Re: Legal ways around copyright for one's own giveaway texts

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Sat, 8 Jul 2000 20:45:11 +0100

On Sat, 8 Jul 2000, Christopher D. Green wrote:

> Please explain this to me one more time. How can we self-archive our
> published papers without breaking our legal contracts with the papers'
> publishers, and without risking being sued by them for breach of contract?
> (Of course, we may be willing to do these things, but your statement seems
> to suggest that we can self-archive without taking such risks.)

There are 22 postings about this on:

(the 2nd 14 unfortunately on a variant subject-header):

Legal ways around copyright for one's own giveaway texts (8 messages)
Legal ways around copyright for one own's giveway texts (14 messages)

See also:

Here is quick synopsis of the steps/logic involved:

(1) Self-archive all pre-refereeing preprints. These precede submission
and are not bound by any prior legal agreement.

(2) After refereeing, revision, and acceptance, if the copyright
transfer agreement asks for a transfer of all rights for the final
refereed draft to the publisher, first propose modifying the wording of
the agreement: Agree to transfer to the publisher all rights to SELL
the paper, on-paper or on-line; retain only your right to self-archive
it for free on-line.

(3) If the modified agreement is accepted by your publisher,
self-archive the post-refereeing postprint.

(4) If the modified agreement is not accepted by your publisher, sign
the original agreement and self-archive only a list of the changes that
have to be made in the (already-archived) preprint to transform it into
the postprint.

(Ask me about "embargos" and the "Ingelfinger Rule" separately: they
are not even matters of copyright and legality.)

Why is it so simple to do this legally? Because copyright is designed
to protect intellectual property from theft; your paper is your
intellectual property. If you want to give it away, that is your
prerogative. Copyright agreements were never designed with give-away
work in mind; they were designed for royalty/fee-based work where the
author and the publisher have a common stake in the sales, and in
preventing theft. (A book author or a CD recording artist or a commercial
software writer would never put his intellectual property up on the
Web, free for all before publishing it.)

The refereed research literature was always an anomaly in this respect;
in the Gutenberg era there was no way to resolve that anomaly; in the
PostGutenberg era there is.

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):

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Received on Mon Jan 24 2000 - 19:17:43 GMT

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