Re: Authors "Victorious" in UnCover Copyright Suit

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Thu, 10 Aug 2000 17:48:37 +0100

On Thu, 10 Aug 2000, David Goodman wrote:

> I agree with Al that Steve is missing the point of the decision.
> The authors in this suit are not the authors of scholarly journal articles,
> they are the authors of articles in relatively high-circulation periodicals
> (like his example of New scientist) who are paid specifically for their work,
> article by article. What's more, unlike the authors in scholarly periodicals,
> they have in many cases expressly NOT transferred the copyright to the
> publisher, but sold the publisher only "first serial rights." A particular
> journal of this sort will typically contain articles to which the publisher
> has all rights, and articles to which the publisher does not.

I am not missing the point. I am stressing a crucial distinction, so as
to prevent the refereed journal literature from continuing to have its
fate linked to the non-give-away literature, whose writers write for
fees or royalties. My recommendations having nothing to do with the
latter, and everything to do with the former; the distinction must be
made, and what is right for the one is not right for the other.

(I normally repeat ritually, like a mantra "the non-give-away literature
= books and magazine articles written for royalty or fee" but I used a
short-hand this time and said only books!)

But I am fairly sure that Al Henderson is not just referring to the
royalty/fee literature...

> Uncover had been reprinting these materials, whose copyright they neither
> owned nor licensed. They paid royalties to the publisher, who in many cases
> did not own the copyright, and had no legal right to the royalties. The
> publisher of course, should have forwarded this money to the people entitled
> to it.
> I hope that as scholarly authors increasingly retain copyright in their own
> work rather than transferring it to the publisher, that we can find ways to
> make it clear to services like Uncover that in most such cases we do not
> expect them to pay us or anyone royalties, without causing difficulties to
> authors who have the right to such payment, expect it, and make their living
> from it.

I agree completely. But see the threads on Copyright in this Forum:
This is why it is so crucial to make the give-away/non-give-away
distinction. Because all concerns about "intellectual property," "fair
use" and copyright protection from theft-of-text are concerns for the
NON-GIVE-AWAY literature ONLY. Only copyright protection from
theft-of-authorship is relevant to the give-away literature; apart from
that, all its authors want is to ensure their right to give it away!
They want none of the copyright "victory" represented by this UnCover
lawsuit, and that has to be made crystal clear to everyone, given how
confused most people still are about all this, and how it is their
confusion that may be holding them back from self-archiving, and hence
from the optimal and inevitable (for the give-away literature)...

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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