Re: Science 4 September on Copyright

From: Martin Blume <> <harnad_at_COGSCI.SOTON.AC.UK>
Date: Fri, 11 Sep 1998 05:18:14 -0400

Martin Blume, Editor in Chief, American Physical Society:

The issue that has been raised in the "Transition from Paper" article
(Bachrach et al., 1998) is really the right of an author to be free from
restraints in circulating his/her ideas. Keeping copyright is just one
way of accomplishing this, but it's not the only one. The signatories
of the paper believe that an author should not be penalized and should
be free to announce results in advance of publishing, to post or update
articles on an eprint server, to circulate an article from a web page,
and to distribute reprints electronically or otherwise. Since many
publishers, Science included (Bloom 1998), prohibit one or another of
these desireable "rights" we have put forward copyright retention for
consideration as a solution. The central issues are in my view the
rights and not merely copyright.

The American Physical Society, of which I am Editor-in-Chief,
recognizes those rights explicitly in its copyright form. The author
transfers copyright to the Society, but retains the rights enumerated
above. The reverse situation, where the author retains copyright but
gives a license to the publisher, would be acceptable to us if the
license were sufficiently broad to allow us to do, in future, whatever
we want to do with the article. We have just put on line all of
Physical Review back to 1985 (100,000 articles!), and expect eventually
to go back to 1893. We would not have been able to do this if we had a
license to publish these earlier works but no mention had been made in
that license of electronic distribution. We need to be able to do the
unforeseen as well as the foreseen in order to assure the widest
possible distribution of the information, which is ultimately the goal
of any scholarly publisher. This must be done while we, at the same
time, recover our costs for added value. We have to date managed to do
this, but must be imaginative in the future as the world changes.

One further point that has been introduced into the discussion is the
idea that a copyright holder is more likely than a licensee to pursue
plagiarists. I do not believe this. Plagiarism is not prosecuted
because it is a copyright violation. Any learned society would pursue
plagiarists because plagiarism is grossly unethical and strikes at the
heart of the scholarly process.

Martin Blume <>
Editor in Chief
American Physical Society



    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. (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
Received on Tue Aug 25 1998 - 19:17:43 BST

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