Letters to the Editor


D-Lib Magazine
March 2006

Volume 12 Number 3

ISSN 1082-9873

To the Editor

The letter below was received in response to the article, Copyright Issues in Open Access Research Journals: The Authors' Perspective, by Esther Hoorn, University of Groningen, Faculty of Law and Maurits van der Graaf, Pleiade Management & Consultancy, in the February 2006 issue of D-Lib Magazine.

Dear Editor:
February 17, 2006
I found it disturbing that authors in Open Access journals imagine they would prefer to retain copyright and manage requests for use on a one off basis rather than determine up front,in a Creative Commons license, the terms under which others may use their work in the future (as reported in "Copyright Issues in Open Access Research Journals: The Authors' Perspective" by Esther Hoorn and Maurits van der Graaf, D-Lib February 2006). I wonder if it is clear to those authors that as a community we will suffer from that decision since it requires all subsequent potential users to try to locate the author or their heirs. This is more difficult than finding the publishers of traditional journals has been and is a tremendous burden for the community to assume simply because the authors find it hard to decide up front how they want their work used. Let us hope that the editors of Open Access journals understand this and urge authors to use the Creative Commons license or equivalents and that attitudes towards retaining copyright shift to make reuse administratively simpler, rather than more difficult than it is now.
David Bearman
President, Archives & Museum Informatics

Below is a response from Esther Hoorn and Maurits van der Graaf to the letter from David Bearman.

We thank Mr. Bearman for his comments on the results of the author survey reported in D-Lib Magazine's February 2006 issue. In fact, we expressed similar reservations in an earlier phase of this study. The most preferred copyright model (Model D in the survey) is indeed a model whereby the author keeps the commercial exploitation rights, but shares the rights for non-commercial purposes. However, if the scholarly publishing system will evolve in such a way that the individual authors keep the commercial exploitation rights, indeed the transactional costs of such a system might become higher than they are in the present system: individual authors may be difficult to locate and may have no experience and/or businesslike approach dealing with permission requests.
Thus, in theory we concur with the reservations of Mr. Bearman. However, at this stage Model D is preferred by most of the respondents to our survey. These respondents appear to be part of the academic establishment, as can be seen from the following facts:
  • Over 75% of the respondents had published more than 10 articles.
  • Most respondents had some role in journal publishing: by being a referee (87%), or by being an editorial board member of a traditional journal (25.5%).
This convinced us that the preference of the respondents to our survey to keep the copyright of their own articles is mainly a sign of deep dissatisfaction among academics about the way copyright issues are handled currently in the traditional publishing system and should not be seen as a well-considered alternative.
Esther Hoorn and Maurits van der Graaf, February 27, 2006

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