Re: Blackwell Publishing & Online Open

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Mon, 7 Mar 2005 23:38:14 +0000

This continues to be much ado about nothing: Fussing over "rights"
when no real functionality at all is at stake in the online era! S.H.

On Mon, 7 Mar 2005, Matthew Cockerill wrote:

> "It seems to me that if what we want to do is make content available to
> everyone, there's really no need to take away the author's traditional
> rights under copyright law. "
> But Blackwell's/Springer are not the authors (nor the funders) of the
> research, and yet they ending up with the exclusive rights to the final
> version of the research. It's no surprise that the funders who actually
> paid for the research (e.g. Wellcome) aren't happy.
> If you compare Springer and Blackwell on the one hand, to BioMed
> Central and PLoS on the other hand, it seems clear that authors retain
> more of their rights with the PLoS/BioMed Central model, no?
> Under the Springer model (and I believe for Blackwell too), the author
> is required to transfer their copyright to the publisher, and the
> *publisher* as a result has exclusive rights over the article, and
> controls what the author of the article can and cannot do with the
> final version of that article.
> Under the PLoS/BioMed Central model, authors retain copyright, but sign
> a non-exclusive open access licensing agreement to the publisher (which
> allows the publisher to redistribute the article under open access
> model).
> Under the Springer/Blackwell model, the author has no special rights -
> like everyone else, they can download his own personal copy of the
> final version of the article from the publishers website (as long as
> they agree not to distribute it to anyone).
> Under the PLoS/BioMed Central model, the author is free under the terms
> of the open access license agreement to redistribute and reuse the
> final version of the article to their heart's content, as is the rest
> of the scientific community.
> As I say, it is difficult to see what additional rights the author is
> retaining in the former case. The exclusive rights are being held onto
> by the publisher, not the author.
> Matt
> On 7 Mar 2005, at 21:21, Rick Anderson wrote:
> >> If publishers claim to offer 'Open Access', and are charging
> >> authors for the
> >> privilege, it really does not make sense for them to be reserving for
> >> themselves these exclusive rights.
> >
> > This is where we get into the question of what "open access" means.
> > If it means that the general public has a free and unrestricted right
> > to access an article and use it within the bounds of fair use/fair
> > dealing, then in fact Blackwell's policy is perfectly consonant with
> > open access.
> >
> > If, on the other hand, you agree with the Barcelona, Bethesda and
> > Berlin statements that access is only "open" when the copyright holder
> > assigns what would normally be her exclusive rights (redistribution,
> > reproduction, derivative works, etc.) to the general public, then no,
> > what Blackwell is offering isn't "open access." But I think that
> > definition is unnecessarily restrictive. It seems to me that if what
> > we want to do is make content available to everyone, there's really no
> > need to take away the author's traditional rights under copyright law.
> > The latter stance seems to me almost like a conflation of "open
> > access" with "open source."
> >
> > ----
> > Rick Anderson
> > Dir. of Resource Acquisition
> > University of Nevada, Reno Libraries
> > (775) 784-6500 x273
> >
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Received on Mon Mar 07 2005 - 23:38:14 GMT

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