Re: Evolving Publisher Copyright Policies On Self-Archiving

From: Hugo Alroe <>
Date: Fri, 15 Nov 2002 14:48:17 +0000

I plan on asking the major publishers what their policies are in relation to
eprint archives and, since this initiative may impinge on other eprint
archives, I would be interested in any comments you may have on this.

Linda Humphreys, Science Faculty Librarian at the University of Bath wrote
on the Free Online Scholarship discussion forum (link at on the 2. october 2002 that she would
be interested in setting up a web site which gives links to the copyright
policies of publishers and/or journals. I wrote to her a couple of weeks ago
to hear how this progressed and inquiring the possibilities for joining
forces, but I have not yet received an answer. I am not sure if the existing
publisher policies are sufficiently clear on these issues, however, and I
have therefore put together a letter to some major publishers, inquiring
what their policies are in relation to eprint archives (draft letter
appended below). The background for the letter is as follows.

We (The Danish Research Centre for Organic Farming) have recently
established an eprint archive, which is a bit special in the sense that we
connect the financing of public research projects (total some 8 million Euro
per year) with a demand that the research products are made available in an
eprint archive. In the evaluation of the projects we only include the
(electronic) products that are in the archive. This demand means that
researchers are forced to upload documents in spite of any doubts and
concerns they may have - and they do have concerns. They are particularly
uncertain about copyright restrictions on postprints and reprints and about
possible embargo policies that would restrict the possibilities for
publishing preprints that are deposited in an archive with open access.

We have to address those concerns. Our immediate answer is to give them the
possibility to restrict access to their eprints. Access can be restricted to
"Registered users only" and even to "Depositor and archive staff only".
Access restrictions of course go against the open access idea and the
usefullness of the archive. Our longterm answer therefore includes working
towards clarifying publishers policies in relation to online archiving and
changing restricting policies.

I hope to send out the letter to the publisher ceo's within a couple of
weeks. Sending a letter from just one archive is the easy but perhaps not
the best way - if you are interested in joining forces, please let me know.
If you have any comments on the letter and the initiative as such, I would
be very pleased to receive them - especially if you think this is the wrong
way to go about it.

Kind regards
Hugo Alroe

____________Draft letter to major publishers_________________________

Dear Publisher

We have established an eprint archive in the field of organic agricultural
research, called Organic Eprints ( An eprint is an
electronic document with attached metadata such as bibliographical
information, publishing details, and abstract. The whole production of
scientific papers, books, magazine articles, etc. from the Danish Research
Centre for Organic Farming is to be deposited in this archive from now on.
The purpose is twofold: to document the production of papers to those who
finance the research, and to improve the quality of the research and the
papers by facilitating communication with peers and users. The initiative
was highly appreciated in a recent international evaluation and other
organic research organizations may join the archive later on.

Depositing a paper in the archive does not count as publishing; papers are
published as usual for this field of research. This is analogous to the
situation in physics, where a large eprint archive (
coexists with the traditional physics journals.

As a part of our services to the authors who use the Organic Eprints
archive, we wish to clarify some issues related to online archiving of
papers. We are especially concerned with copyright issues and any possible
'embargo' policies that would restrict the opportunities for getting a
deposited preprint published in a scientific journal.

We would therefore like to inquire what your policy is on the copyright
issue and the embargo issue. When we have received your answer, we will make
your policy known to our users together with our advice to them concerning
archive deposits and future publishing.

The copyright issue
What is your policy on the depositing of postprints (papers that have been
accepted for publication after peer review) and reprints (reprints of a
published paper) in our archive? In particular: do you require an access
restriction on these eprints?

At present, there are three access levels in the archive: open access to the
internet public, access to registered users only, and access to depositor
and archive staff only. Archive staff may include editors and evaluators
that are granted access to papers from a specific organization. The last and
very strict access level is mainly to be used for source-files and in case
the author has doubts concerning the two policy issues (this access level is
obviously not very helpful in making the archive into a communicative tool).

We would like for our authors to be able to deposit their papers with as
open access as possible. But we are also aware that it might only be
possible to give registered user access to reprints of journal papers.

The embargo issue
What is your policy on the depositing of preprints (papers that have not yet
been accepted for publication after peer review) in our archive? In
particular do you as a publisher, or any of the individual journals that you
publish, enforce a socalled 'embargo' policy (a policy that, as a rule,
excludes preprints that have been deposited in an open archive from being
considered for publication)?

We hope to hear from your soon. If you have not yet decided your policy on
one or both issues, please let us know that this is the case.

Kind regards
Hugo Fjelsted Alrĝe, Administrator of the Organic Eprints archive.

Hugo Fjelsted Alrĝe
Postdoctoral Scientist
Danish Research Centre for Organic Farming -
Forskningscenter Foulum
Postboks 50, DK-8830 Tjele
Phone: +45 8999 1679
Fax: +45 8999 1673
Personal workpage:
Received on Fri Nov 15 2002 - 14:48:17 GMT

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