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Re: Online and Out of Print

This is a most interesting angle to the e-pub issue, but I think the
discussion can be helped by NOT applying the term "out-of-print" to
electronic publishing.  There is already a well understood term that will
describe an e-pub no longer available... it is "offline".  (I would
exclude CD-ROMs from the "offline" definition, as CD-ROMs require a press
run, warehousing and fullfilment just as print titles do... therefore
CD-ROMs can go "out-of-print"). 

The cost of maintaining everything online is a significant expense for a
publisher, despite some assumptions made by list participants.  If a title
remains online, rights should not revert after a relatively brief period. 
Copyright protection for online titles will naturally expire over longer
periods, as defined by law. 

If a title is taken offline, the rights should revert after some defined
time.  We must define what constitues being "online", to prevent
publishers from briefly remounting titles just before the rights revert. 
We should also define "online" in relation to the network accessiblilty. 
A local area network mount (i.e. the IDEAL library by AP) does not offer
the same accessiblity as an Internet mount. 

This discussion can lead to a much better long-term view of electronic
publishing, and the responsibility of a publisher if the publisher wishes
to retain maximum control of his properties.  We all know how easily
e-pubs can be copied, but the clear threat of aggressive copyright
enforcement prevents pirates from mounting their copies of e-pubs.  If
offline rights quickly revert to the author (or public), the properties
would be free for remounting by anyone... a significant loss for the
publisher and a recipe for chaos for the reader trying to find the
re-mounted sources. 


>Forwarded message:
>Date: Tue, 25 Feb 1997 16:04:27 GMT
> From: (Chris Zielinski)
>Many thanks to the respondents to my original query about how things
>become "out of print" when they are online. To pursue this question a
>little further: most respondents have suggested putting clarifications
>into publishing contracts. Does anyone have an explicit suggestion for a
>clause in a contract that would serve to define an acceptable period for a
>work to be in print electronically before it beomes legally out of print? 
>To start the ball rolling, for an electronic journal, I would imagine this
>could be something like, "The article is deemed to be in print during the
>issue life of this issue of the journal, and out of print as soon as the
>next issue comes out, or in three months whichever is the shorter
>For a journal article or book that has been printed in paper format, a
>two-stage clause might be attempted: 1) a clause that relates the
>electronic version to the print version in cases when both are issued at
>the same time ("this electronic version of the work becomes out-of- print
>when the print version goes out of print"), and 2) a clause that relates
>the electronic version to the print version in cases when they are issued
>at different times ("this [electonic][print] version of the work is
>considered to be in print until [date], after which it will be considered
>out of print, with all rights save any typographical right reverting to
>the author"). 
>In the latter case, how long do people think it is fair for an electronic
>publisher to retain the rights to something he/she has placed on the
>Internet on behalf of the author. Just because something can be kept
>online and inexhaustibly accessible for ever (unlike the physical stock
>depletion or unmarketable stock burden that renders paper works
>out-of-print), there should surely be some consensus as to a fair term.
>Anybody care to venture a limit? Six months? Six years?  Sixty years? My
>preference would be 6 months. 
>CHRIS ZIELINSKI Secretary General, ALCS 74 New Oxford Street, London WC1A
>1EF, United Kingdom Tel: (0044)-(0)171 255 2034 - Fax: (0044)-(0)171 323
>0486 <>

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