Most of the work involved in writing the papers, reviewing and editing them is carried out at public expense by people at universities. Yet this public asset has been captured, packaged and sold back to us for phenomenal fees. Those who pay most are publicly funded libraries. Taxpayers must shell out twice: first for the research, then to see the work they have sponsored. There might be legal justifications for this practice. There are no ethical justifications.
This nice, concise statement of the case for open access is probably the least caustic part of a scathing op-ed by George Monbiot, starting with the title: “Scientific publishing is a rip-off. We fund the research – it should be free.”