Re: Copyright FAQ for refereed journal authors

From: Stevan Harnad (
Date: Wed Oct 13 1999 - 15:37:53 BST

> As you know, I beieve that who owns copyright really matters! In
> libraries we are frequently asked to copy articles for classes, for
> readers in other libraries, or to digitize works. All this would be much
> easier if the author owned his/her work and put a rider on it saying that
> all educational & research copying was permitted without asking publisher
> permission, without fee, without restriction. When authors keep rights
> only to self-archive, that doesn't begin to accomplish what universities
> and research institutions need to serve their communities.

Ah Ann, it keeps fading into and out of focus: If my paper is on the
Web, you don't need to xerox anything for anybody!

> You and I have a difference that's largely defintional: you would argue
> that "self-archive" means the author archives anywhere he or she chooses,
> anytime. Most publishers (perhaps APS excluded) believe that to mean
> archiving on your own personal web site. It's not what you're after, is
> it? Think about adjusting the terminology?

As you will see, this has been discussed already in September-Forum, and
you, of all people, should be au courant in this (rather than accepting
the past-speak and past-think to which publishers cling so fervently).

In brief, the distinction of which you speak is complete and utter
nonsense (not your nonsense, THEIR idea that there is any coherent
distinction whatsoever to be made there: you are simply buying into this

There is no such thing as a "personal web site" (except perhaps a
password-protected one)!! All (non-firewalled) websites are completely
public, international and net-wide! (If it it ever went to court, not
even the PREMISE of a "personal website" could be formulated in
non-self-contradictory language!

You'll read all the details when you prepare the new Subversive II book
(unless these new duties prevent or delay that: in which case please
let me know, as I really thing it's important to get this out fast;
this is simply an instance in point).

These publishers' would-be distinction is based on an absurd (and
self-serving) analogy between "personal websites" and "personal
distribution copies" (never a problem in the past, because one author's
personal doings count for so little in the paper medium). And an
equally absurd analogy between "public websites" and rival (for-fee)
re-publication (which is what APA was trying to invoke against me!).

NONE of this is coherently applicable to the PostGutenberg Galaxy (for
the Give-Away literature), and it will help us fight the good fight,
and win, sooner, if our comrades-at-arms' (viz. A.S.O.) eyes are
completely open on this, rather than lulled into half-closing again by
utterly absurd and obsolete nonsense like what I have been reading in
some publishers' "new" copyright wordings to deal with the Web!

Chrs, S

PS You were write to wean me of the "esoteric/exoteric" distinction --
it was too esoteric anyway. But "online public SELF-archiving by
authors of the give-away (e.g. refereed) literature" is PRECISELY
the right, transparent. self-explanatory descriptor!

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Tue Feb 13 2001 - 16:23:05 GMT