Re: PostGutenberg Copyrights and Wrongs for Give-Away Research

From: Leslie Chan <chan_at_UTSC.UTORONTO.CA>
Date: Thu, 28 Jun 2001 13:29:20 -0400

Dear Stevan,
While I am fully aware of the distinction between the "give-away" literature
and the writing-for-fee literature, I can't help but wonder if the US
Supreme Court ruling (see below) will have implications for the scholarly
literature, as publishers have been digitizing back issues of journal
articles that were published before the arrival of electronic publishing and
before there were electronic rights for authors to give away. In other
words, could authors prevent publishers from digitizing the material that
they do not have the electronic rights to, just as some publishers have been
preventing authors from self-archiving? And what would this really mean, if

Leslie Chan

The Supreme Court ruled that freelance writers must be compensated
when publishers reprint their works in electronic form. The high
court sided with National Writers' Union President Jonathan
Tasini, ruling that transferring freelance authors' articles to
CD-ROMs and online databases creates totally new editions of
those articles--not revisions, as publishers had argued. American
University professor of law Peter A. Jaszi said, "This decision
seems to be a wonderful reaffirmation of the central importance
of the creative individual in our copyright system." However,
historians Ken Burns and Doris Kearns Goodwin said the ruling
will harm intellectual research if publishers remove freelance
articles from databases.
(Chronicle of Higher Education Online, 26 June 2001)
Received on Wed Jan 03 2001 - 19:17:43 GMT

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