Anthony Hoffmann, Jason Hoyt, Luca Iandoli, Josh Introne, Mark Klein, Mari Kuraishi, Cliff Lampe, Paolo Massa, Hassan Masum, Marc Maxson, Craig Newmark, Michael Nielsen, Lucio Picci, Jan Reichelt, Alex Steffen, Lior Strahilevitz, Mark Tovey, John Whitfield, John Willinsky, Yi-Cheng Zhang, Michael Zimmer

    • Hardcover $35.00
    • Paperback $20.00