Saturday, October 04, 2008

STM on copyright: no need for education exemptions

Libraries and the educational community should take note of the STM Digital copyright exceptions and limitations for scholarly publications in the education and research communities
(Position paper of the International Association of STM Publishers), available for download from here.

In brief, the position of STM is that because education is their primary market, there is no reason for education and research to be considered a "certain special case" under the Berne convention. There is no reason to allow interlibrary loan, for example, if items are available for purchase. STM recommends licensing contracts with fewer rights than are available to libraries and educational institutions under copyright law.

The Basic Principles begins with:
STM publishers prepare and distribute their materials (scholarly and scientific journals, books and databases) for and into the research and education communities, communities that therefore constitute their most significant audiences and markets.

Comment: these arguments sound very similar to the ludicrous Conyers bill in the U.S. The basic principles imply that STM publishers are alone responsible for preparing and distributing materials. This is not correct. A great deal of the research that is published by STM publishers is paid for through publicly funded research agencies; the articles themselves are written by authors who are not paid for their work, and reviewed by peer reviewers who are not paid for their work, either. The contributions of STM publishers are real, and of value, but only a small proportion of the total resources that go into the works that they publish.

Authors - retain your rights!