Re: PostGutenberg Copyrights and Wrongs for Give-Away Research

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Fri, 22 Jun 2001 16:29:46 +0100

On Fri, 22 Jun 2001, [Anonymous] wrote:

> I do not quite agree with you on the assertion that eprint services and
> personal web pages are the same; the former have the distinction of being
> maintained by some organisation which intends / commits to perpetuity and
> may add additional useful indexing metadata

They are the same, LEGALLY speaking -- no legal distinction, with
respect to copyright, can be based on the degree to which one is
more/less "public" than the other.

You are quite right, however, that there are PRACTICAL differences
between them (but those do not affect the copyright question under
discussion here, which is a legal question, about the wording for
copyright transfer agreements).

There is a HUGE difference between an author's possibly here-today/
gone-tomorrow home-page and an abiding institution's robust Eprint
Archives, backed by a preservation commitment from its library and
administration. That is why we are now putting so much emphasis on the
institutional rather than the individual solution to the problem of
freeing the refereed research literature online.

But the impossibility of making a legal distinction here is very
important anyway, for the following reason:

The biggest retardant on progress is the rate at which refereed
research CONTENT is going online -- whether in institutional eprint
archives or authors' home-pages. What is most important and most urgent
at this time is to get that content up there. Once it is up there,
there will be many, many ways to make it more secure and permanent. (We
at Southampton, for example, and others, are designing software that
will automatically copy papers from authors' arbitrary home-page
archives to OAI-compliant Eprint Archives.)

So needless worries about permanence and preservation should not be
allowed to hold back content: Go ahead and archive it, even in your
author's home-page, now, if need be (google and researchindex will find
it for now). And tomorrow will take care of itself (with the
help of those committed to both the Open Archives Initiative and the
Self-Archiving Initiative: (

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 Jan 03 2001 - 19:17:43 GMT

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