Re: Copyright: Form, Content, and Prepublication Incarnations

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Mon, 12 Nov 2001 14:00:08 +0000

On Mon, 12 Nov 2001, Richard Poynder wrote:

> sh> Journalists work for-fee (free-lance) or salary. They write their texts
> sh> as works for hire. Their texts are not author give-aways. For that reason,
> sh> they are in exactly the same category as the non-give-away books which
> sh> are likewise not the focus of this Forum.
> Right but one of the problems refereed literature faces is that it is
> increasingly being appropriated by commercial organistions who, in the
> pursuit of profit, don't necessarily understand (or certainly agree) with
> the distinctions you are making. So the likelihood that you will be able to
> force them into separate beds (let alone divorce them) is becoming less and
> less likely as time moves on.

The important thing is not that publishers should understand or agree.
The important thing is that researchers and their institutions and
their funders should understand (for once they understand, they will
certainly agree).

And the author give-away/non-give-away distinction is a distinction of
fact and logic, not something publishers need to be forced to agree
about! Nor is there need for any divorce. All that is needed is for
researchers to realize at last that the freeing of their refereed
(published) research papers is in their own hands: they can legally
self-archive it regardless of what their publishers' copyright transfer
policy is. (The strategy merely requires one trivial extra step if the
publisher's copyright transfer policy is of the most restrictive kind.)

With publishers, the only important thing is that their copyright
transfer policy be clearly understood by researchers, so they
understand what they need to do to free their refereed papers

That is why it is important at least to get publishers to understand
their own copyright transfer policy well enough to make it explicit!
Incoherent distinctions (such as "personal" vs. "public" self-archiving
on the web) simply perpretuate confusion. This is the confusion you
might help to dissipate if you ask the right questions.

The rest can be left to the good sense of researchers and their
institutions. Let us just clear the air of obscurity and obfuscation.

> Actually I have hit an obstacle with the [Elsevier] interview. I'm hoping
> I can resolve it, but if not I will be happy to share my experiences with
> [this Forum].

    Interview with Elsevier Science

Many thanks. (Maybe if you reassure them that you are not going after
them with the usual questions about rising prices and library serial
crises, they will be less reticent...)

Stevan Harnad

NOTE: A complete archive of the ongoing discussion of providing free
access to the refereed journal literature online is available at the
American Scientist September Forum (98 & 99 & 00 & 01):

You may join the list at the amsci site.

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Received on Mon Nov 12 2001 - 14:01:19 GMT

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