[open-science] Licence, Ownership and Copyright in scholarly publishing

Peter Murray-Rust pm286 at cam.ac.uk
Wed Dec 14 13:39:48 UTC 2011

On Wed, Dec 14, 2011 at 10:09 AM, Nick Barnes <nb at climatecode.org> wrote:

> On Wed, Dec 14, 2011 at 06:48, Peter Murray-Rust <pm286 at cam.ac.uk> wrote:
> > I have (what I hope is) a clearly formulated question and I'd like
> > authoritative answers. Please don't offer guesses or logical solutions.
> >
> > In a scholarly publication we can, in principle, identify some interested
> > parties:
> > * the author/s of the publication
> > * the owner of the intellectual property
> > * the copyright holder
> > * the licensor
> >
> > I can imagine cases where all four are different, e.g.
> > * me
> > * my employer
> > * someone I have transferred the copyright to
> > * someone who publishes a journal
> >
> > I am particularly interested in who licences the publication as this is
> the
> > legal entity that may challenge someone's use of the material. Is it
> always
> > clear? Where it is clear is it always the publisher?
> What do you mean by "intellectual property".  It's a vague term, best
> avoided.  It is generally taken as an umbrella term for copyrights,
> patents, and trademarks.

Agreed. But it's a term often used by academic employers. They may own the
work but allow others to licence it.

> And, what do you mean by "licensor"?  The copyright-holder often
> issues a license.  That license may convey rights to sub-licensing.

I think in scholarly publishing it is almost always the publisher that
issues a licence (I don't know, that's why I am asking). If the copyright
is not held by the licensor then they are different.

And I can imagine a publisher asking a rights agency to operate a licence
on their behalf.

The point of this is that it can be complex and we may have to know the
answer. In which case the publisher should make this clear.

> --
> Nick Barnes, Climate Code Foundation, http://climatecode.org/

Peter Murray-Rust
Reader in Molecular Informatics
Unilever Centre, Dep. Of Chemistry
University of Cambridge
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