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AMIA-L  January 2006

AMIA-L January 2006

Subject:

Re: Copyright of material generated for AMIA committees

From:

"Grace J. Agnew" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

[log in to unmask]

Date:

Mon, 23 Jan 2006 11:59:17 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (226 lines)

For group efforts,where there is no predominant author, the law is a lot 
less clear, and the group or committee could probably legitimately  
claim copyright.  I am thinking more of individual white papers, etc., 
like the one that sparked the discussion initially.  I am not at all 
suggesting that AMIA go into the commercial publishing business. I am 
pointing out that copyright resides with the creator, and when the 
creator can be clearly identified, he or she would have to cede 
copyright in a license to AMIA for AMIA to claim copyright.  What I am 
saying is that AMIA can make it a condition of distibution that the 
copyright owner needs to make the resource freely available via the AMIA 
website, and the Creative Commons license is a good way to do so.  If 
the copyright owner changes his or her mind, then AMIA pulls the 
resource down. As long as the creator agrees to the Creative Commons 
license, the resource is freely available, and AMIA has no legal issues 
or concerns to worry about.    Creative Commons licenses are intended 
for open distribution, not to make money via an anthology.  All I was 
suggesting is that AMIA be aware that resources created by one or a few 
named individuals are owned by those creators and that AMIA cannot claim 
copyright or obtain copyright without a legal transfer of copyright from 
the owners.  All rights obtain to the creator(s), so the creator(s) have 
to agree to use the Creative Commons license, as the condition of the 
distribution of their resources via the AMIA website.  What AMIA cannot 
do is claim copyright for a resource where there are named authors.  
AMIA has no legal right do to so, and the fact that AMIA is a nonprofit 
organization is meaningless in this context.

I think this is largely a nonissue.  Most folks want wide distribution 
for their writing and are happy to make their information freely 
available with attribution.  The copyright resides with them, so if they 
want to put a copyright symbol with their name on the page, so what, as 
long as it is accompanied by a creative commons license or statement 
that the copyright owner makes the material freely available for 
nonprofit use with attribution.  If someone wrote a paper and wants to 
use the AMIA website to make it available for a fee or for a select few 
via password, you can turn them down. However, I don't believe you can 
legally post a white paper by a single or a few named authors and 
copyright it to AMIA unless you have a legal transfer of copyright from 
the authors to AMIA.  This is a lot of work, but without the legal 
transfer, it is not defensible to simply call AMIA the copyright 
holder.  This is a lot of legal wffort, and why even go there?

That's all I am saying.  Commercial publication for profit doesn't come 
into it at all.  What you do need to be aware of is that there are a lot 
of rights beyond reproduction and use that are part of copyright and a 
legal transfer of copyright would need to make clear what rights (such 
as right of translation, right to create derivative works) remain with 
the creator and which rights are transferred to AMIA. 

Grace

E. Summer wrote:

> The problem with this approach is that numerous documents presented by 
> AMIA Committees and Interest Groups are -- as is obvious from their 
> origin - group efforts.
>
> That is to say, many different people (underscore MANY) contribute 
> portions of the document which is ultimately destined to be a public 
> service document.
>
> For example, I contributed along with about half a dozen other people 
> to a resolution which will lead to a press release.  The final 
> document represents the thoughts and specific "sentences" of many 
> sentient and dedicated folks.  It could be argued that one person 
> compiled them and contributed the most, but that would fly in the face 
> of the intention of the group which was public education and good will.
>
> What seems more appropriate is an advance agreement on the part of the 
> membership about such contributions.
>
> If AMIA goes into the "publishing" business and wants to distribute 
> anthologies of work that will turn a "profit" for the organization's 
> treasury, something more like what Grace is talking about would be 
> appropriate, I believe.
>
> At the risk of and not meaning to sound facetious, whatever happened 
> to volunteerism and charity?  Every discussion about rights sounds 
> like it scripted by the world's greatest Ebenezer Scrooge of 
> Attorneys!  Everyone is so fearful of either being cheated or being 
> sued, that it lends nothing but paralysis to such endeavors.
>
> Truly... how much money can anyone actually make from a two page 
> educational document?  Why all this fuss?
>
> At 10:27 AM 1/23/06, Grace J. Agnew wrote:
>
>> Unless a contract is signed in which the person cedes one or more 
>> copyright rights to AMIA, or the person in question is in the active 
>> employ of AMIA, neither international nor national legislation is on 
>> your side here.  Copyright treaty and law make it clear that 
>> copyright resides with the creator, except in explicitly stated 
>> circumstances.
>> The non-profit status of the publisher is largely immaterial to 
>> copyright law, and particularly immaterial to claiming rights, 
>> although it has been used in some cases as a mitigating circumstance 
>> to copyright infringement.
>>
>> AMIA needs to either develop a legal license, which potential authors 
>> would need to sign in advance, explicitly transferring copyright, or 
>> AMIA can take the stance that it is a publisher/distributor but 
>> acknowledge that copyright resides with the creator and ask the 
>> creator to support the open licensing of the resource for use by 
>> others, with attribution.  AMIA can state that if the creator changes 
>> the license to something that does not promote open access, AMIA will 
>> remove the resource.  This is a legally safer approach.  AMIA 
>> wouldn't be considered the creator under copyright law unless it 
>> hires the creators and makes clear that documents produced by the 
>> creators are works for hire, as a condition of employment.  I think 
>> acknowledging the author as the copyright owner and making it a 
>> condition of *distribution* that the copyright owner must agree to a 
>> Creative Commons license is much less murky and much more defensible, 
>> legally.  The copyright owner has lots of important rights, such as 
>> the ability to re-use substantial portions of the work in future 
>> works (a form of "double dipping" that I frankly do all the time!), 
>> to authorize translations of the work (one of my white papers was 
>> translated into Polish), etc.  I publish papers on websites free of 
>> charge all the time, but I wouldn't give up copyright, because then 
>> I'd have to get permission to re-use my own writing or to let others, 
>> like the folks in Poland, re-use my work.
>>
>> By claiming copyright, AMIA not only gets into shaky legal territory 
>> but might also hinder the widespread use of the work, rather than 
>> promote it.  I think taking the stance of a distributor and requiring 
>> use of appropriate Creative Commons licenses by the creators as a 
>> condition of distribution is much clearner both ethically and 
>> legally, than trying to claim all the copyrights associated with a work.
>>
>> Grace Agnew
>>
>>
>> David Pierce wrote:
>>
>>> I expect that other non-profit organizations in operation for longer
>>> than AMIA, such as SMPTE (established in 1916) have established
>>> policies of authorship and ownership for works created in support of
>>> organization projects.
>>>
>>> If this turns out to be an issue, then the first step should be a 
>>> survey
>>> of the policies of comparable non-profit membership associations.
>>>
>>> David Pierce
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> On 1/22/06, Elias Savada <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>>>
>>>
>>>> Was this intentional or not? Perhaps the group/committee member did
>>>> not realize what he/she was doing by (I assume) affixing a copyright
>>>> notice on the document in his/her name? If unintended, just removing
>>>> the notice in favor of none or one that perhaps should be generalized
>>>> for all AMIA public documents (probably "(c) AMIA" followed by the 
>>>> year
>>>> of publication). On the surface, if the member in question truly
>>>> intended to control copyright and distribution, this bodes poorly for
>>>> the collective good of the organization. I'd like more details on the
>>>> situation before expressing any additional comments.
>>>>
>>>> Eli Savada
>>>> Bethesda MD
>>>>
>>>> On Jan 22, 2006, at 5:01 PM, E. Summer wrote:
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>> An issue has been raised where a member of a standing AMIA interest
>>>>> group/committee claimed copyright ownership of a draft of a
>>>>> document generated for public dispersal as an official document of
>>>>> AMIA.
>>>>>
>>>>> It is my understanding that AMIA is a public organization and that
>>>>> the product of my or anyone else's contributions to this
>>>>> organization is for the benefit of the public. The idea of "private
>>>>> ownership" or "copyright" of an e-mail or suggestions for some
>>>>> project that benefits the public is not in keeping with those goals.
>>>>>
>>>>> This issue is, I believe, crucial to the progress and survival of
>>>>> AMIA and ought to be aired and discussed publicly by the entire
>>>>> membership of the organization.
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>> Edward Summer
>>>>> Planetarium Station
>>>>> POB 502
>>>>> NY, NY 10024-0502
>>>>>
>>
>> -- 
>>
>> ____________________________________________________________
>>
>> Grace Agnew
>> Associate University Librarian for Digital Library Systems
>> Rutgers University Libraries
>> 47 Davidson Road Piscataway, NJ 08854
>> 732/445-5908
>> [log in to unmask]
>>
>> /Better research, better papers, better grades! Try Searchpath 
>> <http://searchpath.libraries.rutgers.edu>, our new online information 
>> literacy tutorial./
>> http://searchpath.libraries.rutgers.edu
>
>
> Edward Summer
> Planetarium Station
> POB 502
> NY, NY 10024-0502


-- 

____________________________________________________________

Grace Agnew
Associate University Librarian for Digital Library Systems
Rutgers University Libraries
47 Davidson Road Piscataway, NJ 08854
732/445-5908
[log in to unmask]

/Better research, better papers, better grades! Try Searchpath 
<http://searchpath.libraries.rutgers.edu>, our new online information 
literacy tutorial./
http://searchpath.libraries.rutgers.edu

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