Re: "Copyleft" article in New Scientist

From: Alan Story <>
Date: Tue, 12 Feb 2002 13:01:44 -0000


On your point about " different circumstances", I would suggest that the "
Creative Commons" project --- see the link that "Arthur" passed on this
a.m.--- is worth further study and commentary.

Alan Story

-----Original Message-----
From: September 1998 American Scientist Forum
Sent: Tuesday 12 February 2002 12:24
Subject: Re: "Copyleft" article in New Scientist

I seems to me that the problem with copyright is that you have it whether or
not you want to use it. Those who want to use what you own have no way of
telling whether or not you want to enforce your rights or not, or to what
degree you might wish to enforce or waive them. What is needed is an
internationally recognised system for indicating just what owners are happy
to allowin different circumstances. I hope to be working with an
international agency on thisissue shortly.

GrahamP Cornish
Copyright consultant

----- Original Message -----
From: "Bernard Lang" <>
Sent: Tuesday, February 12, 2002 11:03 AM
Subject: Re: "Copyleft" article in New Scientist

> I do agree that toll-free access is the only essential issue, at this
> time, and that mixing it with free software or open-content licences can
> only muddle the issues ... at least where public discussions are
> concerned, and current public action.
> Considering alternative licences is however an interesting topic,
> and ON A PERSONAL BASIS, authors can well chose to grant even more
> freedom than called for by advocates of toll-free access to the
> peer-reviewed research literature. I personally do allow people to
> modify my papers, as long as it is clear who wrote what. Basically,
> it allows for direct reuse of fragments of papers in other work. Just
> my choice.
> I am also concerned with fighting the data-base legislation, which
> can also get in the way.
> My licence is at:
> If you are interested in variations and analyses of licences, for
> text and other types of resources ... see
> The page is in French, but it refers to documents in French and
> English. I unfortunately cannot handle other languages. It has four
> sections: licences for software, licences for text and/or for artistic
> content, references to other sites, references to documents analyzing
> licences.
> I would like to point out that for textbooks, when the author is
> WILLING, the situation is much like software. Textbooks are often
> complex, and there are documents and management tools very similar to
> what would constitute source code. Also, textbook often need
> maintenance, to correct mistakes, make addition, follow the evolution
> of the field, adapt to a specific teaching situation.
> Free-software-like licences are then very useful.
> I do know one case of an author fighting to get his textbook out of
> the clutches of the publisher. The reason is that the textbook needs
> maintenance to survive, and he no longer has the time to do it
> himself, nor has anyone else, given the huge size of the book. The only
> manageable solution is to let experts separately improve the sections
> for which they are competent: This is pretty much an encyclopedia of
> internet programming. Encyclopedias are actually a good example of
> cooperative creation in the text world.
> More generally, similar issues arise regarding the creation, evolution
> and maintenance of educational resources.
> But I do agree that these are problems quite different from the specific
> on of toll-free access to the refereed research literature.
> Bernard
> On Sun, Feb 10, 2002 at 03:21:39PM +0000, Stevan Harnad wrote:
> > On Sun, 10 Feb 2002, Seth Johnson wrote:
> >
> > > Okay. As long as you're dealing with expressive wholes,
> > > you're standing on legal precedent.
> > >
> > > It would help if some stipulations were made to assure that
> > > it's clear you're talking about the original presentations,
> > > presentations to which the author asserts authoritative
> > > origin, and presentations of originality that may be false.
> > > The factual elements of any expressive work are fair game.
> > > This is essential from the standpoint of free online
> > > collaboration.
> >
> > Here is a good rule of thumb for advocates of toll-free access to the
> > peer-reviewed research literature:
> >
> > Don't aspire to be more royalist than the king, or more papist than the
> > pope!
> >
> > What was enough for those who got access via tolls should also be enough
> > for those who get access toll-free. No need to stipulate any more.
> >
> > OF COURSE the readers of articles in peer-reviewed journals are
> > free to take the ideas and findings in those articles and build on them
> > as they see fit in their own work. That's the very reason why the
> > researchers published it in the first place!
> >
> > What we are referring to here is not the ideas and findings that are
> > reported. Their usability was never in dispute. We are talking here
> > about access to the TEXT. And it is the TEXT that may not be corrupted,
> > or assigned a false authorship.
> >
> > (Moreover, using findings without citing their source is not a violation
> > of copyright, though it may be exposable and punishable as violation
> > of priority or even plagiarism in other senses.)
> >
> > These confusions come, again, I think, because of putting too much
> > weight on the weak analogies between access to text and access to other
> > things, such as software or music, and perhaps also on weak analogies
> > between copyright and patent. When this happens, we are dealing with
> > MISanalogies and not analogies, and we are better to remind ourselves
> > of what the "use" of refereed journal articles has been all along,
> > independent of whether it was accessed for-fee or for-free.
> >
> > Stevan Harnad
> --
> Non aux Brevets Logiciels - No to Software Patents
> ,_ /\o \o/ Tel +33 1 3963 5644
> ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Fax +33 1 3963 5469
> INRIA / B.P. 105 / 78153 Le Chesnay CEDEX / France
> Je n'exprime que mon opinion - I express only my opinion
Received on Tue Feb 12 2002 - 13:23:42 GMT

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