Moral rights in corrigenda

From: Chris Zielinski <informania_at_SUPANET.COM>
Date: Mon, 18 Feb 2002 17:22:14 -0000


The theory that authors could claim moral rights to corrigenda is fine,
but I think in practice it would not hold up. Typically, a final
canonical text arises as a result of a group effort including the author
and a "support team"; this effort is traditionally ascribed to the
author, as it would be difficult and considered of no economic value to
separate out the individual handiwork that took the originally submitted
ur-version to printed canonical version. Corrigenda consist of 1)
revisions introduced by the author (as a result of reviewer comments,
from new data, whimsically, etc.), 2) substantive, editorial, stylistic
and other changes introduced by the editor (copy editor, proof reader,
managing editor, passing tea-boy). Given this reality, I find the
situation regarding both practicality and moral rights problematic.

However, when you propose to include corrigenda as an add-on to a
preprint, I am not sure this works. First of all, consider the
complexity involved in trying to provide readers with the bloodbath of
edit-tracking that would represent some heavily edited papers - papers
which have had their heading systems and structure significantly
modified, sections transposed, tables inverted, added or deleted and the

And then, in any corrigendum presented sequentially ("Line 24, FOR brain
READ drain", line 27 FOR Franny READ Zooey), you would be separating out
the work done by each member of the "support team" - in public for the
first time, and with a claim of moral rights to it all, despite the fact
that the author was only responsible for corrections 1, 3, 17 and 23,
while the copy editor introduced 2,5,etc., the managing editor
rearranged the heading system and proposed the change in the tables that
made the data intelligible, etc.

Sorry if I'm labouring the point, but I see problems 1) in terms of
practicality of rendering all changes in intelligible corrigenda , and
2) in asserting moral rights over such corrigenda.

Chris Zielinski
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On Thu, 14 Feb 2002, Chris Zielinski wrote:

> In preprint archives... the
> author's original is the canonical version and this is the version to
> which the integrity right applies. When the postprint is placed on the
> server, this replaces the preprint as the new "integral", canonical
> version. I'm not sure how this can apply to the "corrigendum" option
> Stevan's self-archiving methodology. Does the author assert the
> integrity right to the preprint and to the corrigenda?

Yes, the author asserts the integrity right to the preprint and to the
corrigenda. And of course also to the final draft (postprint) that has
appeared in the journal.

All three texts are the author's intellectual property. The author
retains full copyright (right to make, distribute, sell copies to
others) in the first two (preprints and corrigenda), and the postprint
remains his intellectual property too (no one else may claim to have
authored it), but the right to sell (exact!) copies has been transfered
to the publisher (in the case of some, but by no means all journals).


> More vexing is the question of how any form of integrity right can fit
> in with copyleft - or any of the other moral rights
> (attribution/misattribution). If you feel that the identity of the
> "original" (?) author is of any importance, then surely the idea of
> releasing text under copyleft is to be resisted?

Anything that allows theft-of-authorship (plagiarism) or distortion
of text is not acceptable.

> Stevan Harnad wrote:
> >
> > [. . .] Apart from wanting to be
> > properly credited for its authorship (i.e., protected from
> > and to be ensured that the text is not altered or corrupted in any
> I have to confess that I have no real idea what this latter
> condition really means. Misattribution of authorship for
> subsequent revisions and work is certainly an issue, but
> just what does it mean for the author to assert that the
> text is not to be altered or corrupted?

It means that copies must be verbatim, and the authorship and original
locus of publication must be clearly stated. It also means that, apart
from explicit quoting or excerpting (where the source and locus must
again be explicitly specified) there mayt be no alteration in
reproducing the text.

Stevan Harnad

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Received on Mon Feb 18 2002 - 19:18:15 GMT

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