Re: Copyright FAQ for refereed journal authors

From: Graham Cornish <Graham.Cornish_at_MAIL.BL.UK>
Date: Thu, 21 Oct 1999 11:16:27 +0100

     Two other approaches sometimes work (and sometimes they
     HAVE to work!!)

     1. The author declines to assign copyright completely
     as s/he has prepared the paper a part of her/his work
     and therefore the copyright legally belongs to the
     employer whose policy is not to assign copyright
     exclusively. This is true of all works created by
     Crown employees as directed by several Cabinet Office
     notices but many major companies and, increasingly,
     universities, take the same approach. In a nutshell -
     I cannot assign what I do not own!

     2. Agree to assign copyright totally but IN RETURN be
     given back a selected range of rights such as (a) to
     use the paper as a basis for other papers (b) use the
     paper in a conference context (c) be allowed to
     disseminate copies of the paper (whether published or
     nor) to colleagues within your own institution or
     working in the same academic area.

     Graham Cornish
     Copyright Officer
     British Library

______________________________ Reply Separator _________________________________
Subject: Copyright FAQ for refereed journal authors
Author: Stevan Harnad <> at Internet
Date: 12/10/1999 11:40

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 12 Oct 1999 11:42:12 +0200 (CEST)
From: Stefano Ghirlanda <>
To: Stevan Harnad <>
Cc:,,,,, Richard Stallman <>,,,,,,
    Ann Okerson <>,
    Guedon Jean-Claude <guedon_at_LITTCO.UMontreal.CA>,
    Andrew Odlyzko EJ <>,
Subject: Re: Copyright FAQ for refereed journal authors


Copyright HOWTO - second draft

If you would like to ask a journal to modify their copyright policy so
that you and possibly others can post your articles on the web, you might
find the following suggestions helpful.


Some journals will accept a copyright agreement different from their
standard one if asked to, but will not offer a liberal agreement from the
beginning. We know of several journals that will leave non-commerical
distribution of a paper unrestricted if the author asks for it.

Thus, when you get the copyright-transfer form from a journal, just
send back a different, already signed one with a science-friendly
policy. You can model your requests after the American Physical
Society's (APS) policy, which can be found at:

A possible sample text is:

    I hereby transfer to [publisher or journal] all rights to sell or
    lease the text of [paper]. I retain the right only to distribute
    it for free for scholarly/scientific or educational purposes,
    in particular, the right to archive it publicly online on the Web.

More precise wording (legally speaking) can be found in the APS policy
above. It should be clear that only non-commerical distribution will be
unrestricted, and that the publisher would retain all commerical rights.


If your agreement is declined by the journal, it may prove effective to
express concern that a too restrictive copyright policy may hinder the
free circulation of scientific ideas. Say also that people's
willingness to submit to this or that journal may in the future be
influenced by their copyright policies.

Some journals are owned by scientific associations, but the copyright
is often managed by a commercial publisher. Try to go through the
association first, especially if you are or have been a member.


You can consider your time well spent even when the publisher fails to
accept your conditions. It is important that the journals know what an
author considers an important precondition for submission.


 Stefano Ghirlanda, Zoologiska Institutionen, Stockholms Universitet
    Office: D554, Arrheniusv. 14, S-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
Phone: +46 8 164055, Fax: +46 8 167715, Email:
   Support Free Science, look at:
Received on Wed Feb 10 1999 - 19:17:43 GMT

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