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Archive for June, 2019

Author power

Chris JHolland21 June 2019

An interesting  blog post by Shaun Khoo on the Scholarly Kitchen website takes a sceptical look at whether academic authors are likely to gain more leverage in an open access publishing environment.  With current publishing models, the publisher is generally in a more powerful position and the author at a disadvantage in any negotiation. Is that likely to change?

Shaun Khoo quotes some research carried out in the USA by Charbonneau and McGlone the results of which show that 97.8% of the relevant faculty members simply signed the agreement “as is”.

When delivering copyright training to groups of post-graduates I usually stress the importance of reading the terms and conditions of publishing agreements very carefully before signing on the dotted line.

The issue is that the pressure to get their work published in the “high impact” journals in their field leads authors to disregard questions of whether they are assigning copyright to the publisher and, if so, whether the agreement grants them any specific concessions to reuse their own work in ways that they might wish to in the future.

One should underline the importance of being prepared to the negotiate the details with the publisher if there are terms they object to or don’t fully understand. A student recently pointed out  (wisely I think) that, if an author is intending to negotiate, they had better start at as early a stage as possible, before time pressures take over.

On the other hand open access publishing models which apply Creative Commons licences do certainly allow academic authors to retain ownership of the copyright in their papers and with it the freedom to reuse their own work as they wish.

 

Translations and copyright

Chris JHolland5 June 2019

A recent enquirer asked about producing a digital version of a book which included two contributions in English by well know Czech political figures. Both the authors had died before 1949. Given that the usual copyright term of the author’s lifetime plus 70 years would apply, it follows that the published works of both authors  are out of copyright in the UK (and the EU generally), so both contributions may be digitised and made available without permission.

However, one needs to bear in mind that translations are also protected by copyright and for the same term. So that if the works had been translated into English by someone other than the author in each case, one would also need to investigate the identity and dates of the translator, in order to be certain that no additional permissions were required.