Re: Copyright: Form, Content, and Prepublication Incarnations

From: Joseph Pietro Riolo <riolo_at_VOICENET.COM>
Date: Thu, 15 Nov 2001 17:53:07 -0500

On Thu, 15 Nov 2001, Stevan Harnad <> wrote:
> But that is not at all the case here! There is no other publisher.
> The AUTHOR HIMSELF has publicly archived HIS OWN TEXT on-line
> Having done that, there is no way to stop the cyberjuggernaut: It
> is like having aired a text on a public-address system and trying
> to recall the airwaves.
> Now this PostGutenberg fact is definitely bad news for authors (and
> publishers) of NON-give-away on-line texts too (e.g. books and for-fee
> magazine articles), but, because both parties share the same interest,
> namely, to prevent theft-of-text, the case is less likely to arise
> (why would a non-give-away author public archive his text online?). And,
> if it is done by a third party, they both have an interest in bringing
> legal action against him. (This will not put the public genie back in
> the bottle either, but it is a deterrent to third parties.)
> > But it is NOT bad news for authors of give-away on-line texts (though
> perhaps it is still bad news for their publishers), because those
> authors do not share any interest in preventing theft-of-text: They
> welcome and benefit from it (in research uptake and impact).
> But, most important of all, THERE IS NO 3RD PARTY TO GO AFTER!
> The public self-archiving is past history. It pre-dates the signing
> of any copyright agreement. And the genie is already out of the
> bottle, forever.

This is not entirely correct. Assuming that an author transfers his
whole copyright without reservation to a publisher through an agreement
and assuming that the author has not made any other agreements with
others before then, the publisher who is the new copyright holder can
prevent any more reproduction of the copyrighted work that it now owns.
So, right after the moment when the transfer is completed, the copyright
holder can stop anyone who has the copy before the agreement is signed
from making more copies and distributing them.

While it is nearly impossible to find all unauthorized copies on
the Internet, the copyright holder always will have the legal means to
sue individuals for copyright infringement. For example, if a publisher
finds out that an individual copies a copyrighted work on a self-archiving
site without a permission from the publisher (after the transfer is
completed), the publisher can sue that individual for copyright
infringement and the owner of self-archiving site for contributing to
the copyright infringement.

In order for your approach to work, an author must not transfer
his whole copyright to anyone else any time in the future.

Joseph Pietro Riolo

Public domain notice: I put all of my expressions in this
post in the public domain.
Received on Thu Nov 15 2001 - 23:34:05 GMT

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