[CNI-(C)] Re: Public Access to Science Act (Sabo Bill, H.R. 2613)

Lawrence E. Rosen lrosen at rosenlaw.com
Wed Sep 3 03:06:20 UTC 2003

On Mon, 1 Sep 2003, Stevan Harnad <harnad at ecs.soton.ac.uk> wrote:
> PRIORITY, TEXT-INTEGRITY. I don't fully understand the notion of 
> making one's writing "public domain" instead of retaining copyright, 
> but if that puts either the text's authorship or the text's verbatim 
> integrity at any risk -- i.e., if someone else could then legally 
> reproduce my text without my name as author, or even attaching his own

> name, or could reproduce my text in an altered form, with or without 
> my name -- then it is certain that researchers will not want that! 
> It's one thing to give away access to one's text for free online, for 
> anyone and everyone to read and to use (the *content* of the text, 
> while quoting/citing/attributing any actual *words* used from the text

> itself), and quite another thing to renounce one's right to protect 
> the integrity of one's text, or to be fully credited with its 
> authorship.

Licensing your academic works under a contract is *far* more effective
than making a dedication to the "public domain."  That way you can
define the exact terms and conditions under which you are publishing
those works.  All this and *still* help to create a public commons of
copyrightable works -- if you use the right open source license.

With a contract, you can insist upon your right as the original author
to proper attribution and you can require those who modify your work to
acknowledge that they've changed it.  

We're each of us entitled to care about our "own big ego" if that's
important to us, and I don't agree with the person who suggested that
the demand for proper author attribution contradicts our goal of
"fostering the true spirit of science, to understand the universe."
(Quotations from earlier emails in this thread.)

While honesty and fair dealing often prevail in academic activities
absent a contract, I prefer making my rules explicit.  I've started
publishing some of my articles with the following notices:

    (C) Copyright 2003 <my name>
    Licensed under the Open Software License version 2.0
    ATTRIBUTION NOTICE: Any text I want to include that
      is descriptive of my contribution and the 
      contributions of the people who helped me.  
      I include my email address.

The OSL version 2.0 (www.rosenlaw.com/osl2.0.html) contains the
following provision to protect an author's attribution rights:

   6) Attribution Rights. You must retain, in the Source Code of any
      Derivative Works that You create, all copyright, patent or 
      trademark notices from the Source Code of the Original Work, 
      as well as any notices of licensing and any descriptive text
      identified therein as an "Attribution Notice."  You must cause 
      the Source Code for any Derivative Works that You create to 
      carry a prominent Attribution Notice reasonably calculated 
      to inform recipients that You have modified the Original Work. 

Don't be confused by the words "Source Code."  According to the OSL,
that's merely the "preferred form of the Original Work for making
modifications to it and all available documentation describing how to
modify the Original Work."  In the case of a published article,
contribution to a scientific or technical journal, or other publication,
the Source Code is the word processing document, the music score, the
graphic image, or even the email to which the original work is attached.
The OSL can be used for much more than just software.  It can prevent
licensees from removing the author's signature from a photograph, a
song, a novel or any other written work.

The OSL sets attribution rules that are helpful to the authors of
original works but are not unduly painful to those who distribute copies
or create derivative works.  That's the balance that was previously
crafted in the Artistic License
(http://opensource.org/licenses/artistic-license.php) and its progeny on
the OSI-approved license list.  I incorporated the attribution rights
clause into the OSL because those who contribute to the public their
free software -- or other "artistic" works in source-code form -- often
insist upon it.

/Larry Rosen
General counsel, Open Source Initiative

P.S. In true open source fashion, nothing in the OSL, including its
attribution rights clause, interferes with the fair use rights of the
public to any work so licensed.  Just like the public domain, only more

(C) Copyright 2003 Lawrence E. Rosen
Licensed under the Open Software License version 2.0
(www.rosenlaw.com/osl2.0.html) ATTRIBUTION NOTICE: 
Originally published on CNI-COPYRIGHT at cni.org and cross-posted to 
license-discuss at opensource.org.
Email: lrosen at rosenlaw.com

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