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Danah Boyd: open-access is the future: boycott locked-down academic journals

Danah Boyd is a PhD student at UC Berkeley's school of information. Here's her impassioned plea for open access journals:

"I vow that this is the last article that I will publish to which the public cannot get access. I am boycotting locked-down journals and I'd like to ask other academics to do the same."

Make sure you read the comments too. For example, Peter Suber, one of the foremost open access advocates, recommends using the SHERPA/RoMEO database to find out whether a given journal or publisher allows for some form of author self-archiving; and Danah herself points to critiques of her stand in this comment.

Bottom line -- no matter which side of the open access debate you find yourself intellectually -- is to hold on to your copyright (or demand that the journal accept a creative commons license), ask the journal in which you're publishing about their rules for pre/post-prints and individual archiving, and ask your library how they can help you archive and distribute your article more widely (i.e., via institutional/post-print repositories etc).

Q&A: Tracing copyright

Question:
I have a poem, originally written in the 19th Century, but not published until the 1970s. I want to use it in a publication of my own. Do I need permission, if it's a 19th Century poem, and, if I do, how do I find the current holder of copyright?

Answer:
The published version is plainly still under international copyright, just given the date of the 1970s. I assume that it was from a manuscript. The fact that the manuscript was produced in the 19th century doesn't affect copyright of a published version. So, if you want to reprint this, then the particular publisher of the version you wish to use would be the point of appeal. This would be the case, unless the particular volume you are using lists a particular copyright holder, such as an editor, etc. You should look at the volume carefully to make sure that isn't the case.

The best way to track a publisher is usually through the International ISBN Agency, which publishes a Directory each year. This tells you, one, if a publisher still exists, or, two, if it doesn't, who picked up their copy. Sometimes you need to track a publisher's name back through earlier editions to find a point of absorption.

If, anytime since the 1920s, someone has published this poem, then the same drill given above would still apply, with whomever the publisher might be. But you only need to track down permission for whatever copy you choose to reprint. Naturally, if you were producing a version from the original manuscript, you would need permission from the owner of the manuscript. But that's a whole different matter.

There are some online guides for copyright questions on the Library web site. Stanford University also maintains a quite elaborate web site on copyright and "fair use" issues.

Q&A: Printers, Publishers and Booksellers in Early English Books [ESTC]

Question: I am researching the life and work of Alice Warren, an English printer in London in the 17th Century. When I do an "IMPRINT" search for her name in either the ESTC or Early English Books Online in the Databases, I get no more than about 8 items. I know that this can't be right. Is there somewhere else I can look?

Answer: You need to use the 4th volume of Wing's Short-Title Catalogue, which cross-indexes all the printers and booksellers in Wing, 1641-1700. Checking Alice Warren in that volume, one sees that she was also known as Alice Norton, and indicates that she was probably also responsible for the imprints of the two John Nortons in the list, who were her husband and son, respectively. Also, her listings under Alice Warren, [her second husband was Thomas Warren]are more numerous than the 8 items you already have from ESTC and Early English Books Online. This index also gives the bibliographic citations for the sources of the biographical details included in the listings. There is a parallel volume which indexes the printers and booksellers for Pollard and Redgrave [in Volume 3], covering imprints from 1475 to 1640. None of this information is currently available in either the ESTC or Early English Books Online.

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