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Re: PDF request

On Sat, Aug 18, 2007 at 09:26:26AM +1000, Dann Pigdon scripsit:
> Publishers need to make a living. If they didn't, they couldn't
> publish.

Which is no problem.

Journal publishers would *like* to publish, but that doesn't mean that
they *must*, or that the mechanisms of scientific enquiry are required
to be structured for their benefit.

It would have been a problem when someone needed the printing press, and
the guy to cast type, and so on, but you can do the whole thing with
free -- as in speech, and as in beer -- software these days.

Which means that the value-add of just putting the thing on paper is
frequently _negative_ -- as already noted, you can't grep dead goats,
paper is heavy, and printing is expensive.

Peer review and editing can come as professional courtesies and
peer-supported, grant-supported, or academic-position-supported things;
there isn't any actively pressing reason (other than tradition and a
concern over stability of archives) to print anything, and so no really
immediate need for journal publishers.

Copyright isn't, in any case, a property right in the same sense that
'these are my shoes' is a property right.  It's a constraint on
commercial reproduction of information, and it didn't exist during the
Enlightenment or even into the early Victorian period.

Not to mention, most journals do not _buy_ copy; you pay them to be
published.  It's not a clear purchase of rights transaction, though the
terms may well involve a time period without free dissemination of the
content, but the question of what rights the author(s) retain isn't
simple or standardized.

I tend to assume the authors offering PDF copies are in a licit position
to do so.

> 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.

Fifteen hundred year scholarly and scientific tradition of free copying
of work with attribution scrupulously preserved versus a hundred-odd
years of commercial copyright and less than fifty years of determined
effort to equate copyright with a property right; which do you think
ought to win?

It's not like -- I was going to say, the majority, but I doubt there are
_any_ -- paleontologists typically labour under an extensive research
budget so vast that they are uncertain how to spend it all.  Given a
choice between continuing the tradition of freely sharing work with
other scientists and making things more difficult and more expensive I
think I'll go with tradition, myself.

-- Graydon