Digital Culture Legal Issues Library Issues Master's Paper

Perils of Strong Copyright, continued

The last 24 hours have been quite interesting! The feedback has been roaring in…99% positive, with a few corrections and questions sent my way. One gentleman from Canada pointed out my misuse of the term “schizophrenic” on page 8, which I appreciate. I was looking for something more along the lines of “hypocritically” and may have unintentionally misused the term.

I did receive one response from someone associated with the ALA, specifically Knowledge Quest (KQWeb, to be precise). Laura Pearle, the associate editor of KQWeb said:

“I read with interest your comments about Open Access and ALA. As Associate Editor for KQWeb, I am aware of their policies and it appears to me that you have misrepresented the ALA’s position. In your appendix you have copies of the two copyright agreements ALA offers. One does assign to ALA all rights. The other, however, only assigns limited rights (that of first publication) and the rest remain with the author. It is the author’s choice, not ALA’s, which agreement is signed….

…You might want to re-read the agreements and rework your thesis on the basis of that rereading. ”

I must say that I do not believe that I have misrepresented the ALA’s position (indeed, I think I have described that they don’t currently know their position, since they say one thing, and behave differently). As far as Knowledge Quest specifically, perhaps I was confused by the following passage on the “Instructions for Authors” portion of the KQ website , where it states:


A manuscript published in the journal is subject to copyright by the American Library Association for the American Association of School Librarians. Additional information about copyright policies is available from the ALA Office of Rights and Permission.”

That seemed a reasonably clear statement. If there is the opportunity for authors to retain copyright, perhaps this statement should be altered to reflect that.

4 replies on “Perils of Strong Copyright, continued”

I’m curious: before you trash(ed) ALA’s policies, did you
a) ask your thesis advisors how they were treated when (if) publishing with ALA, and/or
b) contact the ALA Publishing office for any clarifications?

Since one of the realities of our profession is to evaluate the veracity of the information we find, I’m wondering why you see professional journals as the bad guys. . . esp. in academia, where ‘publish or perish’ still does not accept the open Web as an authoritative publishing venue.

I do not believe that I “trashed” anyone, nor was my paper any attempt at such. I simply pointed out the public face that the ALA seems to be presenting on both sides of the coin, and asked why it was that they see in conflict.

In that I was relying on the “public” face of the ALA, I relied on the statements presented on the websites for Authors (as seen in the Appendix).

I absolutely do not believe, nor do I believe that I painted, “professional journals” as the “bad guys.” I simply pointed out what I see as an inconsistency within the profession.

As a matter of fact, the next thing I plan to work on will be an examination of why it is that the “open web” is not sufficient for tenure review, and the culture of scholarship that has become entrenched in this belief. I see it as short-sightedness on the part of academia.

Perils of Strong Copyright, published on the web under a Creative Commons license, certainly seems to be generating “scholarly” comments and concerns.

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