This even in cases where the research as government funded and done say, in 1935 -- author long dead, unknown copyright status and so on, but the society or publisher feels entitled to get this fee. I'd go bankrupt in no time buying lots of articles that I can't tell contain the information I need from the abstract. This is ridiculous, does not advance science (as many of these societies and publishers state in their mottos) and is surely a major profit center for someone. I cannot afford to subscribe to all these journals and so on, I need some money left over for equipment! I suppose larger outfits do subscribe for the benefit of their employees, but this is yet another case of big vs small with small getting the shaft. Have fun at http://www.coultersmithing.com/
I'm doing some science as a "hobby" here at my shop (Think Farnsworth fusor and related things). I often need more information than I have to get something right on one of the early tries. When I look for an article, perhaps one I have a name for, or just something I find on Google, I inevitab ly get a useless abstract and the offer to sell it to me for something on the order of $20/page -- this for the pdf, not dead tree.