Re: Evolving Publisher Copyright Policies On Self-Archiving

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Tue, 9 Nov 2004 13:14:30 +0000

Pertinent Prior Topic Thread:
    "Re: Chron. High. Ed. 18 September on Cal Tech & Copyright"

> On Mon, 8 Nov 2004, Barry Mahon wrote:
> In the article cited in the original entry on this subject Paul David says:-
> > None of the foregoing proposals directly address the troubling possibility
> > that one day soon either the U.S., or the E.U., or both jurisdictions may
> > have statutes providing for both legal protection of database rights --
> > such as now exist under the EU Directive, and criminal law sanctions
> > reinforcing IP owners -- reliance upon technological "self-help"
> > -- such as now exist under the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright
> > Act. Non-copyrightable and out-of-copyright material then could be
> > locked up indefinitely in encrypted databases. What to do about the
> > jeopardy into which that seemingly incremental, evolutionary step would
> > place the future of the entire regime of limited legal protections for
> > intellectual property, is a problem that lies beyond the scope of this
> > paper. Conceivably, a concerted campaign to mitigate the already existing
> > threats to "open science" could contribute to public awareness of those
> > dangers, and so contribute to forestalling their materialization.
> Is he right?? Is there not a risk that archives of papers will be 'locked'
> under such legislation??
> Is Paul's call for an information campaign not a good idea??

It all depends on whether you trust universities. (I do.) Because what we are
talking about here with OA to journal articles is that their authors
self-archive them in their own university's OA archive. Why? So that all their
would-be users can access them (irrespective of whether their own universities
can afford to subscribe to the journal they were published in), thereby
maxisimising their usage and impact. The reason research impact (e.g.,
citations) is of interest to both the author and his university, is that
impact brings visibility, prestige, funding, and other rewards to both
of them (not to mention that it also increases knowledge).

Now the OA archives belong to the university, even after the authors retire
or die. In most cases, most of their potential impact occurs before the
author retires or dies, but some of it may well be posthumous.
(Universities too may die, but let us not now fuss over that too!)

If the university shares a stake in making its research output OA while
its author is alive, in order to co-benefit from its impact, why on earth
would this change when the author dies? Is the university to be imagined
to go into the journal-partial-contents sales business for some reason
at that point? Hardly even that, because those self-archived versions
were merely supplements, and the one who owns the proprietary original,
if anyone, is the copyright-holding publisher.

But by the time the author is retired or dead, those articles (which
never had much of a market at the best of times, and even that market
fell off steeply from 6 months after publication in most cases) have
even less of a market. At best, their value to the university continues
to be what it always was, namely, a way to enhance its research impact,
which continues to be best-served by keeping it OA.

In other words, the likelihood that universities will lock their own
research output and become database providers (renouncing impact revenues
for royalty revenues) is about as great as that they will pack up their
libraries' books and journals and become second-hand book vendors.

So, no, the database-provider analogy and legislation are not pertinent
to the self-archiving of OA versions by their authors in their university

Stevan Harnad
Received on Tue Nov 09 2004 - 13:14:30 GMT

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Fri Dec 10 2010 - 19:47:40 GMT