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Re: Internet vs. publishing, was, Re: BioMed Central Authors to retain copyright

I think that I and Shirley do not disagree very much. For articles in STM
journals, it is "vital to protect the expression of the authors
research"--not just from others who would reprint it under their own
names, because dishonesty in the academic world usually takes subtler
forms than that, but from forces that hinder its dissemination. Many have
suggested on this list and elsewhere that the best way of doing this is
for authors to retain the copyright, giving journal publishers a license
to publish the article in their journal.

There are, by the way, absolutely no STM publishers I know of that pay
royalties on journal articles. I am glad to hear there are exceptions,
even rare exceptions, in other fields.

David Goodman
Biology Librarian, and
Co-Chair, Electronic Journals Task Force
Princeton University Library
dgoodman@princeton.edu         http://www.princeton.edu/~biolib/
phone: 609-258-3235            fax: 609-258-2627


shirley_lambert@nbnbooks.com wrote:
> I must disagree that copyright plays no part in academic publishing of
> monographs and journals. It is vital to protect the expression of an
> author's ideas or research, because unfortunately, dishonesty exists in
> the academic realms just as in the trade. The copyright law is very
> specific in its intent, which is to protect the expression of a creator's
> work for a limited period of time (which Congress has just extended) so
> that the author may enjoy some income or other benefit from his or her
> labor. Originally the period of time was to be one generation; a renewal
> extended the time for two generations (28 plus 28 years). The 1976 law
> extended that to life plus 50--presumably because we all live longer. It
> is now life plus 70, in my opinion an absurd state of affairs.
> The creator of a work is protected in the expression only; all the ideas
> and research are open to others to discuss, to use in further research, to
> build on and extend so that "Knowledge and the Useful Arts" continue to
> grow. All of this is healthy.
> The issue of the publisher making huge amounts of money through charging
> huge amounts for the information is a different matter. Where we have gone
> wrong, I think, is in blindly trusting that a free market for information
> exists. Wherever you have one or a few (oligopolistic) firms that control
> a market segment, prices will reflect what the market will bear rather
> than a fair price and a fair return. Authors go unrewarded; buyers who
> must have the information pay a huge price; and the ruling firms enjoy
> unprecedented prosperity and growth.
> Traditionally, publishers take exclusive rights from the author and create
> a product that sells at a fair market price and reward the author from
> their revenues. It is true that this occurs in the trade markets because
> there is intense competition for authors' works that bring large sales
> (Clancy, Grisham, as well as others whose work sells more modestly,
> including popularized versions of academic monographs). And academic
> publishers DO exist who publish monographs that sell only a few hundred
> copies, and who pay royalties once a breakeven point has been reached.
> There are still others who believe in paying royalties on everything they
> publish. There are also journal publishers whose outside editors are
> remunerated and whose article authors are paid a (small) fee. These
> publishers are neither large nor well-known, because their profits do not
> make them the lions of industry that monopolistic publishers have become.
> In a market where one publisher has established a near monopoly on the
> expression of critical information, competition scarcely exists. This
> allows that publisher to charge enormous prices for its material, keep the
> copyright tied up for the duration, and not remunerate authors in the
> slightest. Granted, costs are incurred in the refereeing process, the
> editing process, and the production process. But in a market with limited
> competition, a "fair" market value for the information can't exist. Just
> because this situation exists in a few segments of academic publishing,
> there is no reason to condemn all publishers, because many of us do indeed
> add value through judicious outside review and editing--and bring works to
> market that are needed, that are priced fairly, that add to our knowledge
> and further academic discourse, and we even pay our authors.
> Shirley Lambert
> Associate Publisher and Editorial Director
> Scarecrow Press
> 4720 Boston Way
> Lanham, MD  20706
> Direct line: 301-731-9514
> slambert@scarecrowpress.com
> url: http:www//scarecrowpress.com