. "5 Legal Issues in Production, Dissemination, and Use." Electronic Scientific, Technical, and Medical Journal Publishing and Its Implications: Proceedings of a Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2004.
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Electronic Scientific, Technical, and Medical Journal Publishing and its Implications: Proceedings of a Symposium
of the apparatus of employment, medical benefits, a human resources group, and so on. The smaller organizations do not have that.
One of the discussions that APS has had with a number of journals in developing countries is the possibility of their reprinting articles from the society’s journals that were sent in by authors from their country, so that they can give greater publicity to those authors and also greater publicity to their journals. There are not that many articles that come from the smallest of the journals, but it would be worthwhile helping them with their publications.
Problems Encountered in the Transfers of Copyrights
Alan Rapoport, of the National Science Foundation, noted that, based on Jane Ginsburg’s presentation, faculty may not even know who owns the copyright in the university. One can see the situation of faculty assigning the copyright to the publishers when they do not even own it. Does that happen often and what are the legal ramifications?
Jane Ginsburg responded that if an article is a work made for hire, then the author may in fact be selling the Brooklyn Bridge when signing the publishing contract. One way out of that bind is that a number of universities have their copyright policies in writing (see Table 5-1) and require their faculty to sign a special agreement, or their employment agreement incorporates the copyright policy by reference. If the university does not assert copyright, or grants back the copyright in traditional academic scholarship to the professors, that transfers the copyright to the professors, and then the professors have something to give to the publishers. It is true, however, that the ambiguity about the actual status of faculty writing potentially affects a lot of publishing contracts as well.
Problems with the University Work-for-Hire Approach to Academic Publications
Gordon Neavill, of Wayne State University, raised some more points in connection with the idea of academic work being done for hire. Many academics move from one institution to another. In that case, which institution owns the copyright? If he is teaching courses at Wayne State that he created earlier at the University of Alabama, it would be hard to see how Wayne State could claim copyright in lectures that originated elsewhere. The concept of academic freedom also suggests that the professor originates the concepts, develops them independently, and the work is not done at the behest of the university. All the university really requires is that the professor be productive, so how can the university claim copyright?
Jane Ginsburg responded that these are all very good reasons why academic work products should not be considered work made for hire. As she noted earlier, there has not actually been a court decision (with the exception of some inconclusive decisions in the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals) about whether Congress perhaps unwittingly changed the law. The University of Michigan used to take the position that everything was work for hire, but has recently changed that.