Scholarly copyright: grotesque, pointless impediment, or fatuous waste of time and effort?

Mike Taylor on the damage that copyright does to research: “In this model, the sole purpose of copyright is to prevent access to the research. The only thing it achieves is to stop people from reading, using and re-using the work.”

Sauropod Vertebra Picture of the Week

In the world of novel-writing, people spend their own time creating art — writing. Creative works come into being, and their copyright is (at least initially) owned by the creators. This gives them a legal monopoly on copies of their own work, which they can exploit either directly (by selling copies) or indirectly (by selling the copyright itself to a body that will make that money back over time by selling copies). Either way, the creators get paid, which recompenses them for the time they spent creating, and gives them both the incentive and opportunity to create more.

That may be an idealised version of how things work, but it’s basically right.

In the world of scholarship, things work very differently. Researchers write papers, and their copyright is (at least initially) owned by the creators. The creators then give the copyright to publishers, often even paying the publishers for…

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About protohedgehog

Palaeontologist, just completed a PhD at Imperial College environmental drivers of biodiversity and extinction through geological time. Passionate about science communication and opening up the research process. Tweets vigorously as @protohedgehog. Freelance science writer and consultant, and author of kids book Excavate Dinosaurs.

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