Re: FOS Newsletter Excerpts

From: Peter Suber <>
Date: Sat, 8 Dec 2001 09:24:35 +0000

On Fri, 7 Dec 2001 Joseph Pietro Riolo <riolo_at_VOICENET.COM> wrote:

> ps> ...The preprint is not covered by the transfer of copyright of the
> ps> refereed final draft...
>As I mentioned before in this discussion group, this statement is not
>wholly correct. It all depends on how the agreement, contract, or any
>legal document is written. It could cover preprint; it could exclude
>preprint. Moreover, there is no legal basis for your general

A publisher may make two demands: (1) that you transfer the copyright
to your final draft to the publisher and (2) that you remove the
preprint from the web. These are independent demands in the sense that
you may accede to one or both or neither. The legal basis of this
position is that a contract or transfer agreement about document A is
not about document B. To include a demand about B in the contract about
A is simply to make two demands in the same piece of paper.

> ps> ...Then authors will be at liberty to put their refereed postprints
> ps> in public archives, free for all.
>Don't be too sure. The copyright will last for 70 years after the death
>of author and the estate of the author may impose the control over the
>access to the author's articles. The estate of Martin Luther King, Jr.
>is a living proof.

True but beside the point. If authors hold the copyright to their
articles, then they are free to put the articles online free of charge
for readers. I didn't say that the articles would stay online for
eternity, and of course I needn't say so. Apart from contrary heirs,
there is always the heat death of the sun to consider. What does this
have to do with the author's rights?

> ps> In short, I want a legal basis to oppose plagiarists, who would put
> ps> their name on my work, and for-profit aggregators, who would bundle it in a
> ps> package for sale. For more details, see the statement to which I link just
> ps> below my copyright declaration (
>How are you going to enforce it? Your newsletter mentioned LOCKSS which
>stands for "Lots of Copies Keeps Stuff Safe". A bad guy can copy your
>newsletter (or any of your works), make some changes here and there,
>replace your name with his pseudonym, and quietly post the newly altered
>copy to some newsgroups and web servers. By the time you find out the
>violation of your copyright, many copies of the unauthorized derivative
>work are already saved at many places in the Internet.

I never said enforcement would be easy. But I'd rather have a legal
basis for enforcement than to have none.

LOCKSS makes it impossible to be sure that all the copies of your
plagiarist's plagiarism have been deleted from the net. But it has no
effect on the liability of your plagiarist or the difficulty of
ascertaining his or her identity.

Peter Suber, Professor of Philosophy
Earlham College, Richmond, Indiana, 47374

Editor, The Free Online Scholarship Newsletter
Received on Sat Dec 08 2001 - 09:25:42 GMT

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