Re: Do PrePrints and PostPrints Need a Copyright Licence?

From: Imre Simon <imres_at_UOL.COM.BR>
Date: Sat, 22 Oct 2005 23:12:59 -0200

Michael Carroll <Carroll_at_LAW.VILLANOVA.EDU> wrote:

> When a green publisher permits an author to post some version of the
> article online, the publisher is silent about what rights the users
> have with respect to the article. Copyright lawyers interpret the
> green publisher's permission to the author as also the grant of an
> implied license to the public. This implied license is important
> because nearly every activity is what I call a "copyright event"
> because it implicates the rights of the copyright owner. [For more on
> this concept, see]
> But the scope of the implied license that a green publisher grants to
> the public remains fuzzy. Does the reader have a right to make a RAM
> copy of the article in order to read it? Probably. Does the reader
> have a right to print the article or save a copy to her hard drive for
> personal use? Probably. May the reader print out 50 copies and
> circulate them at a conference on the theory that each attendee could
> have printed out an individual copy? Hard to say. May an institutional
> repository repost a copy found on an author's personal web site?
> Unclear.
> A Creative Commons license answers all of the above questions
> expressly and in the affirmative. The cause of open access is
> well-served when an author retains sufficient rights to grant a
> Creative Commons license and does so. But for the time being, it is
> better than an author with the limited rights that a green publisher
> has granted exercise those rights by self-archiving today. We can
> leave for another round what steps authors, their employing
> institutions or their funders might take to ensure that authorshave
> the right to grant a Creative Commons license to the public.

I would like to take this digression a little further.

I believe that self-archiving in institutional repositories is a very
important part of the Open Access movement, but I am afraid that just
the availability of the papers in these institutional repositories is
not a solid enough solution. Why? Because what the researcher needs are
focused disciplinary or thematic digital libraries where a researcher
can find a lot of papers in the covered theme or discipline. The more
papers in the covered area he finds there the better it is. In a one
stop search he can find the paper he is looking for, instead of having
to go to dozens of institutional repositories, each one with his own
user interface.

Even more important and useful would be if the full text of the papers
could be digested (indexed) by computer programs and one could navigate
in the disciplinary library through search engines using the full text
of the papers making use of the text of all other papers as well to
determine the ranking of a given paper (number of citations, for
instance). Other navigations could be made available: through forward or
backward references, through hubs and authorities, through text
similarity or through cited bibliography similarity. A living example,
with over 700.000 papers with full text in Computer Science is CiteSeer,
<> a very useful digital library, a true
research outlet in Computer Science. The one condition that makes
CiteSeer less powerful is the fact that it is still far from complete.

Theoretically, at least, these disciplinary digital libraries could be
realized through the OAI protocols, each of them would be a "service
provider" in the OAI jargon. That is to say, the service provider would
harvest the papers in the institutional repositories, copy the full text
of the papers, index them conveniently and make its services available
to its users.

Given this scenario, I would like to pose two questions to specialists
in copyright law, which I am most certainly not.

Considering the existing permissions to self-archive, given by green
publishers, do they allow the electronic copy (by a robot) of the full
text of the self-archived papers, so that they can be indexed by an
interested service provider and allow him to deliver the services of the
type described? I think that they probably do not allow for this, but
would like to hear a more informed opinion.

The second question is this: assuming that the author would have
retained the right to distribute his paper under a Creative Commons
Attribution-NonCommercial license (or even freer than that), would that
license allow the copy and the operations dewscribed in the paragraph
above? I think that with a CC license this operation would be perfectly
legal, even by a robot, but again, I would like to hear a more informed

If my reasoning is correct, this would be another definitive and very
important difference between having or not having a CC license available
to the author to distribute his paper.

I do thank in advance for all answers.


Imre Simon
Received on Sun Oct 23 2005 - 13:28:46 BST

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