Re: Copyright transfers? (was: STC deadlines)

Subject: Re: Copyright transfers? (was: STC deadlines)
From: TechComm Dood <techcommdood -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 27 Jul 2004 10:17:46 -0400

> It's worth noting that STC's "requirement to transfer copyright for
> symposium papers" is neither unusual nor greedy. It is, in fact, the
> standard practice adopted by most "not for profit" academic publishers
> (journals in general and STC in this particular case). Since these
> publishers barely make enough money to cover their costs, they can't
> afford to pay authors.

Cry me a river.

> Please note that I don't extend the courtesy of this understanding to
> the for-profit publishers, who by and large are a bunch of monopolistic
> pirates. But that's another rant.

Rant noted with a nod. ;-)

> Because of the way copyright law is interpreted in the U.S., it's far
> easier for such publishers to ask for a full copyright transfer than to
> negotiate one-time publication rights or something more complicated.
> If, for example, the contents of a journal or symposium proceedings
> will be included in an abstracting journal (e.g., Biology Abstracts) or
> similar publication (e.g., Current Contents), or is archived at a
> national library (e.g., Library of Congress), it would be prohibitively
> difficult to keep contacting the author to ask for permission each
> time.

So pay the author and be done with it.

> I'm not fully convinced of this logic, since a good lawyer (ahem <g>)
> should be able to write a "permission to publish" agreement in such a
> way as to leave the copyright in the author's hands without tying the
> publisher's hands, but since the "all rights" transfer is the standard
> (and I say this having worked with journals for nearly 20 years), I
> have to assume that the lawyers know something I don't.

You have no idea what a mess that can be. In this case, lawyers are
worth every penny.

> The key thing to note here is that STC "will grant a non-exclusive,
> royalty-free license or will reassign the copyright back to the author"
> on request. This is more than fair; many commercial publishers will go
> to just about any length to avoid letting you republish your own work.

Why can't the author grant the STC a non-exclusive royalty-free
licence instead, then?

> If you object to this practice, the simplest solution is to publish
> your article on your own Web site before you submit it to a conference
> proceedings or journal, thereby securing copyright to the specific
> version that you published. In my experience*, most proceedings and
> journal editors are quite happy to accept "2nd publication rights", or
> rights to the version of the article they publish. That way, everyone's
> happy.
> * 8 years signing copyright releases for the Canadian federal
> government and 10 more for my former employer.

That can still get sticky, but more times than not that'll work.

> Chuck Martin observed: <<And I'll bet this policy keeps many popular
> and well-known industry writers from presenting at the STC
> conference.>>
> This is indeed true, at least based on the anecdotal evidence that I
> have heard. But on the other hand, it doesn't stop many exceedingly
> well known authors (Saul Carliner, for instance) from publishing in
> journals. The decision comes down to your goals for publishing: if you
> publish solely for money, you go to paying markets (not non-profits)
> and try to keep whatever rights you can; if you're publishing as a
> public good, you keep the right to republish your own material, but
> don't get paid for publishing. Speaking as someone with more than 250
> publication credits, both are satisfying strategies.

I gave up on presenting at conferences. Even the paid ones were still
expensive to do. Those who consult for a living can do well at paid
conferences, as they can dedicate themselves to several sessions and
reap a profit, while marketing their services to boot. As a FTE, I
usually presented to get a kickback to reduce the cost of my trip, but
because I went to also learn, I didn't get enough out of the
conferences because I was rehearsing my own presentation in my head.

But, I can see why these consultants don't often present at the STC
conferences... they need to make money. They can't work on client
projects and be at a conference at the same time (maybe after hours
and so forth, but it's not a solid working time and certainly not a
vehicle for their best work). Therefore they look to be conpensated
for their time, which the STC doesn't do beyond a reduced entry fee.


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Copyright transfers? (was: STC deadlines): From: Geoff Hart

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