Re: Copyright: keep or assign to pblishers

Subject: Re: Copyright: keep or assign to pblishers
From: Michael S. Hart (
Date: to 23 syys   1999 - 19:24:32 EEST

On Thu, 23 Sep 1999, Jeremy Rees wrote:

> Dear Denise
> I was very interested in your list message that Barbara Schleihagen posted
> to the ecup-list.
> I have much sympathy with the points you raise, particularly in the role of
> an author who is not employed by an academic institution but is invited to
> contribute to academic journals. Such writing can take up a
> disproportionate amount of time, especially for refereed articles.
> In response to the inevitable contract form to assign exclusive rights (or,
> at best, joint copyright) to the publisher I reply that I am quite happy to
> assign non-exclusive rights to them but always receive the response that
> they can only operate on the basis of exclusive rights as it would be
> unethical for them to specify a different copyright agreement for one
> author without granting the same to all.

Please note that this is one of the fallacies listed in the "51 Greatest
Fallacies". . .and pretty high on the list. It basically comes up as:

Argumentum Ad Antiquitam = We have always done it this way. Why should
we change. . . ?

Or the Fallacy of the Unique = We don't have to do it for anyone else.
Why should we do it for you?

These two fallacies would prevent nearly all change. . . .
> I personally feel that it would be more equitable for authors to assign
> non-exclusive copyright to academic publishers, on the basis of a six-month
> exclusive right (during which the author can use extracts in other
> contexts, duly credited to the academic journal) and, thereafter they
> should have to seek the author's consent, which should not unreasonably be
> witheld. This then raises the question of payments for subsequent use....
The journals would like to think that you could not possibly exist without
them. . .certainly perish without publication by them. . .I have even heard
of cases of journals basically "charging" you for them to publish you. . . .

Of course, it is the contrary that is true: the journals could not exist
without you to write for them. The same situation became obvious towards
the end of the "Hollywood Studio System". . .when actors began to form in
studios of their own. . . .

> This also raises the spectre of publication delays (sometimes running into
> years) attendant upon much academic journal publishing. This could be
> dealt with by making the exclusive element being limited to six months from
> the delivery of the final corrected manuscript to the publisher or perhaps
> 12 months from the initial commissioning date. Neither is totally
> satisfactory.

Perhaps not totally satisfactory. . .but what is?

[Skating on the edge of another fallacy here. . .it doesn't do EVERYTHING,
so why should we do it at all].

So nice to hear from you!!

Michael S. Hart
Project Gutenberg
Executive Director
Internet User ~#100

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