American Scientist September Forum
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Please post your comment to the thread (q.v.): "Science September 4 on Copyright"
The following proposal to change copyright argeements and funding practises so that authors can freely archive their work on the Web has just appeared in Science on Sept. 4, followed by a dissenting Editorial:

Bachrach S. et al. (1998) Intellectual Property: Who Should Own Scientific Papers? Science 281 (5382): 1459-1460. September 4 1998.

Bloom, F. (1998) EDITORIAL: The Rightness of Copyright. Science 281 (5382): 1451. September 4 1998.

For the time being, Science is allowing anyone to access both the proposal and the dissenting Editorial by Floyd Bloom (Editor, Science) for free (after some signup procedures) at:
Some excerpts:
Intellectual Property: Who Should Own Scientific Papers?
Bachrach, S., Berry, S.R., Blume, M., von Foerster, T., Fowler, A., Ginsparg, P., Heller, S., Kestner, N., Odlyzko, A., Okerson, A., Wigington, R., & Moffat, A.

EDITORIAL: The Rightness of Copyright:
Floyd E. Bloom
Questions for Reflection [SH]:

(1) Is F. Bloom's a logical or even a practical argument for full copyright transfer to publishers by refereed-journal paper authors, ceding their right to archive those papers for free public access?

(2) Is it really true that the only options are either (a) free papers, with no quality control, or (b) quality-controlled papers, but only in exchange for copyright transfer and the ensuing blockage of free access by S/SL/PPV (Subscription/Site-License/Pay-Per-View) fee barriers? (3) How many other journals reach 160K subscribers (or even 1/100 % of that)?

(4) Free posting on the Web can reach all 160K (and 100 times that).

(5) Science magazine is a hybrid trade/refereed journal. It publishes refereed articles, contributed for free, plus commissioned and paid articles by staff writers and others, for fee. Hence it is in most relevant respects not representative of the vast refereed literature of which it (and a few other journals like it, such as Nature) constitutes a minuscule portion. (6) Do we need this degree of investment? Is it worth the consequences (S/SL/PPV, fire-walls)?

(7) What is "stewardship"?

(8) What do copyright ASSIGNMENT (to the publisher) and S/SL/PPV tolls have to do with protection from plagiarism or alteration? (Doesn't copyright simpliciter already provide that, without transfer to the publisher?) (9) What if the "own use" is the provision of one's work to others, through free public archiving on the Web?

(10) Would payment for the true cost of the necessary "improvements" not be sufficient, without the need for copyright assignment, S/SL/PPV and firewalls?

[Again, this should all be considered in conjunction with the fact that Science magazine is far from representative of refereed journals, for the reasons noted above.]

Stevan Harnad
Cognitive Sciences Center
Department of Electronics and Computer Science
Southampton University
Highfield, Southampton
SO17 1BJ United Kingdom