Supplementary memorandum from the Authors'
Licensing And Collecting Society (ALCS)
In our written submission of 12th February 2004
we stated that many of the 6,000 academic authors who mandate
ALCS to collect photocopying monies have expressed concernin
writingabout enforced assignment of their rights. They
resent working for publishers who insist on taking all rights
as a condition of publication, or who insist on an exclusive contract,
the clauses of which have the same result.
We suggested that this forced assignment has
an effect on pricing structures within journals and is widely
regarded as an important global, political and social issue:
"Intellectual property is the oil of the
21st Century." (Source: Mark Getty, The Economist, August
It is also a human rights issue:
"Everyone has the right to the protection
of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific,
literary or artistic production of which he [or she] is the author".
(Source: Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 27).
As a closing statement we submit that we noted
two of the four academics present on the panel on 21 April were,
as they stated, editors for journals run by Reed Elsevier, a company
which has a policy of taking all intellectual property rights
away from academic and scientific authors.
Both these panellists said that assignment was
of no concern to them, contrary to the large numbers of members
we have surveyed. We would like to point out three issues in connection
with their comments:
(a) as tenured professors none of the panellists
was in a position where his career or economic livelihood was
affected by rights ownership;
(b) we believe the panellists' statements
on the non-importance of rights may have been influenced by their
retention by Reed Elsevier;
(c) their comments are not an indication,
therefore, that authors' rights do not matter to the majority
of scientific and academic writers.
Authors' rights matter increasingly, both for
the importance of moral rights in high-level research, and because
monies from secondary rights like photocopying are being paid
only to publishers and at authors' and academics' expense.
In our closing comments, we would therefore
wish to highlight the following:
(1) Authors usually have no redress in the
face of pressure to assign their rights, as their employment\income
may be dependent on publicationand because insistence on
assignment of rights is so widespread.
We would suggest the latter is in contravention of
Article 27 (mentioned above).
(2) Because scientific authors may be less
concerned about personal financial return (due to research and
publication being part of their salaried position or grant money)
they are largely unaware of the substantial secondary rights incomes
With most scientific journals, all photocopying money
goes to the publisher and not necessarily back into the research
This further increases commercial publisher profits
and influenceat the direct expense of individuals or academic
(3) The current dominance of the Scientific
Journals market by an increasingly small and monopolistic group
of global conglomerates (Reed Elsevier et al) has a significant
effect on individuals, on research, and on users. This dominance,
extended through "rights-grabbing" policies, has resulted
in annual price increases at well above inflation and "big
deals" with libraries, reducing both the authors' opportunity
to publish and access by users.
This in turn affects academics' status and job
security and possibly, also, the positioning of their institution
in relation to the UK's Research Assessment Exercise model for
assessment and funding, and its ability to secure other sources
of research funds.
(4) The open access model is seen by many
as freeing and speeding up constraints on access, but it assumes
the availability of research funds for publication to cover author
payment. This could shift further cost onto Government and may
be discriminatory in that it will benefit only those who have
access to substantial research funding. (If extended to the humanities,
the model looks frighteningly like the "vanity publishing"
authors have fought against for years.)
(5) We believe current publisher practices,
as outlined in this document go against the present government's
a) in relation to the Government's Corporate
Social Responsibility Report;
b) in relation to the DTI's practice of encouraging
global electronic trading by individuals (sole traders) as well
Sole traders can only trade in what they lawfully
own, and without their intellectual property rights, individuals
are blank screens in a global market-place.
We therefore re-iterate our initial request
that Government recognises and condemns the pressure on authors
to assign rights and establishes a Rights Ombudsman to whom appeals
may be taken.
In the present environment, an interim solution
(vis a" vis the current interest in open access publishing)
may need to be a mixed economy of both traditional journals publishing
and open access, as advocated in the Washington DC Principles
Additional safeguards which could legitimately
be supplied through government intervention might be:
(a) a requirement that a proportion of commercial
publishing profits from scientific journals are allocated directly
(b) a statement on rights assignment (as
mentioned above) and a Rights Ombudsman to support this;
(c) further JISC/HEFC supported trials of
various open access models to assess fully the financial and medium
to long term archiving and access implications.