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Re: Contracts and Practical Realities?

Many of these questions have been addressed by arXiv. They provide a 24 hr
period for corrections and replacements after the item is posted. After
that it stays. Corrections and so forth are new versions. All versions
remain permanently--if there is a preprint and a postprint, both are
there. I think that's the way it should be. Storage is cheaper and getting

There are limitations on the files that can be posted. I believe they
exclude incorporated spreadsheets. The way of handling such materials is
links, not incorporation. This takes care of 1/ 2/ and 3/

As for 4/ if the author makes such a mistake he's stuck with it. If he had
sent the file out on a mailing list such as this, and didn't realize till
after it was posted, he'd be stuck too. (Since it's a moderated list,
there's a period when the moderator can prevent the posting--I am not
ashamed to admit I have asked her to do so once or twice, and that she has
asked me to let something I sent not be posted once or twice. But once
it's up, it's up.)

5/ A violation of copyright is so serious that it is reasonable to expect
authors to take good care they do not do so, and most certainly to expect
editors and publishers to take good care their authors do not do so.
Personally, I would prefer a situation where no court could order the
material removed, but monetary damages would be paid instead. The only
reason I make an exception for court orders is because there is no way of
preventing them.

Remember, we are talking about the publication of edited material, not
material that an individual may with evil intent choose to post, like on
the unregulated web.

I would be very glad to hear of improved language that achieves the same
effects; I set no great store on the precision or conciseness of my own. A
better way of accomplishing the same result would be very good; my example
is meant primarily to illustrate the principle.

David Goodman
Research Librarian and Biological Sciences Bibliographer
Princeton University Library
dgoodman@princeton.edu            609-258-7785


> >Electronic journals will in my eyes be unreliable until the same right
> >exists. After we succeed in getting the version below adopted, I would
> >propose "The publisher warrants that it will not remove material from the
> >site except if legally required by the final judgment of a court of
> >competent jurisdiction; the publisher further warrants that it will use
> >every feasible legal effort to prevent the removal."
> It strikes me that as we try to put more and more clauses into these
> agreements, there are going to be unintended side effects.  I can think of
> several cases where the clause above could cause serious problems:
> 1) where the content is intentionally versioned and older versions
> removed;  e.g., first posting a preprint and then replacing it with the
> edited, typeset, and proofed final version.  Is this sort of product
> prohibited by this language?
> 2) where a figure or other piece of electronic content is has a QC problem
> of some sort that was not caught and is later taken down and replaced with
> a better rendition of the same intellectual content.  Is this "removal" .
> .  . even for a few seconds?
> 3) where an author insists on including as an attachment to his or her
> article a binary file (e.g. a spreadsheet) that is later discovered to
> have a dangerous virus and has to be taken down and cannot be repaired
> adequately
> All of these are real problems.  How many pages of legal language would it
> take to make sure that none of these constitute removing material?
> Less easy to solve but also real world examples:
> 4) when an author doesn't realize that an article is going to be rapid
> released and the article is posted before the big press conference; the
> author demands that the article be taken down for a few days.  Similar
> situation with patent deadlines.
> 5) an article makes it into print/online and it is discovered to have been
> previously published in another journal and thus a copyright violation.
> Would you need a court order to force you to do the right thing?
> I'm not saying that there are easy answers to any of these problems, but
> it is worth stopping to consider the practical realities of journal
> publication and balancing those against the desired social good.  Setting
> everything in the concrete of contracts may not necessarily be the best
> solution . . . it certainly won't be the cheapest solution.
> Evan Owens
> eowens@press.uchicago.edu