Proposed change in copyright transfer practice (> 250 lines)

Ross Whetten rosswhet at
Mon Sep 21 16:17:23 EST 1992

Hello networld!
The accompanying material was produced by a group whose objective is to evaluate alternatives to the
current practice of unquestioned transfer of copyright from the author(s) of scientific papers to the 
publishers of the journals to which those papers are submitted for publication. It is (I think) largely
self-explanatory, and intended to serve only as a stimulus for debate and discussion. Thoughtful comments
and criticisms are welcome and will be considered in the formulation of future versions of the material.

------------------------------beginning of included text------------------------------

August 31, 1992

Dear Colleagues:

     The attached model "University Policy Regarding Faculty Publication in
Scholarly Journals" was drafted by a joint committee of faculty, librarians
and university press editors from Duke University, North Carolina State
University, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (collectively
known as the Research Triangle Universities in the vernacular).  Although the
document incorporates many suggestions and corrections received from faculty,
librarians, and administrators on our three campuses, it is still only a working
draft and we invite feedback.  The vast majority of the responses from the
distribution of the first draft have been positive and strongly supportive of
the policy.  

     This effort is part of a two-year project of the Triangle Research
Libraries Network to develop strategies and plans for cooperative information
resources development in the sciences and engineering.  Grant support for the
project has been provided by the Council on Library Resources in Washington,

     The distribution of this draft policy document is intended to stimulate
a process of debate and consensus building among faculty, librarians,
university administrators, and scholarly publishers throughout the United
States and abroad.  It is not our intention that such a policy be adopted
unilaterally by any one institution.  Rather we believe that the eventual
widespread adoption of such a policy would help to reduce or eliminate the
current barriers to the effective dissemination of new research, especially in
science and engineering scholarly journals.  

     University research library collections have traditionally served as the
primary mechanism for the dissemination of new research results to faculty and
graduate students.  However, the cost and number of scholarly journals
continue to increase at astonishing rates, far outstripping the ability of
academic budgets to keep pace.  A growing percentage of these journals are
published by private (often international) corporations earning substantial
profits from the subscriptions purchased mostly by research libraries. 
University libraries have been forced to cancel subscriptions by the
thousands, and no relief to this trend is in sight.  

     The policy proposed here suggests a fairly fundamental change in the
current practice whereby faculty freely transfer the copyrights on their
articles to journal publishers.  As pointed out in a recent discussion of
scholarly publishing in The Chronicle of Higher Education, (Bennett and
Matheson: "Scholarly articles--valuable commodities for universities" May 27,
1992, pp. B1-B3) only the copyright owner can decide whether scholarly
publications are treated primarily as knowledge to be shared or as a commodity
to be sold for a profit.  In trade and mass market publishing, authors
(recognizing the economic value of their intellectual property) transfer
limited rights to publishers and earn royalties.  In scholarly journal
publishing, by contrast, authors "make a contribution" to scholarship by
freely assigning their ownership rights to publishers.  The irony here is that
university libraries are forced to pay spiraling subscription costs for
information created and given away by university faculty whose research was
supported largely by grants of public funds.

     We encourage you to study this draft policy carefully and to share and
discuss it with colleagues at other institutions. We ask only that you give credit 
to TRLN when and if you distribute this draft.  We look forward to hearing
your reactions to the document, whether they be supportive or critical. 

     Thank you in advance for your interest and support.


Gary Byrd, Health Sciences Library, UNC-CH (byrdmed at
Jerry Campbell, Perkins Library, Duke
Jerry Davis, Marine Earth & Atmospheric Sciences, NCSU
Lolly Gasaway, Law Library, UNC-CH
Joe Hewitt, Davis Library, UNC-CH
Connie McCarthy, Perkins Library, Duke
David Perry, UNC Press
Ross Whetten, Forestry, NCSU (rosswhet at

------------beginning of draft policy document-----------------------------
        University Policy regarding Faculty Publication 
                      in Scholarly Journals


     The purpose of copyright in U.S. law is "to promote the progress of
science and the useful arts."  By granting "for limited times to authors and
inventors the rights to their respective writings and discoveries," U.S.
copyright legislation has had the complementary purposes of protecting the
intellectual property of authors and promoting widespread access to useful
information.  The following policy addresses the need to maintain a balance
between scholars' rights as authors and the fundamental mission of the
university to promote the free exchange of ideas and research results.

The Policy

     Faculty employees of this university should retain copyright in the
results of their university research and other scholarly activities when these
are published in scholarly journals.  As a non-profit institution dependent
largely on government and foundation grants to support its research
activities, this university encourages faculty to use publication channels
that provide access to scholarly information at the lowest cost for the
benefit of the largest number of other researchers, students, and interested
citizens.  This policy is limited to the publication of articles reporting new
research in scholarly journals rather than reviews of the literature,
monographs, and textbooks.  Faculty retention of copyright to their journal
articles will help to insure that research scholars and their universities
maintain the right to share this information, as appropriate, with colleagues,
students and the public at large using existing and emerging print and
electronic technologies.  Current copyright law specifically gives the owner
the right to reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative versions, and to
perform or display articles or other works.

       As a alternative to signing journal publishers' copyright transfer
agreements that require complete transfer of rights, faculty of this
university should exercise one of the following options: 1) return the
publisher's form unsigned with a copy of this university policy statement; 2)
make modifications to the publisher's copyright transfer agreement form in
line with the model "Authorization to Publish" form below; or 3) substitute
the model "Authorization to Publish" form along with a copy of this university
policy statement.  Faculty should carefully study any agreement form provided
to them by journal publishers to insure the form does not require the author
to assign copyright to the publisher, and to determine which of the options
above will best protect their rights.

----------------Model "Authorization to Publish" Form-------------------------

     A major mission of _________________________________ (name of the
university) is to provide for the creation and dissemination of new knowledge. 
To promote the widest possible dissemination of research results, the faculty
employees of this University retain copyright in scholarly journal articles
produced in the exercise of their official duties.

[hereinafter called the Author(s)] grants to
[hereinafter called the Publisher] the right to publish the article
provisionally entitled __________________________________________
[hereinafter called the Article] in the following print/electronic journal:

This authorization does not transfer to the Publisher copyright in the
Article, nor the right to grant or deny permission for the reproduction of the
Article in other forms, with the exception of limited reproduction by indexing
and abstracting services.  This Authorization takes effect only upon the
acceptance by the Publisher of the Article for publication in the journal
indicated above.  If the Article is not accepted for publication, no
authorization of the Publisher shall have been made.

     The Author(s) retain(s) all title, interest, and rights in the Article,
including but not limited to the right to grant or deny permission for further
reproduction of the published Article, the right to use material from the
Article in subsequent works, the right to redistribute the Article by
electronic means, the right to display the work publicly, the right to procure
registration of copyright, and the right to secure copyright in any other


     The Author(s) warrant(s) that he/she/they is/are the sole author(s) and
proprietor(s) of the Article, that the Article does not contain any libelous
or unlawful material, that it does not infringe upon the rights of others, and
that its contents are original to the Author(s) and have not been submitted
for publication in another journal.  If the Article contains significant
excerpts from other copyrighted materials, the Author(s) warrant(s) that
written permission from the copyright holder has been obtained and proper
credit has been given in the Article.

     The following notice shall appear, as a condition of publication of the
Article, as a footnote on the first page of the Article as distributed by the

     "Copyright to this work is retained by the author(s).  Permission is
     granted for the noncommercial reproduction of the complete work for
     educational and research purposes, and for the use of figures, tables
     and short quotes from this work in other books or journals, provided the
     full bibliographic citation is given to the original source of the
     material.  Reproduction of the work for resale requires the permission
     of the copyright holder."

Date: ________________________

Signature(s) of Author(s): _____________________________________

Name(s) of Author(s): __________________________________________


Advice to Authors:  The following guidelines are intended to aid faculty in
choosing the most appropriate scholarly journal publisher and in negotiating
licensing agreements with publishers which insure the widest possible
dissemination of their scholarship and research results.  

     1) Choosing a scholarly journal publisher and submitting an article for

          -- In evaluating any potential journal for the publication of an
original article, faculty should consider the publisher's policy regarding the
reproduction of articles for education or scholarly purposes by students,
faculty, and libraries.

          -- Publication via a public online computer network is encouraged
when this alternative is available.

          -- Although not required to protect copyright, faculty should
never submit an article for publication to a scholarly journal without
including a "notice of copyright" statement on the title page (e.g.: (c) John
Q. Faculty 1992).

     2) The rights that authors retain by not transferring copyright to their
scholarly journal articles include:

          -- The right to reproduce the work or to exclude others from
reproducing the work.

          -- The right to distribute the work by sale, rental, lease, or

          -- The right to prepare derivative works (such as translations,
new editions, abridgements, etc.) of the work.

          -- The right to "perform" the work publicly in person or through
the mass media.

          -- The right to display the work publicly through new
technological methods that do not amount to a performance or actual

     3) The responsibilities authors assume by not transferring copyright to
their scholarly journal articles include:

          -- The responsibility to seek not only the most prestigious
journals for publication of articles, but also those which will assure their
widespread availability to other scholars and students at a reasonable cost.

          -- The responsibility to learn more about our current system of
scholarly communication through journals and the role copyright plays in this

          -- The responsibility to participate actively in campus, national,
and international committees, discussion groups, and forums where changes in
our current system of scholarly communication are being debated.

          -- The responsibility to respond promptly to requests to reproduce
and resell the article for educational purposes (noncommercial reproduction
would be automatically permitted by the notice printed or electronically
displayed on the first page of the article).

-----------------------------end of included text------------------------------

Questions to consider:
1) Does the copyright transfer policy as it now exists serve to impede the broad dissemination
   of knowledge, by interfering with the ability of faculty to use articles from the literature
   in their teaching and research efforts?

2) Do scientific publishers add sufficient value to articles to justify the subscription rates they
   charge to libraries?

3) Would the money now spent on subscriptions to paper journals be better spent on building the   
   infrastructure necessary for electronic publishing of scientific papers?

4) How can the archival role of the library be fulfilled in the electronic arena?

I look forward to comments and discussion.

Ross Whetten
Department of Forestry
North Carolina State University
Raleigh, North Carolina 27695-8008  USA

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