27 Januar 2023


Open access. That is what we do. We open up access to what scholars know about constitutional law and constitutional policies. We open it up for legal scholars among themselves, across borders of language, culture and legal order. We are opening it up to scholars in general, across disciplinary boundaries. Finally, and most importantly, we are opening it up to the public. We are giving the public access to scholarly expert knowledge they need to form informed opinions about so many fundamental topics in the world in these complicated times.

This is actually nothing new at all. In fact, that is how we have described ourselves from the outset. What is new are the conclusions we are drawing from that description of ourselves.

Opening access to information was, in the old world, the job of media companies: Publishers invest in the production and distribution of media that readers and advertisers find sufficiently useful to buy for a price that promises the publisher a decent return. That was the world I became a journalist in. That world, as anyone who hasn’t spent the last two decades under a rock knows, does no longer exist. These days, the big media companies mostly don’t invest much in opening up access at all anymore. They invest in closing it. They invest in paywalls and exclusive licencing models. They invest, even more, in data analytics. Not unlike Meta, Amazon and Alphabet, their value is based not so much on the knowledge we obtain through them, but on the knowledge they obtain about us. They know what we read, write, think, how far we stay attentive and where we start getting bored, what we enjoy and what makes us mad, what we are capable of and what we value and how much. They know this about each and every one of us, and they know this about all of us together. It is their exclusive property, this knowledge, to which they provide access to whoever pays them, and by means of which they regulate who gets access to what information in their private, heavily guarded shopping mall of ideas, and who doesn’t (highly recommended: Sarah Lamdan’s ferocious book „Data Cartels„, do read it if you can!).


Eine Karriere bei Hausfeld bietet die Möglichkeit, in einer anderen Art von Kanzlei zu arbeiten. Wir wachsen weiter und suchen Associates (m/w/d) Digitalkartellrecht mit oder ohne Berufserfahrung für unser Berliner Büro in Voll- oder Teilzeit. Wenn Sie auch Teil unseres renommierten Teams werden möchten, freuen wir uns auf Ihre vollständige Bewerbung mit Ihrem frühesten Eintrittsdatum an: bewerbung@hausfeld.com.

Die vollständige Stellenausschreibung finden Sie hier.

Bei Rückfragen helfen wir gerne auch telefonisch weiter, unter: 030 322 903 00


The probably most extreme case in point is science. Access to scientific knowledge is controlled by an oligopoly of huge publishing corporations: Elsevier, Wiley, Springer, Taylor & Francis, plus a number of local giants like our German legal-science quasi-monopolist C.H.Beck. These corporations hold exclusive rights to the vast majority of academic monographs, editions, databases and journals that actually constitute public access to scientific knowledge – to which, by the way, they themselves hardly contribute anything, as the editorial work is usually done by academics for free, and digital publishing as such nowadays costs next to nothing. Since science depends on access to this knowledge at any price, they can indeed demand virtually any price and get it paid by universities in countries rich enough to afford it. To ensure that science remains dependent on this access-at-any-price and does not seek alternative paths, the publishing corporations have created a hermetic system of metrics for measuring „impact“ and other mumbo-jumbo, on which the entire academic existence increasingly depends, from job appointments to grant applications. The walls of this system, I hear from friends who work in the natural and life sciences, are seamless. There is no escaping from it. Not even through Open Access: Of course, the publishers say coldly, you can have your paper published without access restrictions anytime, no problem at all. For a little fee north of 2,000 Euros, that is, payable by your university or by yourself.

We at Verfassungsblog want no part of this. Closing access to scientific knowledge is a huge problem, not just for science but for the society at large, and it gets far too little public attention in my view. We don’t want to be part of that problem. We want to be a part of the solution. What is needed is a common-good alternative, and we want to be part of those who build it. That is why we no longer consider ourselves a media company. Actually, not even a private company at all. We don’t do business with science. We are a part of science.

Science will only be able to free itself from the stranglehold of commercial publishers if it takes the publication of its knowledge into its own hands. Blogs like us can play an important role there. We already check most of the boxes: We don’t track data. We have no paywall. No corporate interests, no investors eager to reap big profits. What we publish is published under a CC-BY-SA licence anyway. We have no backlist and no archive for which open access would have to be bought for extraordinary amounts of money. We were „Diamond Open Access“ long before it was cool, and long before we even knew what that was.

As of 2023, we are a registered non-profit organisation. That, of course, means that our sustenance is not our private business either any more. We need to get funded by donors who share our goals and who support us in reaching them.

We don’t need all that much, really. What we need is efficient and transparent funding for our editorial work. Two FTE editor positions for running the daily business of acquiring, reviewing, editing, disseminating our content. That’s pretty much all we need to keep Verfassungsblog going (not counting blog symposia, podcasts, projects). In our research project „Open Access to Public Law“ (OZOR), funded by the Federal Ministry of Science, we have been exploring for the last two years how this could be achieved. We have so far been able to convince 22 university and other academic libraries to participate in consortium funding for 2023. The sum that this brings about is still not nearly enough. But it’s definitely a start.

Which means that we are also still a long way from the finish line. Unless we do something about it, we will be heading for a considerable deficit in 2023. Until we get to the point where we are finally able to finance ourselves through a consortium of libraries, we will be dependent on your help.

85,000 euros. That is the amount we need to raise in addition to our expected other income over the next few months in order to make it through this year.

We are therefore launching a fundraising campaign today. We need to raise those 85,000 euros, and we will be pestering you quite a bit with that request in the near future, asking you to help us reach our fundraising goal. Sorry! Can’t be helped, I’m afraid. It’s for the common good, you know!

We have prepared everything to make this as easy and effortless as possible. All you have to do is leave us your account number and the amount you are willing to donate. Paypal and Klarna work, too. Credit card still takes a bit of paperwork but will hopefully be added in the next few days.

Ready? Thanks! This way please!

The week on Verfassungsblog


A German environmental NGO is taking legal action before the OVG Berlin-Brandenburg because the government has still not adopted an emergency climate protection programme. PHILIPP SCHÖNBERGER explains how this came about and assesses the chances of success of the lawsuit.

Lützerath and the lignite underneath it are the private property of the energy behemoth RWE, and as such is protected by Article 14 of the Basic Law. The following Article 15 of the Basic Law, however, states that means of production and natural resources can be socialised. Would that be possible in the case of RWE? GEORG FREIß thinks it would.


Das GfU-Forum, das den Auftakt der 46. Umweltrechtlichen Fachtagung vom 9. bis 11. November 2023 bildet, findet am Donnerstag, den 9.11.2023, 19.30 Uhr im Bundesverwaltungsgericht in Leipzig statt.

Bewerbungen für Vorträge auf dem GfU-Forum bitte bis zum 28. Februar 2023 mit Lebenslauf und Kurzexposé (2 bis max. 5 S.) an Gesellschaft für Umweltrecht e.V. (mail@gesellschaft-fuer-umweltrecht.de) und Prof. Dr. Sabine Schlacke (sabine.schlacke@uni-greifswald.de) senden. Wir freuen uns auf Ihre Bewerbungen!


UWE VOLKMANN looks at the Federal Constitutional Court’s ruling on party funding. Although the result was expected, he writes, the reasoning was somewhat petty.

In the debate on the Skilled Worker Immigration Act, everyone is talking about the points system that the traffic light coalition wants to introduce. But DANIEL THYM finds something else even more exciting: hidden in the Employment Ordinance is a new access route for people who have not completed university or vocational training according to German standards, but who are nevertheless considered qualified on the basis of alternative criteria. This „experience pillar“ could attract more people than the points system and is likely to cause some debate.

TRISTAN ROHNER comments on the Bundeskartellamt’s warning against Google. The focus is on the rarely used § 19a para. 2 GWB, which is supposed to give consumers more choice with regard to „superprofiling“.

MERVE HICKOK, MARC ROTENBERG & KARINE CAUNES express concern about the Council of Europe’s decision to develop the announced international AI convention behind closed doors. According to the authors, this is a step in exactly the wrong direction.

ZUZANA VIKARSKÁ discusses the ECtHR’s ruling in Fedotova v Russia on the legal recognition and protection of same-sex couples. She criticises the decision for creating a new right and for being the most political ruling ever. She also wonders what the Russian judge is still doing on the bench. EDUARDO GILL-PEDRO is not convinced by Vikarská’s finding that a new right has been created. Gill-Pedro agrees with her that the decision is of great political importance, but believes that it was the right one to make.


An der Rechtswissenschaftlichen Fakultät der Universität Jena ist zum 01.06.2023 eine Stelle als Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter (w/m/d) mit einem Stellenumfang von 80 % für max. 3 Jahre zu besetzen. Nährere Informationen hier.
Bewerbungen bitte unter der Reg.-Nr. 444/2022 bis zum 15.03.2023 an:
Prof. Dr. Anna Leisner-Egensperger
Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena
Rechtswissenschaftliche Fakultät
LS Öffentliches Recht und Steuerrecht
Carl-Zeiß-Str. 3
07743 Jena


SERGII MASOL examines a draft law that would allegedly introduce Russian criminal and criminal procedure law in the Ukrainian provinces of Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhya – but which declares crimes „for the protection of the interests of the Russian Federation“ to be exempt from punishment. If enacted, the draft law would turn the occupied territories into a lawless space, Masol says.

MAX STEUER looks at the referendum held in Slovakia last weekend. He concludes that while the result is of little practical significance, the event shows how vulnerable the referendum instrument is to illiberal abuse.

Looking ahead to the upcoming elections in Turkey, MAHIR TOKATLI looks at Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s announcement to run for another term as president. Currently, his candidacy would be unconstitutional.

RIVKA WEILL takes a close look at the bill to restructure the Judicial Elections Committee in Israel. She rejects the government’s claim that the bill would democratise the appointment process and explains that it would have the opposite effect: concentrating the power to appoint judges in the hands of a few individuals.


Max Planck Law connects ten Institutes in Germany and Luxembourg to form one of the world’s largest networks for doctoral and postdoctoral research in law. 

Find out more about our academic opportunities here and keep up-to-date with our numerous activities, including events open to the public, by subscribing to our newsletter here.


Our latest blog symposium has just started: it’s about abortion laws from around the world. In the US, the recriminalisation of abortion is in full swing, and the debate is also gaining momentum in Germany. The blog symposium brings together legal experts from different constitutional traditions and legal systems to explore what regulation might look like. APARNA CHANDRA and CAMILLA PICKLES kick things off with contributions from India and South Africa, with more to follow later this week.

That’s it again for this time. All the best to you and see you next week! And as I said, please don’t forget to donate!

Max Steinbeis

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SUGGESTED CITATION  Steinbeis, Maximilian: Access, VerfBlog, 2023/1/27, https://verfassungsblog.de/access/, DOI: 10.17176/20230130-202025-0.

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