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Re: PDF request

At 9:26 AM +1000 8/18/07, Dann Pigdon wrote:
>Publishers need to make a living. If they didn't, they couldn't publish.
>Sending PDFs about willy-nilly is the equivalent of illegal music or
>movie downloads. I'm all for online journals making their own
>publications freely available after a certain amount of time, but if
>someone pays for a PDF and them distributes it for free, they're
>breaking the law.

Writers also need to make a living, but the usual interpretation of copyright 
law is a bit more nuanced. What gets publishers seriously annoyed is posting 
copyrighted material openly on the Internet for free distribution. Passing a 
single copy of a PDF to a colleague, or a copy to someone who asked for one, is 
not an issue. Openly asking if anybody wants copies and then supplying them is 
questionable (shady area of the law, and interpretations may differ). 
Requesting a single copy from a colleague is not. 

Likewise, posting whole news reports without permission is not legitimate. 
However, nobody objects to posting abstracts freely - most publishers with 
on-line editions post the abstracts freely but make full copies available only 
to paid subscribers, or for an article fee. 

>Keep in mind that I personally have scanned articles and created PDFS
>for other people (articles I've payed for), so I'm certainly guilty of
>breaking a few 'minor' copyright laws in the past (and I'll probably do
>it again). I'm just surprised that an email list would allow it. I'd
>have thought it was up there with breaking emargoes or conducting Ad
>Hominem attacks.

You raise an important point -- it is not wise to offer copies on a mailing 
list, particularly one that is archived on the Net. But asking off-line is not 
inappropriate. It's also nice when people who have the permission of publishers 
(or are publishing on open-access journals) post copies of their own research 
papers on their web site, so fellow researchers can access them. And anyone can 
scan and post PDFs of out-of-copyright publications.  

Jeff Hecht, science & technology writer
jeff@jeffhecht.com  http://www.jeffhecht.com
525 Auburn St., Auburndale, MA 02466 USA
v. 617-965-3834; fax 617-332-4760