Re: "Copyleft" article in New Scientist

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Thu, 31 Jan 2002 17:19:35 +0000

On Thu, 31 Jan 2002, Fytton Rowland wrote:

> At 03:47 PM 1/31/02 +0000, Stevan harnad wrote:
> >
> >
> >It looks to me as if "copyleft" is just a cute label for toll-free access
> >in the special case of text (software, music, etc. are all different
> >from text). The only thing I'm not sure about is whether "copyleft"
> >ensures all the usage rights researchers might want with refereed
> >research papers.
> While those on this list favour making scholarly articles available free of
> charge on the WWW, we do not, I imagine, favour allowing others to take our
> free-of-charge material and incorporate it into their for-fee products.
> This would be piracy and possibly also plagiarism.

Let's distinguish piracy from plagiarism (and/or corruption).

If authorship and original locus of publication are clearly attributed,
it is not plagiarism. (And if the text is intact, it is not corruption.)

Piracy? But was are speaking here only about author give-away texts
(refereed journal articles), written exclusively to maximize their
uptake and impact, not to draw any royalty revenue.

So if I have eschewed royalty revenue in favour of maximizing access and
impact, why am I concerned about commercial re-sale? At worst, it won't
sell, faced with the competition from the free versions; at best, it will
add still more forms of access and potential sources to my impact-revenue!

> There therefore needs to be a way of indicating that our free material is
> not available for republication without the author's permission.

I would not want my give-away texts or my name to be used in any way
to promote, say, racism, and in that sense I would want a veto on re-use.
But just because it is being sold?

> Personally I'd have thought that marking it copyright achieves this...

It protects from plagiarism and corruption, and possibly also from
misuse of the last-mentioned kind (I'm not sure), but is it clear that
we would want "protection" from other forms of "piracy" for this
particular literature?

Stevan Harnad
Received on Thu Jan 31 2002 - 17:20:29 GMT

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