Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Copyright on different versions

Lolly Gasaway, Copyright protection for successive versions, İollectanea, May 30, 2007.  Excerpt:

Over the past few days, a very interesting discussion has taken place on the listserv for Intellectual Property professors, and that is whether a work must be complete before it can be infringed. Examples of musical works such as jazz compositions were discussed along with early versions of literary works. This made me think about libraries and archival collections that hold literary manuscripts. Certainly, in the United States, before a copyright owner can sue an infringer, the work must be registered with the Copyright Office....

Comment.  Thanks to Klaus Graf for the alert.  In his email to me, he asked this basic question:  "If an author signs a copyright transfer for the final draft, is he free to use the preprint (an earlier version) for a repository?"  First, a key piece of context:  about 91% of non-OA journals allow preprint archiving and about 63% allow postprint archiving.  If we limit the question to the small minority of journals that allow neither, then I suspect that the answer will depend on how much the published version differs from the preprint.  But as far as I know the question has never been litigated.  If it has, I'd be grateful if someone could point me to the case(s).