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posted by martyb on Sunday May 18 2014, @10:45AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the publish-AND-perish? dept.

The American Society of Civil Engineers is cracking down on researchers who post their own articles on their personal websites. The publisher, which owns dozens of highly cited journals, claims that the authors commit copyright infringement by sharing their work in public. To make their work easier to access, many researchers host copies of their work on their personal profiles, usually hosted by their university. Interestingly, however, this usually means that they are committing copyright infringement.

While many journals allow this type of limited non-commercial infringement by the authors, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) clearly doesn't. The professional association publishes dozens of journals and during the past few weeks began a crack down on "pirating" researchers.

Thanks go to who also sent news of this article to us.

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  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by moo kuh on Sunday May 18 2014, @10:56AM

    by moo kuh (2044) on Sunday May 18 2014, @10:56AM (#44826) Journal
    Unfortunately, the journals might get their way. Considering the Aaron Swartz case, while it never made it to court so there is no precedence yet, the attitude of the prosecution is obvious. They may even have legal technicalities on their side. There is a series of videos [youtube.com] of an MIT IP law course on youtube that shows how insane U.S. IP law can be. Any research funded by the public through grants or student tuition, should be accessible by the public at no charge. Why should the U.S. public have to pay for research twice? Sure, journals can claim they have people that review articles, but I'm sure most of you remember some recent research that shows otherwise (finding it left as an exercise to the reader). Since the journals obviously aren't reviewing what is being published like they should, what is the point of having them as middlemen?
    • (Score: 2, Interesting) by VLM on Sunday May 18 2014, @11:56AM

      by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Sunday May 18 2014, @11:56AM (#44838)

      "Any research funded by the public through grants or student tuition"

      Its only 90% funded by federal grants and student tuition, and the remaining 10% was from the endowment or whatever, so you need a short little perl script that only outputs 90% of the words in the paper. The DoD / DoE / whatever contributed money, but that money was spent on something directly relevant to the task but not interesting to read about, like safety gear or health insurance or grad student stipends but the actual paper, as in committing words and drawings to paper, was entirely funded by XYZ.

      Not saying I agree with any of it, but the slogan is already full of a zillion loopholes that need addressing, or rephrased, if the loopholes were addressed as the cause, then the effect would have resolved itself a long time ago.

      Frankly neither the universities as middlemen or the journals as middlemen contribute much if anything, and should be routed around. Simply stop donating public funds to universities for research and the situation will kinda resolve itself.

      • (Score: 3, Informative) by moo kuh on Sunday May 18 2014, @02:52PM

        by moo kuh (2044) on Sunday May 18 2014, @02:52PM (#44880) Journal

        I disagree with your statement that the universities don't offer much. They give researchers a stable job and benefits. They provide research assistants in the form of graduate students. They provide equipment and facilities.

        • (Score: 2) by VLM on Sunday May 18 2014, @03:00PM

          by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Sunday May 18 2014, @03:00PM (#44881)

          Ah, offer much that only a university can offer. Most private sector employers offer all the same features. I'm having trouble thinking of something only a university can offer.

          • (Score: 3, Insightful) by redneckmother on Sunday May 18 2014, @03:12PM

            by redneckmother (3597) on Sunday May 18 2014, @03:12PM (#44883)

            Well, I was going to say "freedom from profit motivation", but then I reconsidered.

            --
            Mas cerveza por favor.
          • (Score: 4, Insightful) by maxwell demon on Sunday May 18 2014, @03:38PM

            by maxwell demon (1608) on Sunday May 18 2014, @03:38PM (#44893) Journal

            Good luck getting fundamental research without any chance of creating a product in the next twenty years to get funded by a private company.

            --
            The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
            • (Score: 2) by tibman on Sunday May 18 2014, @05:01PM

              by tibman (134) Subscriber Badge on Sunday May 18 2014, @05:01PM (#44929)

              You are right of course, all the research done is pointed in a specific direction. If you do R&D for Corning then you know you'll be making some kind of glass. But i'd say that within your niche that the research could be pure and not just applied. At least i hope so!

              --
              SN won't survive on lurkers alone. Write comments.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 18 2014, @12:39PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 18 2014, @12:39PM (#44846)

      It's not just US IP law -- you have to sign copyright release forms on acceptance, and they detail your rights quite clearly, though I'd add the journals I've published in tend to have special extra clauses for researchers working in the US. In the journals I've published in those rights include publishing a copy of a pre-print on your personal website and on a managed pre-print server (such as arXiv) but do not extend to publishing hard-copy, disseminating to electronic publishing outlets, and in some cases not even on your university's website except on your personal pages.

      Right or wrong, the conditions are normally pretty clear. They're also normally pretty flouted in unimportant ways, but if the journals wanted to clamp down a lot of people wouldn't have much leg to stand on.

  • (Score: 3, Informative) by Dr Ippy on Sunday May 18 2014, @11:17AM

    by Dr Ippy (3973) on Sunday May 18 2014, @11:17AM (#44829)

    It's not quite as bad as it sounds; the journal owns the copyright to the published article, but usually the authors retain some rights. For example, the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) allows you to put up your own version of the paper. This is often done in the form of a "preprint", "preliminary version" or "technical report" whose content is almost identical to that of the published paper, but differently formatted. In other words, the content itself remains the intellectual property of the author and they can do what they like with it, more or less, short of publishing it in another journal.

    I'm outside the USA so I'm not too bothered about American IP laws. I've put most of my publications (including ones from US journals) online at my own website; some of them are scans of the published version. I've never been asked to take anything down, but if I were, I'd replace the link to the paper with an email link: "Email me if you'd like to see this paper." (My email address is already well known to spammers, so meh... .)

    --
    This signature intentionally left blank.
  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by morpheus on Sunday May 18 2014, @12:08PM

    by morpheus (1989) on Sunday May 18 2014, @12:08PM (#44841)

    The journals only own the copyright for the paper itself. The ideas in the paper are not anyone's property (not exactly true but pretty close). Moreover, after satisfying the referee's wishes, the editor's wishes, size constraints, etc, the original paper often becomes less informative (in the case of engineering papers, it is very often gutted of any technical details).

    So ... Put a `2.0' version on your site: it will present the research better, in the format you want, and the publisher of your original paper, has no say in it. Of course, many researchers write papers just to have them published and have no interest in the results. Well, in this case, maybe it might have been better not to publish in the first place.

    • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Oligonicella on Sunday May 18 2014, @01:44PM

      by Oligonicella (4169) on Sunday May 18 2014, @01:44PM (#44861)

      This is the answer. The authors knowingly signed off their copyrights, so they have no legal footing. Either do no such thing or (best to retain original) create two versions and ensure they don't share content. Also, self-publish your version first.

      • (Score: 3, Informative) by maxwell demon on Sunday May 18 2014, @03:40PM

        by maxwell demon (1608) on Sunday May 18 2014, @03:40PM (#44895) Journal

        One of the conditions journals have for publication is that the material is not yet published anywhere. And yes, that is about the content, not the exact form. Anything already published will not be accepted for publication at the journal.

        --
        The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
        • (Score: 1) by morpheus on Sunday May 18 2014, @05:38PM

          by morpheus (1989) on Sunday May 18 2014, @05:38PM (#44941)

          Of course, `published' has a rather vague definition and usually means `published in another professional journal'. Also, it does not preclude you from publishing another version later.

          • (Score: 2) by maxwell demon on Sunday May 18 2014, @06:04PM

            by maxwell demon (1608) on Sunday May 18 2014, @06:04PM (#44950) Journal

            My comment was directed at "Also, self-publish your version first." I probably should have cited that sentence.

            --
            The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
            • (Score: 1) by Oligonicella on Sunday May 18 2014, @07:06PM

              by Oligonicella (4169) on Sunday May 18 2014, @07:06PM (#44968)

              Given. Keep the detailed version you start with and self-publish later then. Timing, not concept.

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by kaszz on Sunday May 18 2014, @12:52PM

    by kaszz (4211) on Sunday May 18 2014, @12:52PM (#44850) Journal

    Perhaps authors of the papers shouldn't sign away rights of the results from tax payer funded research? or they could do so by refunding the state with interest?
    The journal could of course buy the results from the institution that funded it.

    The situation where tax payers fund research and journals holds these results at ransom is simple theft.

    • (Score: 2, Insightful) by MickLinux on Monday May 19 2014, @02:36AM

      by MickLinux (2659) on Monday May 19 2014, @02:36AM (#45069)

      How about this: get a law passed that authors at publicly funded institutions do not have the right to sign away ownesrship, not having full ownership.

      Or better, get it declared through the courts. When the ASCE goes after a university or professor, the university sues the ASCE as plaintiff, pointing out that THEY didn't sign away their rights, and that the ASCE has violated THEIR ownership.

      • (Score: 2) by kaszz on Monday May 19 2014, @11:48AM

        by kaszz (4211) on Monday May 19 2014, @11:48AM (#45169) Journal

        I like this ;-)

        (until the university management gets "lobbyied")

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by SpockLogic on Sunday May 18 2014, @01:01PM

    by SpockLogic (2762) on Sunday May 18 2014, @01:01PM (#44853)

    Publicly funded research should only be published in Open Access Journals, problem solved.

    --
    Overreacting is one thing, sticking your head up your ass hoping the problem goes away is another - edIII
    • (Score: 2) by evilviper on Monday May 19 2014, @07:28AM

      by evilviper (1760) on Monday May 19 2014, @07:28AM (#45116) Homepage Journal

      Publicly funded research should only be published in Open Access Journals, problem solved.

      You don't know what Open Access Journals ARE, do you? They general require the authors to pay them thousands of dollars to get their article published. Not to mention problems of low readership and suspect credibility.

      So, what you want is for the research to get MORE EXPENSIVE, and be less useful. Calling that "problem solved" is mind-numbingly stupid.

      --
      Hydrogen cyanide is a delicious and necessary part of the human diet.
      • (Score: 2) by SpockLogic on Monday May 19 2014, @12:50PM

        by SpockLogic (2762) on Monday May 19 2014, @12:50PM (#45190)

        You don't know what Open Access Journals ARE, do you?

        There is a difference between fee-based and no-fee open-access journals. I was proposing the latter.

        Your comment makes you sound like a shill for Elsevier.

        --
        Overreacting is one thing, sticking your head up your ass hoping the problem goes away is another - edIII
        • (Score: 2) by evilviper on Tuesday May 20 2014, @09:17AM

          by evilviper (1760) on Tuesday May 20 2014, @09:17AM (#45539) Homepage Journal

          There is a difference between fee-based and no-fee open-access journals. I was proposing the latter.

          You might as well be talking about magic pixie dust. Extremely few no-fee open-access journals exist, and those tend to rely on the same grants that funds public research, so it's still a higher public cost.

          Your comment makes you sound like a shill for Elsevier.

          No, it makes me sound like a rational human being, who has some knowledge of the subject others are spouting stupid statements about.

          --
          Hydrogen cyanide is a delicious and necessary part of the human diet.
  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by plnykecky on Sunday May 18 2014, @01:05PM

    by plnykecky (4276) on Sunday May 18 2014, @01:05PM (#44855)

    ...to be really very US-specific. From my own experience, if I need a paywalled paper and my institution does not have a subscription (which is a very common case around EU), there is still a handful of illegal and untrackable options:

    1) ask my librarian, he will get it from some colleague in another institution
    2) ask a friend in another institution
    2) mail the author, who will be happy that somebody reads their work
    4) go to certain .ru site that hosts more copyrighted material than Aaron (eternal glory to him!) ever dreamed to set free

    I know in US such thing can get really tough, but I wish you could understand that common people here really do not give a **** about copyright at all!

    • (Score: 2) by kaszz on Sunday May 18 2014, @01:15PM

      by kaszz (4211) on Sunday May 18 2014, @01:15PM (#44858) Journal

      What would we do without Russia ;-)

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 18 2014, @03:20PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 18 2014, @03:20PM (#44884)

        The Pirate Bay.

  • (Score: 2, Funny) by Myxlplic on Monday May 19 2014, @10:00AM

    by Myxlplic (4331) on Monday May 19 2014, @10:00AM (#45145)

    It would appear as the American Society of Civil Engineers isn't...