Re: PostGutenberg Copyrights and Wrongs for Give-Away Research

From: Steve Hitchcock <>
Date: Tue, 4 Mar 2003 13:09:01 +0000

I agree with Elizabeth that it is clearly beneficial for authors to retain
copyright, and I'm not sure why we are not actively formulating a strategy
to help and encourage more authors to do this.

Stevan may be right that in many cases for authors to reserve a
self-archiving right, rather than copyright, is sufficient, but not in
every case. One example is where you might want to reuse data in more than
one paper. I'm not suggesting slicing-and-dicing, where essentially the
same paper is regurgitated more than once, which is deprecated but widely
practiced. But there are cases where research results could be usefully be
presented to different audiences, where these audiences are understood and
the work is carefully targetted.

This approach, I think, is more rather than less likely in a digital
environment, as we can see more uses for original data, and to suggest
otherwise is an example of what Stevan calls papyrocentric thinking.

In fact, we have a paper ready for publication that might appeal to more
than one audience. Different co-authors (including Stevan) have different
views on the preferred audience. We have good data which might serve more
than one purpose. For this reason I am loathe to sign away copyright to
first publication. Among the journals we have considered for peer review,
the more prominent demand copyright, with vague or no concessions on
self-archiving rights. We have yet to decide on a suitable course of action.

Perhaps we should not expect the best journals to accept less than full
copyright transfer. I don't agree. Good journals are not good because the
hold exclusive rights, but because they provide the best service for their
authors and readers.


At 11:47 03/03/03 +0000, Stevan Harnad wrote:
>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
>distribute printed copies to others: Simply distribute the URL -- to be
>used 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.)
>(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 Tue Mar 04 2003 - 13:09:01 GMT

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