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Roger Clarke's 'A Copyright Licence for PostPrints'

A Standard Copyright Licence for PostPrints

Roger Clarke **

Version of 17 September 2005

© Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd, 2005

Creative
Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.1 Australia Licence.

Alternatively, available under an AEShareNet Free
for Education licence, with an extension to permit use for research purposes.

This document is at http://www.rogerclarke.com/EC/PostPrLic.html


Abstract

The term 'PostPrints' refers to the revised versions of papers that have been through the refereeing process, and been accepted for publication. A PostPrint may be placed on the author's own web-site, or in an institutional or disciplinary repository.

It is important that people who access copies of PostPrints be provided with a copyright licence with explicit terms that are appropriate to this type of publication, rather than implied ones that may have unfortunate side-effects.

Consideration is given to the appropriate terms in the several circumstances in which PostPrints are published. In each case, a particular Creative Commons licence-type is recommended.


Contents


1. Introduction

Academics commonly make their work available to colleagues in the form of draft articles. These are frequently referred to as 'PrePrints', because the intention usually exists to later submit a revised version to a refereed venue such as an academic conference or journal.

In general, authors own copyright in their PrePrints; and if they don't, then usually someone else does. In general, when they provide copies to other people, or enable other people to acquire copies, they grant some kind of copyright licence to those people. Unfortunately, it may be far from clear what the terms of the licence are.

In Clarke (2005), I analysed the requirements of a copyright licence for PrePrints, and concluded that an appropriate licence-type was the Creative Commons Attribution / NonCommercial / No Derivative Rights (By-NC-ND) variant. An overview of the licence terms is available at CC (2003a) and the full terms are at CC (2003b). Many other versions are available, including the equivalent Australian licence, for which the overview is at CC (2004a) and the full terms at CC (2004b).

This paper examines a closely related question: What is an appropriate licence-type for authors to make available for PostPrints, i.e. for the revised versions of papers that have been through the refereeing process, and been accepted for publication.

The interests of authors and other parties are carefully examined in section 3 of Clarke (2005). In brief, it is concluded that most authors are likely to want their papers to have wide availability, but with some controls over the integrity of the content, and over parties seeking to profit from their use without prior discussion with the author. Authors who wish to provide an even more open licence than the recommended By-NC-ND licence can choose among five other variants.

For simplicity, this paper assumes that the copyright-ownership is, at least initially, with the author, and that there is a sole author. Slightly different expressions are needed if there are joint authors. If the copyright is owned by, for example, a research institute or a company, then the author's capacity to make a PostPrint available is likely to be subject to that organisation's policies.

There are a number of different circumstances that need to be considered:

  1. the author retains copyright-ownership;
  2. the publisher requires the author to assign copyright to it, but in return provides the author with a licence to re-publish;
  3. the publisher requires the author to assign copyright to it, and either does not provide the author with a licence to re-publish, or provides a severely restricted licence.

The following sections consider each of these circumstances in turn.


2. Author-Owned Papers

Many conferences and journals place no restrictions on the paper subsequently appearing elsewhere. This section considers the copyright-licensing aspects, firstly, of the publication of the paper by the refereed venue, and then of the PostPrint.

2.1 The Conference or Journal Publication

The conference or journal organisers do not request assignment of the copyright to them, but do require a licence to publish the article (in paper form, machine-readable form such as CD, and/or on a web-site, as appropriate).

It is advisable that the version published in the conference proceedings or journal make clear the copyright-licence terms applicable to each paper. For example, the version of Clarke (2005) published in the eJournal First Monday carries a copyright-notice that makes a specific Creative Commons licence available.

2.2 The PostPrint

The author owns the copyright in the base paper. Except in the unlikely circumstance that the author granted the conference or journal an exclusive licence to publish, the author remains free to further publish the article in the form of a PostPrint. In particular, the author may:

Note, however, that the version that appeared in the conference proceedings or journal may have been published in a particular style (e.g. a PDF with particular fonts, page-headers and footers, etc.). If so, the copyright in that particular presentation of the paper may belong to the publisher not the author. In that case, the author may be precluded from making that particular version available, and may need to instead publish their own, original text, or use a formatting tool provided by the repository.

The important question now arises as to what the author wants people to be able to do with the PostPrint, and not to be able to do with it.

As with the PrePrint some time earlier, the author's intention is likely to be that the paper as a whole be widely available. On the other hand, the author is likely to want to retain some controls over the integrity of the paper, and to prevent other parties from making a financial profit from it without prior discussion with the author.

The appropriate licence terms therefore appear to be essentially the same as those applicable to a PrePrint. The terms proposed in section 4 of Clarke (2005) are as follows:

So the appropriate licence is once again the Creative Commons Attribution / NonCommercial / No Derivative Rights (By-NC-ND) variant. The author can choose to make such a licence available subject to the laws of various countries. The Creative Commons site provides a base version, which reflects U.S. law, and further versions adapted to a growing list of other national jurisidictions.

For example, the PostPrint version of Clarke (2005) is subject to the Australian Creative Commons By-NC-ND licence.


3. Journal-Owned Papers - 'Green' and 'Blue'

Some conferences and journals require that the author assign the copyright in the paper to some organisation (which may be an association, or a corporation). However, many of the venues that do so also provide a licence back to the author, which enables the author to further publish it. That licence may be subject to some conditions.

The terms 'Green' and 'Blue' arise from a U.K. project called Romeo, whose successor is the Sherpa project on open access to research. The relevant Romeo/Sherpa colour definitions are as follows:

This section considers the copyright-licensing aspects, firstly, of the publication of the paper by the refereed venue, and then of the PostPrint.

3.1 The Conference or Journal Publication

The copyright is assigned to the conference or journal organisers, and they are therefore able to publish the article (in paper form, machine-readable form such as CD, and/or on a web-site, as appropriate).

They are also able to decide what copyright-licence terms will be applicable to each paper. These may be:

3.2 The PostPrint

The author has a licence from the new copyright-owner, which permits the paper to be further published, e.g. on the author's own site, in an institutional repository, and/or in a disciplinary repository.

This may be subject to conditions, such as:

Once again, the appropriate licence appears to be the Creative Commons Attribution / NonCommercial / No Derivative Rights (By-NC-ND) variant.


4. Journal-Owned Papers - 'Yellow' and 'White'

Some conferences and journals require that the author assign the copyright in the paper to some organisation, and do not provide a licence back to the author enabling the author to further publish it.

The copyright is assigned to the conference or journal organisers, and they are therefore able to publish the article (in paper form, machine-readable form such as CD, and/or on a web-site, as appropriate). They are also able to decide what copyright-licence terms will be applicable to each paper.

The relevant Romeo/Sherpa colour definitions are as follows:

The terms of the copyright assignment that the author is required to sign may pass all powers in respect of the paper to the organisation ('White'). This form of very close proprietary control over the outcomes of research activities has been increasingly questioned in recent years.

Where the terms of the copyright assignment permit the PrePrint to remain publicly available ('Yellow'), the Creative Commons Attribution / NonCommercial / No Derivative Rights (By-NC-ND) continues to be appropriate. The conference or journal may impose the condition that the PrePrint be augmented with a link to the refereed version of the paper; but this is desirable in any case.


5. Conclusions

This paper has considered what kind of copyright-licence authors should make available with PostPrints of their refereed articles. It appears that the Creative Commons Attribution / NonCommercial / No Derivative Rights (By-NC-ND) licence-type provides the most appropriate balance among the interests of the various parties.

This paper, and its partner Clarke (2005), together suggest that all authors should adopt this licence-type for both PrePrints and PostPrints.

To achieve this is straightforward. The author needs to insert into the paper the HTML provided by Creative Commons, using whichever of the following national variants they prefer:

Further, the papers together suggest that all repositories should:


Author Affiliations

Roger Clarke is Principal of Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd, Canberra. He is also a Visiting Professor in the E-Commerce Programme at the University of Hong Kong, Visiting Professor in the Baker & McKenzie Cyberspace Law & Policy Centre at the University of N.S.W., and Visiting Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the Australian National University.



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Created: 24 August 2005 - Last Amended: 17 September 2005 by Roger Clarke - Site Last Verified: 15 February 2009
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