Re: Publication, Access Provision, and Fair Use

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Thu, 7 Jun 2007 00:18:39 +0100

On Wed, 6 Jun 2007, Sandy Thatcher, President, Association of American
of University Presses (AAUP), wrote:

> Publishers will of course differ about what they consider
> "reasonable." At Penn State we do allow posting of peer-reviewed (but
> pre-copy-edited) articles as a "reasonable" accommodation of author
> and publisher needs. I think that makes us Green OA compliant in your
> terminology.

Yes, that's Green, highly commendable, and the right, responsible
publisher policy!

But if all journal publishers were Green, there would not need to be a
Fair Use Button, and we would not be having this discussion!

The Fair Use Button is for articles published in the (c. 38%) of
"unreasonable" journals. It is a reasonable interim solution -- not yet
OA, but, once used, in ID/OA mandates, to mandate deposit universally,
it will soon lead to 100% OA.

> When I sign a contract with the University of Toronto Press for an
> article in the Journal of Scholarly Publishing, I give UTP "exclusive
> world rights"... I do not assume that I have the right, say, to
> share my article with the AAUP general listserv... But these surely
> are professional colleagues just as your fellow researchers are your
> colleagues, Stevan. Do you feel it's ok to post your postprint article
> to such a listserv, as opposed to complying with occasional individual
> requests (which is what I presume your "fair use button" is used for)?

(Sandy, You are conflating what I said about the Closed-Access, Fair-Use
Button with what I said about Green Open-Access Self-Archiving!)

No, posting the full-text to a list does not sound like what most people
call "Fair Use" (any more than depositing it on the Web does).

But posting one's *metadata* to the list does -- including a link to the
deposited full-text in one's own Institutional Repository, which, because
of the UTP embargo, some might elect to deposit as Closed Access. Then,
once they reach the Closed Access dead-end, individual users can request
a single copy form the author for personal research purposes by using
the Fair Use Button...

(Is the procedure clearer now?)

> Where do you draw the line in what you consider to be your
> privilege in sharing your research with other colleagues?

Since the late 1980's I have been personally depositing all my refereed
final drafts (postprints) and usually my preprints too. That's what I
recommend all authors to do, and that's what I recommend all institutions
and funders to mandate that they do:

But for those who would like to draw the line a little short of that, I
recommend the Immediate-Deposit/Optional-Access (ID/OA) mandate, plus
the Fair Use Button for the Closed Access Deposits during their embargo

> Or do you just share the preprint in an unlimited way and refer
> requests for the postprint (in any more than an isolated, occasional
> way) to your publisher?

See above: I deposit all postprints, and most preprints. For those who
want to observe publisher embargoes, I recommend ID/OA plus the Fair Use

> If you feel that it's ok for authors of journal articles to
> distribute their articles, in preprint or postprint form, to any
> number of colleagues in any manner they wish, why shouldn't this same
> logic of "sharing research with colleagues" apply to authors of
> books?

First, once again, let us de-conflate (1) Open Access deposits from
(2) Closed Access deposits plus the Fair Use Button. I assume you are
asking whether the Button is ok for books too. The answer is: yes, of
course it is, but most book authors are not interested in giving away
more than a few promotional copies of their book online.

As I said earlier, the answer is different for articles and books,
because articles are written only for impact whereas books are mostly
written in some hope of income (though this may change).

In short, the difference between articles and books -- insofar as online
Fair Use give-aways is concerned -- is that most book authors are not
interested in giving them away to all would-be users who cannot or will
not pay for access, whereas *all* article authors are (interested, that
is: it takes a mandate to get all article-authors to actually *do* it!)

(Again, please distinguish what I personally do and recommend, from what
I recommend for those who wish to observe publisher embargoes.)

> Do you feel it's ok for authors to send a copy of their books,
> in preprint or postprint form, to any colleagues they wish either
> upon request or just because they'd like them to know about it? If
> not, on what principled grounds would you distinguish the application
> of a "fair use" privilege to these two cases?

Yes, it's ok, but most book authors have no more desire to do so than
their publishers do, and for much the same reason. *And that's the
point!* There is no conflict of interest between trade book publishers
and trade book authors. They both want to sell their joint product for
sales royalties.

In contrast, there is a *profound* conflict of interest between
research journal articles authors and their publishers -- *if* the
publishers are not Green on self-archiving (as Penn State Press is).

> As a publisher, I would worry a great deal about an author sending
> his book to any or all of his colleagues, or posting it on his own
> web site or in his university's institutional repository.

Don't worry, because most authors have no motivation to do that. (But
don't get too complacent, because esoteric monograph authors may
eventually come to the same way of thinking as refereed journal article

> You might reply that some authors have found that doing so increases
> the print sales of their books. Yes, a few authors, like Larry Lessig and
> Yochi Benkler, seem to have had this experience. (I say "seem" because
> one has no way of proving that the book would not have sold even better
> in print without the online availability of the book.)

Actually, I would not reply that way as I have my doubts that those
effects will scale and be sustainable: I think the market for the print
edition of books is going to shrink greatly, and at some point print
costs will no longer be recoverable out of sales revenues, at which
point the print-runs will vanish, apart from some special prestige
hard copies.

If there is still money to be made from online-edition sales, I am sure
trade authors and publishers will still want to make it. For those that
cannot cover costs and make a profit from online sales, there is again
the option of Gold OA Publishing (paid for by the author's funder and/or

> But the circumstances of a few special authors like these can hardly be
> extrapolated into a generalization for all books.

I agree, for books.

> My worry stems from the fact that many academic libraries do not
> now buy revised dissertations because they have access to the
> unrevised versions through the ProQuest database or the Networked
> Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations. So if even preprint
> versions of monographs were to be placed online, there is good
> reason to believe that library sales of such books would dry up.

Yes indeed. So it will again be the impact/income motivational split
that will decide which way which books will go.

> I don't see how you can argue, from the point of view of its benefit
> to research, though, why there should be any principled difference
> between authors of journal articles and authors of books acting
> differently. In humanities, at least, books are at least as important
> as articles in advancing scholarship in most fields.

The difference is not legal, it is practical, motivational. At the
present time, most book authors are not motivated only or mostly by the
desire to maximise impact, and hence they are not giveaway authors,
whereas all journal article authors are.

    Harnad, Stevan (2001/2003) For Whom the Gate Tolls?

Stevan Harnad

PS. Sandy, it has been evident from the outset that your main interest is
in books, not journal articles. Since book authors and publishers have
mostly congruent motivations, you do not face the prospect of Green OA
self-archiving of books (let alone Green Book self-archiving mandates).
But please don't conflate the mostly congruent case of books with the
universally conflictual case of articles.
Received on Thu Jun 07 2007 - 02:36:45 BST

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