Authors identified

September 29, 2000

Alan Story makes the fair point that the Copyright Licensing Agency system is unable to identify individual journal articles and thus, if appropriate, to route payments to the authors of those articles (Letters, THES, September 15).

However, CLA system developments mean that it will soon be able to identify individual articles for which copyright has been cleared and when the author is contractually entitled to receive a share of the copyright payment, he or she will do so.

Interestingly, most of what is photocopied (and, increasingly, scanned) under the CLA licence is not in fact journal articles, but extracts from books. Identifying individual book chapters, when these are written by different authors, may take longer since there is not yet an international standard for this as there is for journal articles; however, this is being worked on.

Story also raises the separate issue of what happens when a member of staff wants to use an item that he or she has written. Clearly, if the copyright has been assigned to the publisher then the usual procedures have to be followed. However, publishers are increasingly using agreements - for books and journals - that (among other things) leave authors completely free to make copies of their own work for education purposes in their own institution. One difficulty is that this may not be obvious to the person who is responsible for CLARCS clearances, who may therefore apply unnecessarily.

I have a suggestion: publishers who offer such agreements might be persuaded always to indicate on the page, in some standardised way, that an item may be used for educational purposes (a) by its own author, or by an institution that has (b) a print subscription or (c) an electronic licence. I have no idea whether, or indeed how, this could be organised, but I should be very interested to know in principle whether it would be welcomed by users.

Sally Morris


Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers

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