Re: PostGutenberg Copyrights and Wrongs for Give-Away Research

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Mon, 3 Mar 2003 11:47:00 +0000

On Mon, 3 Mar 2003 Elizabeth Gadd <> wrote:

>sh> if [authors] retain the self-archiving right, that is sufficient

> I would beg to differ here. Retaining copyright is far superior to
> assigning it, even with a self-archiving concession. The reason being: if
> academics retain their copyright they are in a position to state how
> end-users may use their work (e.g. multiple copies, print, save, as long as
> author is attributed, etc). If academics assign their copyright, even if
> the publisher allows them to self-archive, end-users may only *legally* use
> that work under the restrictive constraints of copyright law (one copy for
> research and private study in the UK).

What would be a very useful exercise for those who believe that having a
full-text permenantly accessible to every web-user on the planet 24
hours a day does *not* provide all the possible uses that the author of
that give-away research want to ensure that every potential user has (in
order to maximize the paper's usage and research impact) would be to
list those extra, missing uses. Of the ones Lizzie lists above, not a
single one is not provided by permanent full-text open-access on the web:

(1) Multiple copies: Access the web as often as you like. Same for other
would-be users. No individual has more than one pair of eyes, so there
is no need for more than one web-access per human user, per use. (Same goes
for online search engines, and for any future text- or data-analyzing
software agents: they are all serial processors, though rather fast

(2) Individual human web-users may print off a copy of the full-text
whenever they wish. Pay as much attention to any purported legal
injunction not to print it off for yourself as to any purported legal
injunction to look at it on-screen with only one eye open. (But don't
bother to distribute printed copies to others: Simply distribute the URL
-- to be accessed directly by one and all for any research or "private
study" use they may wish to make of it. Ditto for the data contained
therein, for further research analysis and application. And ditto also
for the right to "save": Permanent public access to the full-text saved
for one and all on the Web surely trumps saving a local copy (but feel
free to save a local copy too: the disk-police will be looking for pirated
proprietary music and software, not downloads of publicly available

(3) As to author-attribution: I would certainly agree (wouldn't you,
Lizzie?) that the authorship should always be attributed to the true
author. I certainly would not wish to sanction others' passing off my
writing as their own.

(4) As to the right to print-off and distribute multiple hard copies
to others: There is no need for this as long as the others too have
web-access. This seems a reasonable way to protect the publisher from
the logical next-step, which is another publisher's right to print-off
and sell hard copies to others. All of this becomes moot online.

These worries are symptoms of our not yet having quite grasped what open
online access really means. They are residues of papyrocentric categories
and functions that are simply obsolete in the online world.

Stevan Harnad
Received on Mon Mar 03 2003 - 11:47:00 GMT

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