Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Maybe it's just me, but every time I publish an article in a student-edited law journal (for our non-U.S. readers, student-edited law journals are the norm in the U.S.), I find myself editing the publication contract before it even comes close to something I can sign. As a legal writing professor, I naturally want to put it in plain English. I also change the content of the ridiculous indeminity clauses, which often would make me liable for things entirely outside my control or responsibility. And then there's the matter of copyright, a topic I also teach occasionally. Sometimes student editors actually seem surprised that I don't want to sign away my entire copyright forever, but I stand my ground.
Now Ben Keele at Indiana-Bloomington has studied these copyright provisions. His new article is: "Examining Law Journal Publication Agreements for Copyright Transfers and Self-Archiving Rights". And here's his description of his study:
"This study examines 78 law journal publication agreements and finds that a minority of journals ask authors to transfer copyright. Most journals also permit author to self-archive articles with some conditions. The study recommends journals make their agreements publicly available and use licenses instead of copyright transfers."