Re: Chron. High. Ed. 18 September on Cal Tech & Copyright

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Wed, 16 Sep 1998 13:57:03 +0100

On Wed, 16 Sep 1998, Joseph Ransdell <> wrote:

> it seems clear that [Koonin]
> is talking about some kind of copyright arrangement that effectively
> gives ownership to the university, whatever the detail may be, and this
> surely cannot be what you have been urging so vigorously for so long.
> The proposal described
> in the Chronicle is that "Caltech and its faculty members jointly
> own and retain rights to journal articles and license those
> copyrights to publishers on a limited basis." The key factor here
> is that there be JOINT ownership by faculty members AND the
> institution, and what would this mean in practice if not that the
> institution had effective control over the individual person's
> copyright and future distribution? This is fundamentally contrary
> to the principle underlying the Los Alamos archive and -- I would
> have thought -- fundamentally at odds with Professor Harnad's own
> convictions about authors and copyright.

The idea of joint ownership of research reports by the author and the
author's institution needs to be analyzed in detail, but, on the face of
it, it is not obvious that it would diminish the rights or conflict with
the needs of the authors of refereed-journal papers (the only literature
to which my own writing on this subject is pertinent).

(Elliott Lieb <> is the relevant
expert/advocate in the area of authorial rights.)

Where there is no question of seeking royalty or fee for the text, one's
university can only be an ally, one would think.

But please let us not confuse this question with that of royalty- or
fee-based writing, as of books, popular magazine articles, etc.
That is another kettle of fish, as is the question of software
copyright, patents, etc.

Stevan Harnad
Received on Tue Aug 25 1998 - 19:17:43 BST

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