A small Christmas gift from STC: copyright reform

Subject: A small Christmas gift from STC: copyright reform
From: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 19 Dec 2005 10:14:27 -0500

Over the years, there's been a fair bit of talk about STC, both pro and con, and one practice that drew some fire from professional writers was STC's copyright policy: Like most journals and commercial publishers, STC required authors to assign copyright to their work to STC.

This past fall, I proposed a change in this policy to the new STC board, and submitted a business case for changing the policy to something that explicitly recognized the importance of this intellectual property to professional communicators, and that would hopefully set a good example for other publishers to follow. You'll be pleased to hear that I succeeded, with the help of John Hedtke, one of the new board members. (John helped me draft the proposal, added his own input, and presented it to the Board.)

The Board unanimously accepted my proposal, and STC now requests only two rights from authors: one-time print and one-time online rights. Effectively, this means that they request only the rights they need to publish our materials, but not to republish them (e.g., in a future "best of" anthology) without our permission. Better still, the December issue of _Intercom_ specifically states (on the Table of Contents page) that copyrights to all articles are held by the authors, not by STC.

So if you've been reluctant to publish with STC because you (quite reasonably) refused to assign your copyright, you can consider that obstacle to publication removed. Indeed, I encourage you to publish with STC; I've had many wonderful discussions with my readers over the years, and isn't that why we write?

Also note that if you're one of the people who criticize STC for an unwillingness to change or ignorance of the needs of its members, you now have at least one strong example that undermines this belief. You'll need to ask a Board member to bring your proposal before the Board and champion it, but in my experience, the current Board is very open to good suggestions that consider all the pros and cons, and as the copyright proposal demonstrates, they're very willing to accept and quickly implement the good proposals.

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Geoff Hart ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca
(try geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com if you don't get a reply)
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