Re: Chron. High. Ed. 18 September on Cal Tech & Copyright

From: Joseph Ransdell <> <harnad_at_COGSCI.SOTON.AC.UK>
Date: Wed, 16 Sep 1998 08:35:36 -0400

Joseph Ransdell <>:

I posted the [indented] message below to the Colloquy at the Chronicle of
Higher Education.

There seems to be some misunderstanding on this matter somewhere, and
perhaps you know about Koonin's initiative apart from the description
in the Chronicle article. But as described there it seems clear that he
is talking about some kind of copyright arrangement that effectively
gives ownership to the university, whatever the detail may be, and this
surely cannot be what you have been urging so vigorously for so long.
It is true that the question is posed for the Colloquy as if it were
simply a proposal that the individual researcher not give up the
intellectual property rights to the publisher, and my guess is that you
took that at face value, but that is NOT the proposal as described in
the article. Unfortunately, no citation of any independent statement
by Koonin is provided there.

The message I submitted for posting runs as follows (apart from a change
of a word or two at the last minute for stylistic purposes):

    Stevan Harnad's statement that Provost Koonin's initiative is
    "being pursued implicitly by all researchers who submit their
    preprints and reprints to the Los Alamos Physics Preprint Archive"
    appears to be based on a misunderstanding. The proposal described
    in the Chronicle is that "Caltech and its faculty members jointly
    own and retain rights to journal articles and license those
    copyrights to publishers on a limited basis." The key factor here
    is that there be JOINT ownership by faculty members AND the
    institution, and what would this mean in practice if not that the
    institution had effective control over the individual person's
    copyright and future distribution? This is fundamentally contrary
    to the principle underlying the Los Alamos archive and -- I would
    have thought -- fundamentally at odds with Professor Harnad's own
    convictions about authors and copyright. Given the unusually high
    esteem in which Professor Harnad's views on this are held, and for
    good reason, some clarification of this point is surely in order.

 Joseph Ransdell <> or <>
 Department of Philosophy, Texas Tech University, Lubbock TX 79409
 Area Code 806: 742-3158 office 797-2592 home 742-0730 fax
 ARISBE: Peirce Telecommunity website -
Received on Tue Aug 25 1998 - 19:17:43 BST

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