Everyone, in his or her own way, is in favour of the widest possible access to scientific information; that is not in dispute. What is, however, is the terms and conditions on which such access should be permitted. In particular, should this be a market model, in which the cost of access is determined by the ability and willingness of individuals to pay? One based entirely on need, where the costs are covered by the provider (which, in the case of scientists, means the original funder of the research in question)? Or a combination of the two?
The ideal model…is that all scientific information should be made freely available to everyone. Many statements to this effect were heard in Geneva, not least from the current leaders of the international physics community, Luciano Maiani, the current director of CERN. Addressing the final session of the summit, he presented as a key conclusion emerging from a meeting held at his own laboratory earlier in the week that “fundamental scientific information must be made freely available”.
Others were more pragmatic. Speaking on behalf of ICSU, for example, the organisation's current president, Jane Lubchenco, spoke similarly of the need to ensure universal access to scientific data for research and education purposes. But at the same time, she added that this needed to be balanced with treating such data as “a commodity for short-term economic return”.