The idea that software had an owner or had to be paid was not new. So designated Bill Gates, one of the founders of Microsoft (then Micro-Soft), the free exchange of software of his company in 1976 as a theft. Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs (1955-2011), who co-founded Apple in 1976, also sold their
products instead of giving them away for free. Richard Stallman, who worked at the MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, saw it differently. He developed the GNU operating system in 1984 and founded the Free Software Foundation, whose policy to date is to distribute software freely – with one caveat:

anyone who modifies GNU must disclose his newly developed source code so that other users can work with it as well. This style of sharing was what Stallman called copyright copyleft. Stallmann’s GNU benefited even from copyleft: he had difficulty completing the GNU kernel, an important part of the operating system. This was only possible with Linux, a software package that Linus Torvalds published for free in 1991 in a Usenet newsgroup. Back then, Linux was made up of 10,000 lines of code and grew to 324 million lines by 2009 – written by people who, like Stallman and Torvalds, believed in the idea of free, collaborative software.

From 1977 to the early 1990s, the scene of these programmers was quite small and fragmented into many groups that had little contact with each other. With the publication of the New Hackers’ Dictionary by Eric S. Raymond in 1991, a kind of cultural awareness of hackers was first described and a common group feeling was established. Raymond wrote in 1997 another text that influenced the software development, its makers and their culture: The Cathedral and the Bazaar. In it he described his experiences in dealing with Linux and formulated 19 guidelines on how software should be written.

From Open Source to Open Access

In his essay, Raymond did not use the term free software that Stallman had established with GNU, but open source. This term was first officially used at the Freeware Summit in April 1997. In 1998, the Open Source Foundation was founded, which has since awarded its seal to software that has been
programmed to its standards. For open-source software, as with free software, you can work without restrictions on the source code. After that it is possible to license your work differently than is possible with free software under the GNU GPL (General Public License). The biggest difference to free software is that open-source software no longer requires the editing user to redistribute his work as open source, which provoked sharp criticism Stallmanns. Meanwhile, different models of licensing have emerged, some of which are financially profitable.

Both Stallman’s GNU project and the resulting open-source movement have one thing in common: to let many people participate in something that was previously denied access. The rapidly spreading Internet created this ever better options. Since 199 1, access to the Internet has been greatly facilitated by the invention of the World Wide Web (WWW). It was used commercially from September 1993 z. Through vendors like America Online (AOL). By the late 1990s, AOL had 30 million members who moved, chatted, emailed, and posted bulletin boards on the Web. Not only the general public discovered the Internet as a new medium, but also science.

In 1994, the Open Archives Initiative was born, with the aim of making scientific articles no longer accessible only to journal readers. Among other things, this project was hindered by the fact that publishers prohibited their authors from publishing their essays in another medium; Many scientists hesitated because they escaped publication in a high-impact journal. Nevertheless, the desire to use scientific documents for free was formulated again in 2002 by the Budapest Open Access Initiative. In 2003, the Berlin Declaration followed, which also called for access to existing knowledge, but also stated: “The developments associated with knowledge dissemination will inevitably lead to significant changes in the nature of scientific publishing and initiate a change in existing systems of scientific quality assurance.” So far, there is little to notice in art history.

Open Access in art history

The fact that the changes hoped for in the Berlin Declaration have not yet fully come to fruition is due to the hitherto used publication models, the current quality assurance and reputation building in science. In order to bring about the desired change, a fundamental rethinking is needed in these areas.


Although the acceptance of open access in the humanities is just as pronounced as in other subjects, they are having a hard time implementing this attitude. On the one hand, this is due to the “technical preference for publishing in monographs, for which there are very few reputed providers in the open access world.” On the other hand, the publishers insist on their “business model of information scarcity” Other than open access uses so-called Toll Access: That is, the author transfers the rights of use of the
text to be published to the publisher and thus gives the right to publish him otherwise, for example on the Internet. But that would be in the sense of Open Access: Open Access “is not only free access, but above all allows a largely free use of once made objects.” Authors kept their rights in open access publications quite and could decide for themselves in which form they make their work accessible.

There are different models: Green Road Open Access lets a text appear as a pre- or postprint on open access servers, that is, before or after, and above all, in addition to a regular print publication. The texts are stored on repositories operated either by an institution (eg a university) or a discipline. At Golden Road Open Access, the publication is online immediately, the texts are born digital and not necessarily stored in repositories, but z. On publishing sites or other sites. The authors can decide for themselves how to license their texts; the Creative Commons are a good start by offering “pre-built licensing agreements to assist copyright owners in releasing copyrighted content.”