Re: (Fwd) Publishers Position Paper

Subject: Re: (Fwd) Publishers Position Paper
From: Steve Hitchcock (
Date: ma 17 kesä   1996 - 16:46:35 EEST

It takes time to get around to reading postings this long, but Anne Ramsden
recently forwarded to the lis-elib a copy of the International Publishers
Association's Position Paper on Libraries, Copyright and the Electronic

>For those of you who attended the eLib Publishers Day, you might be
>interested to see
>this timely paper for discussion on the ECUP list.

Interesting, yes, but premature rather than timely is how I would describe
the paper. Surely the questions to be asked are: what is an electronic
product, what is the nature of the electronic content, what is the
publisher's value-added to an electronic product, and what conditions on
access are to be imposed? Only where there are answers to these questions is
it sensible to consider new copyright conditions or whether existing
copyright arrangements need to be extended.

The paper emphasises throughout the differences between print and electronic
products, refers to publishers' innovations and 'value added' but, not
surprisingly, nowhere specifies what these are or gives examples. Only
publishers which can show convincingly that they understand these issues
will be taken seriously in a new dialogue on copyright in the electronic

The paper begins:
> The new electronic environment is coming like a
>speeding train or a tidal wave - inevitable and unstoppable.

Why is it that, when expressed by publishers' representatives, such
mixed-metaphor hyperbole instantly induces that sinking feeling? 'Closing
the stable door...' might have been a more apt way of expressing the
underlying intent of this particular broadside against the embryonic online
publishing enterprise and against electronic libraries, if only I could
remember how this metaphor finishes.

Steve Hitchcock
Open Journal project Tel: +44 (01)703 594479
Department of Electronics and Computer Science Fax: +44 (01)703
University of Southampton SO17 1BJ, UK

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