Re: Academic Press Journal Article Copyright Policy

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Wed, 8 Mar 2000 18:09:06 +0000

On Wed, 8 Mar 2000, Franck Ramus wrote:
> Here is what I found at Academic Press:
> ...
> 3. Personal Servers
> 3.2. When an Academic Press journal accepts the work for publication, the
> authors may post it, in its final accepted form, on their personal servers
> (but not on any organized preprint server) with a notice Accepted for
> publication in <name of journal> as of <date>, until it is published by
> Academic Press in print or electronic form.
> 3.3. After publication, authors may post their Academic Press copyrighted
> material on their own servers without permission, provided that the server
> displays as the first line of the HTML page the following notice alerting
> readers to their obligations with respect to copyrighted material: This
> material has been published in <name of journal, issue number and date, page
> numbers>, the only definitive repository of the content that has been
> certified and accepted after peer review. Copyright and all rights therein
> are retained by Academic Press. This material may not be copied or reposted
> without explicit permission.
> I'd be interested to hear your comments about such a policy. the point i'd
> like to raise is that they allow archiving on a personal server, but not on
> an organized preprint server like Cogprints. this suggests to me that, in
> order to get around it, cogprints should allow me to REGISTER my paper,
> without necessarily UPLOADING it on Cogprints. the complete reference
> together with a link to my web page would be sufficient for my paper to be
> found by a search on cogprints, and to be downloaded freely by everyone. and
> this would not break the agreement. does the Santa Fe protocol allow such a
> possibility?
> Franck Ramus
> Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience
> 17 Queen Square
> London WC1N 3AR

This specific AP policy has been discussed in this Forum before, so I
will merely summarize.

(1) The distinction between a "personal server" and an "organized
preprint server" is completely incoherent, practically, logically, and
legally. (The last time this AP policy was discussed in this Forum, the
distinction was between "personal" and "public" servers: equally
nonsensical; this new wording does not save the distinction, which
continues to be incoherent.)

Every publicly accessible site on the web is equally public. The rest
is just about what you call it, what links happen to get you to it
(and with browsers harvesting public links 24 hours a day, that's not
within anyone's control), and where it happens to be cached (sites are
being cached all the time).

(2) The same is true about the injunction against "copying" and
"reposting." Once it's up there in the sky, it can and will move around
in the sky too, and there is nothing anyone can or will do about it.

(In AP's earlier wording, the injunction was against "downloading," as
I recall; equally nonsensical, as every site from which one accesses a
website "downloads" = copies it; and there is virtually no practical
difference between "reposting" a publicly accessible web document
and just linking to it (other than that the latter wastes less disk

(3) And, yes, the Santa Fe protocol and the Open Archives Initiative
<> are definitely relevant, because they
will make university authors' "personal" archives completely
interoperable, so their contents will be searchable and retrievable
exactly as if they were all in one big archive.

This may well help make the original subversive proposal
<> -- which, after all, was
the proposal that authors self-archive all their work on their personal
servers -- the easiest and most convenient route for freeing the
literature (compared to central servers like CogPrints), especially
once the generic Santa-Fe compliant Eprints version of the CogPrints
software is completed (shortly) and available for adoption (free) by
universities for "personal self-archiving" by all their authors

The sensible thing for AP to do would be to recognize the radical
differences between the paper and online medium, and what can and cannot
be done in the latter. Formulating untenable and unenforceable
distinctions in legalistic language does not promote understanding and
it cannot hold back the inevitable, which also happens to be the optimal
for research and researchers.

AP's requirement to place the full citation, source and copyright notice
is reasonable; AP's requirement to assign to the publisher all rights to
sell or license the text in paper or online is also reasonable. But
preventing free online self-archiving by authors is neither justifiable,
feasible, nor enforceable. It will give pause only to the credulous and
unreflective, and even that only for a while longer. Better to face the
inevitable squarely. There is still an essential niche for the
publisher, and there always will be (quality-control/certification), but
the rest will have to be ceded to the new open medium.

    Harnad, S. (1998) The invisible hand of peer review. Nature [online] (5
    Nov. 1998)
    Longer version:

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

NOTE: A complete archive of this ongoing discussion of providing free
access to the refereed journal literature is available at the American
Scientist September Forum (98 & 99 & 00):

You may join the list at the site above.

Discussion can be posted to:
Received on Mon Jan 24 2000 - 19:17:43 GMT

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Fri Dec 10 2010 - 19:45:42 GMT