Copyright transfer agreement

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A copyright transfer agreement is a legal document containing provisions for the conveyance of full or partial copyright from the rights owner to another party. It is similar to contracts signed between authors and publishers but does not normally involve the payment of remuneration or royalties.[1] Such agreements are a key element of subscription-based academic publishing,[2] and have been said to facilitate the handling of copyright-based permissions in print-only publishing.[3] In the age of electronic communication, the benefits of copyright transfer agreements have been questioned,[4] and while they remain the norm, open licenses as used in open access publishing have been established as an alternative.[5]

History[edit]

Copyright transfer agreements became common in the publishing business after the Copyright Act of 1976 in the United States and similar legislation in other countries[6] redefined copyright as accruing to the author from the moment of creation (rather than publication) of a work.[4] This required publishers to acquire copyrights from the creator in order to sell the works or access to it, and written statements signed by the rights owner became necessary in order for the copyright transfer to be considered valid.[2][7]

Purpose[edit]

The situation where authors hold the copyright usually involves considerable effort in the form of correspondence and record keeping and often leads to unnecessary delays. Although this may appear to be trivial for a few requests, a good scholarly journal publishing exciting papers can expect several hundred requests per year; a task of this magnitude can become onerous. On the other hand, if the Journal holds the copyright, requests, value judgements, and permissions can be handled expeditiously to the satisfaction of all concerned.

— J. Lagowski (1982)[3]

Granting publishers the permission to copy, display and distribute the work is necessary for publishers to act as such, and copyright transfer agreements across a wide range of publishers have such provisions.[1][8] The reach of copyright transfer agreements can go well beyond that, and "[s]ome publishers require that, to the extent possible, copyright be transferred to them."[2] This means that no one, including the authors, can reuse text, tables, or figures in other publications without first getting permission from the new copyright owner.[9]

Copyright transfer agreements also ask that the authors confirm to actually own the copyright for all the materials pertaining to a given act of publishing, and that the item for which the copyright is to be transferred has not been previously published and is not under consideration to be published elsewhere,[9] to limit the frequency of duplicate publication and plagiarism.[1][10]

Criticisms[edit]

Critics have said that the copyright transfer agreement in commercial scholarly publishing is "as much about ensuring long–term asset management as it is about providing service to the academic community" because the practice seems to grant favor to the publisher in a way that does not obviously benefit the content creators.[11] Copyright transfer agreements often conflict with self-archiving practices[12] or appear to do so due to ambiguous language.[13]

Other models[edit]

Copyright transfer agreements are one way to govern permissions based on copyright. Since the advent of digital publishing, various commentators have pointed out the benefits of author-retained copyright,[4][14] and publishers have started to implement it[15] using license agreements, wherein the author of the work retains copyright and gives the publisher the permission (exclusive or not) to reproduce and distribute the work. A third model is the so-called "browse-wrap" or "click-wrap" license model[16] that is becoming more and more popular in the form of the Creative Commons licenses: it allows anyone (including the publisher) to reproduce and distribute the work, with some possible restrictions. Creative Commons licenses are used by many open access journals.[17]

Author addenda[edit]

Copyright transfer agreements are usually prepared by the publisher, and some print journals include a copy of the statement in every issue they published.[18] If authors wish to deviate from the default phrasing – e.g., if they want to retain copyright or would not like to grant the publisher an exclusive right to publish – they can specify desired modifications, either by editing the document directly or by attaching an addendum to a copy of the default version. Publisher policies on the acceptance of such addenda vary, though. Some institutions offer instructions and assistance for staff in creating such addenda.[19][20]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Gadd, E.; Oppenheim, C.; Probets, S. (2003). "RoMEO studies 4: An analysis of journal publishers' copyright agreements". Learned Publishing 16 (4): 293. doi:10.1087/095315103322422053.  edit
  2. ^ a b c Friedman, B. A. (1982). "Copyright from a permissions person's point of view". Journal of Chemical Information and Modeling 22 (2): 70–72. doi:10.1021/ci00034a001.  edit
  3. ^ a b Lagowski, J. (1982). "Journal Copyright Problems: An Editor's View". Journal of Chemical Information and Modeling 22 (2): 72–73. doi:10.1021/ci00034a600.  edit
  4. ^ a b c Bachrach, S.; Berry, R. S.; Blume, M.; Von Foerster, T.; Fowler, A.; Ginsparg, P.; Heller, S.; Kestner, N.; Odlyzko, A.; Okerson, A.; Wigington, R.; Moffat, A. (1998). "INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY:Who Should Own Scientific Papers?". Science 281 (5382): 1459–1460. doi:10.1126/science.281.5382.1459. PMID 9750115.  edit
  5. ^ Carroll, M. W. (2011). "Why Full Open Access Matters". PLoS Biology 9 (11): e1001210. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1001210. PMC 3226455. PMID 22140361.  edit
  6. ^ "Transfer of Copyright". Journal of Applied Crystallography 11: 63–64. 1978. doi:10.1107/S0021889878012753.  edit
  7. ^ Section 204 of the Copyright Act of 1976
  8. ^ Gaeta, T. J. (1999). "Authorship: "Law" and Order". Academic Emergency Medicine 6 (4): 297–301. doi:10.1111/j.1553-2712.1999.tb00393.x. PMID 10230981.  edit
  9. ^ a b Berquist, T. H. (2009). "The Copyright Transfer Agreement: We Sign It, but Do We Understand It?". American Journal of Roentgenology 192 (4): 849–841. doi:10.2214/AJR.09.2655.  edit
  10. ^ Lee, I. S.; Spector, M. (2012). "Coping with copying and conflicts (of interest)". Biomedical Materials 7 (1): 010201. doi:10.1088/1748-6041/7/1/010201. PMID 22287538.  edit
  11. ^ Willinsky, John (4 November 2002). "Copyright Contradictions in Scholarly Publishing". First Monday (journal) 7 (11). Retrieved 20 February 2012. 
  12. ^ Gadd, E.; Oppenheim, C.; Probets, S. (2003). "RoMEO studies 1: The impact of copyright ownership on academic author self-archiving". Journal of Documentation 59 (3): 243. doi:10.1108/00220410310698239.  edit
  13. ^ Coleman, A. (2007). "Self-archiving and the Copyright Transfer Agreements of ISI-ranked library and information science journals". Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 58 (2): 286. doi:10.1002/asi.20494.  edit
  14. ^ Wilbanks, J. (2006). "Another reason for opening access to research". BMJ 333 (7582): 1306–1308. doi:10.1136/sbmj.39063.730660.F7. PMC 1761190. PMID 17185718.  edit
  15. ^ Watt, F. M.; Sever, R. (2004). "Non-profit publishing: Open access and the end of copyright transfer". Journal of Cell Science 117 (Pt 1): 1. doi:10.1242/jcs.00873. PMID 14657267.  edit
  16. ^ Burk, Dan L. (2007). "Intellectual Property in the Context of e-Science". Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 12 (2). 
  17. ^ Molloy, J. C. (2011). "The Open Knowledge Foundation: Open Data Means Better Science". PLoS Biology 9 (12): e1001195. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1001195. PMC 3232214. PMID 22162946.  edit
  18. ^ "Forthcoming papers". Applied Physics A: Solids and Surfaces 59: A5–A5. 1994. doi:10.1007/BF00348410.  edit
  19. ^ "Author rights: using the SPARC Author Addendum to secure your rights as the author of a journal article". SPARC. Retrieved 20 November 2013. 
  20. ^ "Amend a Publishing Agreement". Harvard University Library. Retrieved 20 November 2013. 

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