Vol. 2.2, August 1998


Are electronic and paper publishing two competitive ways of disseminating scholarly information or will they eventually develop as complements? This was one of the themes discussed at a seminar organized by the editorial board and the project team of the EJCL in May of this year. Other themes were the way the project progressed, especially during its initial stages, and copyright aspects of electronic publishing.

On behalf of the editorial board I gave a brief description of the way in which the editorial board worked closely together with librarians and technical staff in the project team, while Katharina Boele-Woelki gave her first impressions of writing for an electronic journal. In my experience, the close cooperation between the editors and the members of the project team which actually built the EJCL site was very beneficial. There is, however, a danger lurking: at some point in the start-up process the editorial board - in spite of its enthusiasm regarding the technical possibilities - must begin focussing only on its work as editors. For a new journal, this implies attracting high-quality manuscripts and convincing authors of the merits of a new medium.

Katharina Boele-Woelki, who published an article on European family law in the first issue of the EJCL, told the audience that because of the simple accessibility of an Internet site she received several reactions, which otherwise she might not have received. Maurits Barendrecht - involved in developing the Internet Law Library, an initiative taken by Tilburg University, and in which the universities of Utrecht and Maastricht participate - discussed the relationship between electronic and paper publishers.

Herman Pabbruwe of Wolters Kluwer publishers stressed that commercial publishers and academic electronic publishers should not look at one another as adversaries, but as parties interested in giving information in different ways for different purposes. Commercial publishers are, of course, interested in making profits; academic electronic publishers are mostly interested in being read. This did not, however, in his view imply that cooperation was not feasible. Finally, Wilma Mossink, of the Open University Netherlands, discussed the intricacies of copyright on electronic publications from the perspective of labor relations between academic researchers and their employers, especially universities.

One of the main questions raised in the discussion was whether electronic publishing by universities was not simply unfair competition. In my reply I referred to an auditing report prepared by PriceWaterhouseCoopers. In this report all costs - including indirect costs, such as the use of the academic infrastructure and time devoted by editors - can be traced. The report shows that electronic publishing is considerably less expensive than paper publishing. This report, as well as all other materials produced during the project period, can be traced through the final report on the EJCL project at http://drcwww.uvt.nl/~roes/erclaw/ejclfinl.htm The project was formally concluded in June.

But there is more to be noted. The advantages of being able to gain global and fast access to information through the Internet are being appreciated by comparative lawyers at a rapidly increasing pace. A clear sign is the fact that during the 15th International Congress of Comparative Law - organized under the auspices of the International Academy of Comparative Law and held in Bristol from 26 July - 1 August of this year - the relationship between the Internet and law was discussed at two of the various sessions. The topic of one of these two sessions was 'The impact of the Internet on legal bibliography' and the topic of the other session was 'Legal theory and practice in new methods of interactive telecommunication (the Internet)'. The general reports on both sessions were excellent, and it came as no surprise that after their presentation a vivid discussion among participants followed. The general report on the topic of the Internet and legal bibliography was written by John Adams (University of Sheffield, Director of the Intellectual Property Institute, London); the general report on new methods of interactive telecommunication was written by Herbert Maisl (University of Paris I). Both reports have, to my knowledge, not yet been published. For more information on the congress see the following URL: http://www.iel.bham.ac.uk/uknccl/booklet/english/default.htm It should also be mentioned that the Dutch national reports for this congress were electronically published through the following URL: http://www.library.uu.nl/uupubl/jb/01809180/15/content.htm

In this issue of the EJCL we will publish two articles. One article analyzes interim measures of protection in international commercial arbitration and was written by Jan Schaeffer (research scholar, National University of Singapore). The other article was written by Coen van Laer (law librarian, Maastricht University) on the applicability of comparative concepts.

The editorial board welcomes articles from anywhere in the world. Being an electronic journal, EJCL is a global forum for all those interested in its aim and scope: comparative private law and the methodology of comparative law.

Sjef van Erp

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