Re: Nature's vs. Science's Embargo Policy

From: Michael Eisen <mbeisen_at_LBL.GOV>
Date: Thu, 9 Jan 2003 15:19:55 -0800


In what possible way do you see this move as progressive?

Although Nature is letting authors retain copyright, the only actual rights
authors retain are the right to post the paper on a personal web site and to
reproduce the paper in course material and certain other limited printed
aggregations. The definition of personal web site is very restrictive. From
their site "It means a personal site, or portion of a site, either owned by
you or at your institution (provided this institution is not-for-profit),
devoted to you and your work." They explicitly preclude placing the papers
in an archive! ("Authors may also post a copy of their paper on their own
website once the printed edition has been published, provided that they also
provide a link from the contribution to Nature's website. 'Their own' refers
to any site devoted to them, whether owned by them or by a not-for-profit
employer. However, it does not mean open archival websites, such as those
that host collections of articles by an institution's researchers, which
would amount to a breach of our licence.")

Although these are technically new legal rights for authors, these are all
rights that authors already had in practice, since Nature would never go
after an author for posting a copy of their paper on their own website.

I see this as a cynical and somewhat sinister move towards journals moving
from the world of copyright, in which authors and the public retain many
rights, to the world of licensing, where such rights are non-existant.

In my opinion, Nature is trying to pat themselves on the back for a move in
the wrong direction, and its a testament to the success of their propaganda
campaign that some as astute and generally skeptical as you would fall for
their line.


Michael Eisen, Ph.D. (

Lawrence Berkeley National Lab and
Department of Molecular and Cell Biology
University of California at Berkeley

--Support Unrestricted Access to Scientific Publications--

----- Original Message -----
From: "Stevan Harnad" <>
Sent: Thursday, January 09, 2003 2:13 PM
Subject: Re: Nature's vs. Science's Embargo Policy

> Nature, outpacing even the highly progressive American Physical Society
> (APS), has once again led the planet's 20,000 peer-reviewed journals in
> introducing the optimal and inevitable copyright policy for the online
> era: (Many thanks to APS's Mark
> Doyle for pointing this out!)
> "From 14 February 2002 Nature Publishing Group no longer requires
> authors to sign away their copyright. Instead, we are asking for an
> exclusive licence. In return, authors will be free to reuse their
> papers in any of their future printed work, and have the right to
> post a copy of the published paper on their own websites.
> In addition, authors - and the institutions in which they work -
> will be free to use their papers in course packs."
> Sample license form:
> It is now time for the other 20,000 journals to follow suit (and
> -- attention Liz Gadd! time for ROMEO to update its records:
> NOTE: A complete archive of the ongoing discussion of providing open
> access to the peer-reviewed research literature online is available at
> the American Scientist September Forum (98 & 99 & 00 & 01 & 02):
> or
> Discussion can be posted to:
> See also the Budapest Open Access Initiative:
> the Free Online Scholarship Movement:
> the OAI site:
> and the free OAI institutional archiving software site:
Received on Thu Jan 09 2003 - 23:19:55 GMT

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Fri Dec 10 2010 - 19:46:48 GMT