Re: "Authors Re-using Their Own Work"

From: Couture Marc <couture.marc_at_TELUQ.UQAM.CA>
Date: Fri, 31 Jul 2009 15:22:06 -0400

On Mon, Jul 27, 2009 at 7:19 AM,<> wrote:


> CO: The query referred to cases where the author has ASSIGNED

> copyright to Sage.  Sage then owns the copyright and is perfectly

> entitled to say what can be done with the article. Crucially, if

> something is not mentioned as permitted, it is forbidden. So if you

> have assigned copyright to Sage, you cannot do anything other than

> those things listed as permitted by Sage.


One should stress that no copyright owner can prevent a user doing
something that is allowed under one of the so-called exceptions which
are part of copyright laws, like fair use (in US) and fair dealing
(in Canada, UK and Australia).


For instance, US Copyright law (§107) states :


[...] the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by
reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means
specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment,
news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom
use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.


In the all the jurisdictions I mentioned, the exceptions allow for
distribution of copies (and note that "copy" is in no way restricted
to "print copy") on an individual basis for research purposes, as
embodied in the traditional practice referred to by Harnad or, more
recently, in the "request button",


It is true that some criteria must be met for such a use to be
considered fair, most notably the effect of the use upon the market.
But should a case concerning the "fairness" of the request button be
brought before a court, the publisher would have to demonstrate that
this particular act has indeed significantly reduced its earnings. If
it was the case, it would mean that the scenario of green OA
endangering journals has become a reality, something that may happen
in the future as Harnad (among others) dutifully points out.


In the meantime, authors should not hesitate to send copies to those
who are interested in (and don't have access to) their closed-access
(embargoed or otherwise) scholarly articles: after all, one can
hardly imagine other uses than research for these specialized works.


I will conclude that there are other instances where copyright owners
have tried to restrict the uses more than what these exceptions
allow. In fact, much of the debate about the anti-copying measures
that are part of Digital Rights Management (DRM) has focussed upon
the fact that such measures, which were meant to restrict unlawful
acts, will also restrict lawful ones. So we must remain alert (and
somewhat sceptical) when trying to decipher what uses a publisher
allow (or forbid).


Marc Couture

Télé-université (Université du Québec à Montréal)





De : American Scientist Open Access Forum
De la part de Stevan Harnad
Envoyé : 27 juillet 2009 07:02
Objet : "Authors Re-using Their Own Work"



On 27-Jul-09, at 5:39 AM, [identity deleted] wrote:

Hello Stevan,

Could I ask you to have a quick look at SAGE's terms for "Authors
Re-using Their Own Work"?  It seems to me that it forbids the "email
eprint request" button:

(The link is from this page: )

It says you can distribute photocopies of the published article to
your colleagues on an individual basis, but not electronic versions. 
On my reading, there's a 12-month embargo on circulating electronic
copies of the refereed version of the article in any way.  Wouldn't
this prohibit the "email eprint request"


(1) The SAGE "author-re-use"document says "You can distribute photocopies." It does not say "You cannot 
distribute electronic versions." It simply does not
say "You can distribute electronic versions."


(2) There are many other things the SAGE "author-re-use"
document does not say you can do with your own work, including that
you can distribute corrected versions, laminated versions, or
versions in Gothic script.


(3) And in saying things that you can and cannot do with your own
work, the SAGE "author-re-use" document is not restricting itself to
the things a publisher can and cannot tell you that you can and
cannot do with your own work. For example, publisher "permissions"
regarding what you can and cannot do with your pre-submission
preprint prior to acceptance of the refereed postprint are rather
far-fetched (e.g., making corrections in it).


(4) But the short answer to your query is this: No, there is nothing
either defensible or enforceable that a publisher can do or say to
prevent a researcher from personally distributing individual copies
of his own research findings to individual researchers, for research
purposes, in any form he wishes, analog or digital, at any time. That
is what researchers have been doing for many decades, whether or not
their right to do so was formally enshrined in a
publisher's "author-re-use" document.


SAGE is a ROMEO pale-green

That means they endorse authors making their pre-refereeing preprints
Open Access immediately (and they endorse making authors'  refereed
postprints Open Access after a one-year embargo). During the embargo,
SAGE authors (like any authors) are of course free to send an
individual copy (whether analog or digital) of their refereed
postprint to any individual user who requests an individual copy for
research purposes. Nor is SAGE or any publisher entitled to dictate
to the author how they may lick the stamp or stroke the key that will
mail or email the reprint or eprint to the requester.


If I may make one suggestion to researchers who are puzzling over
what they can and cannot do with their published research articles:
Please use common sense rather than falling into (or for) formalistic


Stevan Harnad
Received on Sat Aug 01 2009 - 00:28:28 BST

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