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Re: PDF request

I'd certainly pay 99 cents for a pdf. Does anyone actually pay the $40 journals' sites charge for a single pdf 5-30 pages long? I love theropods more than most people on earth, but even I simply wouldn't pay $40 to read the Suzhousaurus description, for example. No 11 pages is worth five hours of work. Paleontologists aren't exactly rolling in dough to begin with. If I had paid $40 for every theropod pdf I've downloaded in 2007, I would have spent over $5000!!! That's over 80% of my salary, and those don't include all the non-theropod pdfs I downloaded either. So yeah, I'm interested to know who can actually afford such things, because my suspicion is none of us can, and we only have the references to do our work via a semilegal social network of e-mail, file sharing sites and leaching off of institutional access.

Mickey Mortmer

From: "franklin e. bliss" <frank@blissnet.com>
Reply-To: frank@blissnet.com
To: dinosaur@usc.edu
Subject: Re: PDF request
Date: Fri, 17 Aug 2007 21:26:07 -0600

But anyone can go to a library and make a photo-copy for their own use (fair use). Seems somehow out of balance doesn't it? This fair use ability needs to be extended to the internet. There is a definite move toward more free transmission of intellectual property. Many musical bands self-promote by giving away free songs. Itunes sells any use songs for $1.20 US versus $0.99 cent limited use songs. There are ways of dealing with the technology, but there is just not a universal clearing house of paleontological information available yet. Some one needs to develop an "itunes" for paleontologica. I am not talking about the 20 bucks (or more) a year that one journal might charge, but the $0.99 cents a .pdf kind of thing. More of a SCITUNES (I now own the right to that word!).

Frank (Rooster) Bliss
MS Biostratigraphy
Weston, Wyoming

On Aug 17, 2007, at 8:12 PM, Jeff Hecht wrote:

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