Re: Copyright: Form, Content, and Prepublication Incarnations

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Mon, 12 Nov 2001 11:47:28 +0000

On Mon, 12 Nov 2001, Richard Poynder wrote:

> as a freelance journalist I can tell you that at least
> one UK national newspaper sent out a form to its freelancers last year
> asking them to, amongst other things, "waive" their moral rights -- the aim
> being I believe to be able to build up their article database without the
> tiresome addition of bylines (and maybe also with an eye to the Tasini
> ruling). This is as near transferring your rights as it gets I would think.

True, but irrelevant to Elsevier, and the refereed-journal literature
that is the concern of this Forum.

    1. Five Essential PostGutenberg Distinctions:
    1.1. Distinguish the non-give-away literature from the give-away literature

Journalists work for-fee (free-lance) or salary. They write their texts
as works for hire. Their texts are not author give-aways. For that reason,
they are in exactly the same category as the non-give-away books which
are likewise not the focus of this Forum.

On the contrary, it is most important to distinguish the author
give-aways that are the concern of this forum (refereed research
papers) from the rest of the literature (non-give-aways) as the two
have been needlessly forced to share the same Procrustean Bed
PostGutenberg for far too long already, to the great cost of research
and researchers!

Please, in interviewing Elsevier, do not conflate refereed journal articles,
written by scientists and scholars to be given away for free (to maximaize
their research impact) with newspaper or magazine articles, written by
journalists for income. The disanalogy could not be more extreme.

I suggest you focus instead on the only substantive question to address
to refereed journal publishers (unless you want to be flooded with
irrelevant pieties about pricing, "value added," licensing, etc., etc.),
namely: What is Elsevier copyright transfer policy regarding online
self-archiving by Elsevier authors.

(And then be vigilant for flummery about untenable distinctions between
"personal websites" and "public websites" -- the distinction being
incoherent and unenforceable, both legally and practically, public
online self-archiving being public online self-archiving in any case,
and an author's own institutional website being a public eprint website
as of the advent of OAI and the resulting eprint archive

Even publisher copyright policy is relevant only in a symbolic sense,
for an over-restrictive copyright policy might be wrongly PERCEIVED by
some authors as a legal deterrent to freeing their refereed papers
online by self-archiving them (whereas of course there is a legal way
to self-archive them even in the face of the most restrictive copyright
transfer policy).

    6. How to get around restrictive copyright legally

    Legal ways around copyright for one's own giveaway texts

And be sure you are not misled into conflating a journal's
submission/embargo policy (the "Ingelfinger Rule"), which is not a
legal matter at all, with bona fide copyright policy.

    Copyright, Embargo, and the Ingelfinger Rule

    PostGutenberg Copyrights and Wrongs for Give-Away Research

Stevan Harnad
Received on Mon Nov 12 2001 - 11:48:30 GMT

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