Re: Open Archiving: What are researchers willing to do?

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Wed, 17 Nov 1999 12:15:02 +0000

On Tue, 16 Nov 1999, Marvin Margoshes wrote:

sh> It is an awakening to what is actually at stake here for research and
sh> researchers, and how fundamentally different the copyright function is
sh> for the fee/royalty-based literature, for which it was intended, as
sh> opposed to the give-away literature that is at issue here: the refereed
sh> journal literature.

mm> You base your argument on a distinction; does copyright law make that
mm> distinction? Not to my knowledge, but I'm willing to learn.

I base it on a distinction that has only become relevant in the
PostGutenberg era of online self-archiving of give-away work by its own

Older Copyright agreements are not explicit about Web self-archiving by
the author, hence are moot. Those newer agreements drafted to include
passages explicitly forbidding Web self-archiving should only be signed
after striking out those passages (which lately include attempts to
make incoherent distinctions between permitted archiving on a "personal
server" and forbidden archiving on a "public server" -- absurd because
all "personal servers" on the Web are public! These distinctions are
based on paper publishing categories that simply have no counterpart on
the Web; hence the mootness of the older agreements).

Here are some excerpts from CogPrints' Copyright FAQ for authors:


  [CogPrints] CogPrints: Copyright Frequently Asked Questions

CogPrints is an author's archive; as such, it has the same relation to an
author's work as the author's home institution does, when that work is
archived on the home server (as all CogPrints authors are strongly advised
to do, in addition to archiving it in CogPrints).

It is accordingly the author who must adopt a policy about copyright. We can
only offer some generic advice:

  1. A distinction should be made between the unrefereed preprint and the
     refereed, edited, published reprint. No copyright agreement has any
     bearing on the unrefereed preprint, which can be publicly archived
     online before the refereeing even takes place.

     Hence the rest of the points below pertain only to the refereed,
     edited, published reprint. Preprints can be archived without reference
     to any copyright agreement or publisher.

     (Note, however, that a minority of journals have indicated that they
     will not referee papers that have been publicly archived online. It is
     not clear whether any attempt has been made to enforce such a policy --
     or indeed whether it would be possible to enforce it at all -- as so
     many authors are archiving their papers publicly on their home servers.

  2. If you have not signed a copyright transfer statement that cedes your
     right to publicly archive your own paper online for free, it is not
     clear that there is any problem, but if you wish to confirm this, you
     should inform your publisher that you wish to do so, and request
     confirmation that there is no legal obstacle. Some journals (such as
     all those published by the American Physical Society) explicitly permit
     public online archiving of the final published draft by the author;
     others attempt to specifically forbid it in their copyright agreements.

     Note that any copyright agreement pertains only to the final, refereed,
     edited draft that appeared or will appear in print. It does not and
     cannot cover pre-refereeing preprints or indeed any penultimate draft
     that preceded the final one. (The nature and size of the requisite
     difference between the two is to all intents and purposes arbitrary.)

  3. If you have signed a copyright transfer agreement ceding your right to
     publicly archive your own paper online for free, you should contact
     your publisher indicating that you wish to do so; matters are evolving
     rapidly in this area and publishers may well be coming around to more
     justifiable and enforceable policies.

  4. You should not sign any more such agreements. They are completely
     unjustified, and energetic steps are being taken to put an end to them
     as soon as possible. See the current copyright discussions and
     proposals in Science, Nature, American Scientist, and Chronicle of
     Higher Education, respectively:


Stefano Ghirlanda of Stockholms Universitet offers the following advice.

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.

Take the initiative

     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 (paper and online) of [paper-title]. I retain only
         the right to distribute it for free for scholarly/scientific or
         educational purposes, in particular, the right to self-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

In case of a "no"

     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 Stockholms Universitet
Campaign for the Freedom of Distribution of Scientific Work:

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


Below is the American Physical Society's Copyright form. As you will see, it
does not rule out public archiving of the unrefereed preprint or the
refereed reprint.

Date: Thu, 4 Dec 1997 14:52:47 -0700 (MST)
From: Paul Ginsparg 505-667-7353 <>
Subject: Evolving APS Copyright Policy (American Physical Society)

                         THE AMERICAN PHYSICAL SOCIETY

Under U.S. copyright law, the transfer of copyright from the author(s)
should be explicitly stated to enable the publisher to disseminate the work
to the fullest extent. The following transfer agreement must be signed and
returned to the APS Editorial Office, 1 Research Road, Box 9000, Ridge, NY
11961-9000 before the manuscript can be published. Send requests for further
information to the Administrative Editor at the above address.


Copyright to the unpublished and original article and subsequent, if necessary,
errata, including copyright to the abstract forming part thereof, entitled


submitted by the following author(s) (names of all authors)___________________


is hereby transferred to The American Physical Society (APS) for the full
term thereof throughout the world, subject to the following rights that
the author(s) may freely exercise and to acceptance of the article for
publication in a journal of APS. APS shall have the right to register
copyright to the article and the accompanying abstract in its name as
claimant, whether separately or as part of the journal issue or other medium
in which such work is included.

The author(s) shall have the following rights:
(1) All proprietary rights other than copyright, such as patent rights.
(2) The right, after publication by APS, to refuse permission to third parties
    to republish an article or a translation thereof. Those seeking reprint
    permission must seek the author(s)' permission directly, in addition to
    obtaining APS' permission. However, it is not necessary to obtain
    permission from APS [only from the author(s)] to quote excerpts from an
    article or to reprint figures or tables therefrom, as long as no more than
    25 figures and/or tables from the totality of APS journals are to be
    reprinted in a single publication.
(3) The right, after publication by APS, to use all or part of the article and
    abstract, without revision or modification, in personal compilations or
    other publications of the author's own works, including the author's
    personal web home page, and to make copies of all or part of such materials
    for the author's use for lecture or classroom purposes, provided that the
    first page of such use or copy prominently displays the bibliographic data
    and the following copyright notice: ``Copyright 19XX by The American
    Physical Society.''
(4) The right to post and update the article on e-print servers as long as
    files prepared and/or formatted by APS or its vendors are not used for that
    purpose, and as long as access to the server does not depend on payment of
    access, subscription, or membership fees. Any such posting made or updated
    after acceptance of the article for publication shall include a copyright
    notice as in (3).
(5) If the article has been prepared by an employee within the scope of his or
    her employment, the employer shall have the right to make copies of the
    work for his own internal use. If the article was prepared under a U.S.
    Government contract, the government shall have the rights under the
    copyright to the extent required by the contract.

The author(s) agree that all copies of the whole article or abstract made
under any of the above rights shall include notice of the APS copyright.

By signing this agreement, the author(s) warrant that this manuscript has not
been published elsewhere, and is not being considered for publication
elsewhere. If each author's signature does not appear below, the signing
author(s) represent that they sign this agreement as authorized agents for
and on behalf of all the authors, and that this agreement and authorization
is made on behalf of all the authors.

Author's Signature Date

Name (print)

If the manuscript has been prepared as a Work Made For Hire, the transfer
should be signed by both the employee (above) and the employer (below):

                             Name of Employer (print)

Employer's Signature Name (print) Title Date

A work prepared by a U.S. Government officer or employee* as part of his or
her official duties is not eligible for U.S. copyright. If at least one of
the authors is not in this category, that author should sign above. If all
the authors are in this category, one of the authors should sign below, and
indicate his or her affiliation.

Author's Signature Institution (e.g., NRL, NIST) Date

* Employees of national laboratories, e.g., BNL, are not U.S. Government

Stevan Harnad
Professor of Cognitive Science
Department of Electronics and phone: +44 23-80 592-582
Computer Science fax: +44 23-80 592-865
University of Southampton
Highfield, Southampton
Received on Wed Feb 10 1999 - 19:17:43 GMT

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