[Lingtyp] European Commission on authorship transfer agreements

Martin Haspelmath haspelmath at shh.mpg.de
Tue Dec 22 14:49:39 UTC 2015

The statement about ownership of copyright needs to be interpreted in 
the context of "fair open access" publication. Most publication in 
linguistics is not (gold) open access, so publishers need to restrict 
access in order to stay in business. Hence, they need authors to 
transfer the copyright to them.

(The case that Dan Everett mentions, where an author gets royalties, is 
so marginal that we can ignore in on Lingtyp.)

Frankly, I do not understand why retaining the copyright is important 
with open access publication. Not owning the copyright is frustrating 
when the publisher refuses to give access to a work (for example, my 
2002 book "Understanding morphology" is no longer available, but the 
publisher refuses to return the copyright to me, so it's unavailable, at 
least through normal channels).

But when the publisher has agreed to make a book available in open 
access, with a liberal license, then it doesn't really matter who owns 
the copyright (it seems to me).

What matters most, it seems to me, is who owns the labels. Is the label 
"Linguistic Typology" still owned by the Association for Linguistic 
Typology? Or was it signed over to De Gruyter in exchange for favourable 
conditions? If the former, then ALT can shop around for even better 
conditions. If the latter, then each time we publish (or cite) an LT 
paper, we increase De Gruyter's income, independently of their services.


On 22.12.15 13:49, Sebastian Nordhoff wrote:
> Dear list,
> following up on the discussion about copyright and availability, I 
> offer a recent blogpost by the European Commission 
> (https://ec.europa.eu/futurium/en/content/fair-open-occess-and-future-scientific-publishing)
> """
> * Fair open access could also be seen as a question of ownership. Who 
> owns publications? Who has the copyright? Probably authors. As a 
> matter of principle, copyright should therefore probably not be signed 
> over to other actors such as publishers. Therefore, open access 
> publications should be licenced in adequate ways. Creative Commons 
> licences could be a good way to do this systematically.
> """
> Note that you can leave comments on the page, which will actually be 
> read by the relevant people in Brussels, so this is a nice opportunity 
> to make your voice heard.
> Best wishes
> Sebastian
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Martin Haspelmath (haspelmath at shh.mpg.de)
Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History
Kahlaische Strasse 10	
D-07745 Jena
Leipzig University
Beethovenstrasse 15
D-04107 Leipzig

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