Well, well, well. It looks like academic publishing juggernaut Elsevier may be finally growing a clue. First theoretical computer science editor Chris Leonard starts a blog. Now, several people got the following email announcement from Moshe Vardi earlier today. (Links added.)
The Publisher and Editorial Board of Information and Computation are pleased to announce that for one year, effective immediately, online access to all journal issues back to 1995 will be available without charge. This includes unrestricted downloading of articles in pdf format. Journal articles may be obtained through the journal's web site http://theory.csail.mit.edu/~iandc or Elsevier's Sciencedirect at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/08905401
At the end of the year, the retrieval traffic during the open access period will be evaluated as future subscription policies are considered.
It's about damn time!
But why only back to 1995? You'd think the old papers would be the ones Elsevier would be least insistent about selling for $1205/€1529/¥159,800 per year (double that if you're an institution) or $30 per individual article.
I really have to wonder how the retrieval traffic pattern will affect future subscription policies. If lots of people download lots of papers from the Elsevier web site, will Elsevier be more likely or less likely to keep the papers available? And if people continue to ignore the Elsevier web site in droves, since most papers are freely available elsewhere on the web anyway? What then?
Update: See also Mark Lieberman's post at Language Log.