Re: FOS Newsletter Excerpts

From: Peter Suber <peters_at_EARLHAM.EDU>
Date: Thu, 6 Dec 2001 14:11:15 -0500

At 05:42 AM 12/6/2001 -0500, Joseph Riolo wrote:
>On Thu, 6 Dec 2001, Peter Suber <> wrote:
> >
> > The difficulty of total deletion has one more benefit for FOS. If you put
> > an unrefereed preprint of your work on the web, well before the moment when
> > you might assign the copyright to a journal, and then later publish a
> > revised or unrevised version in a journal, the journal may ask you to
> > remove the preprint from the web. You needn't comply; but even if you try
> > to do so, the preprint will almost certainly survive in some freely
> > accessible form. A recent thread of the September98 forum discussed the
> > effect of this phenomenon on copyright negotiations.
> >
> > Thread name, "Copyright: Form, Content, and Prepublication Incarnations"
> >
> > (The topic is more explicit later in the thread than earlier.)
>This news bit overlooks one important point and that point is not
>to underestimate the monopolistic power in the copyright. There is
>no sign that the power will contract. Instead, it is expanding
>and I won't be surprised that the copyright holders in future will
>force, with the threat of lawsuit, the people and entities to remove
>the preprints from their storage.

      If you're saying that the current trajectory of copyright law is to
favor publishers over readers, I agree, and I also agree that this will
probably continue. However, that doesn't affect the case I was describing
above. The preprint is not covered by the transfer of copyright of the
refereed final draft. The most that publishers can do in this situation is
to refuse to accept the refereed final draft for publication unless the
preprint is removed from the web. But this is not an exercise of
intellectual property rights; it's just power negotiating.
      No matter how oppressive copyright law becomes, it will be irrelevant
for journals that let authors retain copyright. Today they are few in
number. But as new journals are created to respond to the problems created
by existing publishers, more and more of them will let authors retain
copyright and only ask for the right of first printing. Then authors will
be at liberty to put their refereed postprints in public archives, free for

> > Copyright (c) 2001, Peter Suber
> >
>Mr. Suber, why do you need copyright in your newsletter? Why don't
>you liberate it by putting it in the public domain? What are you
>really accomplishing with copyright in your newsletter?

      In short, I want a legal basis to oppose plagiarists, who would put
their name on my work, and for-profit aggregators, who would bundle it in a
package for sale. For more details, see the statement to which I link just
below my copyright declaration (


Peter Suber, Professor of Philosophy
Earlham College, Richmond, Indiana, 47374

Editor, The Free Online Scholarship Newsletter
Received on Thu Dec 06 2001 - 21:30:41 GMT

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