Why are online articles so expensive?

George Dvorsky wrote an article for io9.com: did life on other planets originate from earth? He describes the study by Edward Belbruno, Amaya Moro-Martin, Renu Malhotra, Dmitry Savransky: “Chaotic exchange of solid material between planetary systems: implications for lithopanspermia”

I’m not sure about the soundness of the conclusion (the possibility of lithopanspermia, a kind of reverse panspermia), but, since Dvorsky has a good reputation, why not think a little bit more about it and read the original article?

Dvorsky himself points to the entire study at Astrobiology, and that online magazine is published by Mary Ann Liebert Ind. Publishers, with the ironic tagline “Open Access Options and Benefits”. Unfortunately, the article was protected: I had to register with Liebert Pub. No problem – open access doesn’t necessarily mean that anyone can read the stuff without letting know who he is. But when I was signed up and signed in, I got this message:

your user account does not include a subscription for the requested content.

That is: Open Access actually meaning Closed Access, so I had to move on to the “Options”:

PAY PER VIEW Astrobiology – 12(8):754-774; Chaotic Exchange of Solid Material Between Planetary Systems: Implications for Lithopanspermia (access for 24 hours for US $51.00)

Whaaaat? $51.00 !!! The word “Benefits” in that tagline must be a kind of a joke! I know the truth of TANSTAAFL (if Heinlein hadn’t already written about it, I certainly would), but this is almost an insult and it’s simply begging for piracy!

So I googled to find the torrent, which was not necessary, because the Arxiv page with the complete article came up. Free, as it should be.

I haven’t read the article yet, but I fear that Liebert Publishers is putting it’s customers to a test: Someone who is stupid enough to pay $51.00 for a 24 hour access to a 20 pages digital article can also be considered stupid enough to believe any nonsense that is printed in a magazine with scientific pretensions.

 

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