The ACS is finally taking a step in that direction, albeit a baby step. Authors can now pay a fee so that the ACS will allow free access to their article. This option has been available since October, but it seems that only 3 authors have taken advantage of this wonderful service so far. At $1000-$3000 an article, the fees would quickly add up for authors with huge publication lists. With an average article currently costing ~$30, that means that the average article currently is accessed less than ~30 times.
You can tell from my satirical tone that I favor free access of all information, as both the author and the readers gain. The middle man (the publisher) is the one that is hurt. I don't have any easy solutions. One option that I am in favor of is to base the access fee on the popularity of the article: the more it is accessed, the more it costs to access it. Articles that no one reads would be available very cheaply.
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