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RE: Monopolies and copyright (RE: Wellcome Trust report)

OK. You got me there. But I do think that a monopoly in a free market is
somewhat of an oxymoronic notion. If monopolies are inevitable, they only
work if they are well-regulated.

One could indeed argue if copyright does have a place in reporting
research results. In an article I wrote in 1995 I called reporting these
results 'keeping the minutes of science'. They have the kind of quality of
a witness account, an affidavit. Are witness accounts copyrighted? Maybe
they are.

The law gives every author copyright whether they want it or not. So every
author has to decide whether using copyright to limit the distribution of
his or her article is appropriate, or whether using copyright to ensure
maximum distribution and use is the thing to do. The power (and
responsibility) is theirs. Authors may be 'helped' in coming to a decision
by their funders, particularly public funders, whose objectives usually
include adding knowledge, insight and understanding to the world's
knowledge pool, for the benefit of all.

I may be entirely wrong about monopolies and free markets. Perhaps it's a
fair trade: I transfer my copyright to a publisher in order to get my
article published and exploited (and saddle academia with the cost of it
all), and accept sub-optimal dissemination as a price to pay. But another
fair trade, fairer, might be: I transfer some money (from my research
budget) to the publisher in order to get my article published and made
available to the whole world for free.

It's up to authors and funders.

Jan Velterop

-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Anderson
To: liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu
Sent: 6/8/04 12:09 AM
Subject: Monopolies and copyright (RE: Wellcome Trust report)

> The issue is not that commercial publishing has no place in science; 
> the issue is that monopoly has no place in science (or in a true free 
> market, for that matter). 

Whoa there, Jan.  Copyright is, by definition, a monopoly right.  Are you
intentionally saying that copyright has no place in science (or in a free

Rick Anderson