[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: BioMed Central Authors to retain copyright

(Sorry for the delay in follow-up -- I was on vacation all last week. But
I think Trisha poses an important question here and no one else seems to
have picked it up, so...)

> Why don't folks understand the basics of
> copyright law?  Would they want their research free to all without
> barriers?

I've asked myself this many times when reading the comments of librarians
and others on copyright topics.  I think part of the problem is that the
answer is "yes" -- many librarians and academics would be happy to have
their research available to all without barriers, because there's no
economic downside to it for them.  As a professional, tenure-seeking
librarian, I get paid to write stuff on the job, so my copyright isn't
worth that much to me; in fact, I benefit professionally if my writing is
widely distributed and read.  And because the wide dissemination of
information is essential to participative democracy, we all tend to get
irritated by arguments in favor of information "ownership." The problem is
that lots of people actually rely on copyright protection in order to make
a living, and those people (rather than librarians and academics) tend to
be the ones who write the stuff that library patrons really need.  I worry
when I hear librarians talking about how information ought to be "free."  
It's not free.  It's expensive to create and expensive to publish, and
we're dumb to pretend otherwise.  If we work to undermine the strength of
copyright protection, we're undermining the ability of people to make a
living creating and publishing information.

This all strikes me (and probably most people reading this message) as
incredibly obvious.  And yet so much of the commentary from our colleagues
seems to be written as if it weren't.

Rick Anderson
Head Acquisitions Librarian
Jackson Library
UNC Greensboro
(336) 334-5281

"Which is the greater
miracle: to cause a stone
to speak, or a philosopher
to stop speaking?"
  -- Overheard at the
     Council of Nicaea