Science Commons Counsel Thinh Nguyen has posted a response to a recently released statement by STM (the trade association for scientific, technology and medical publishers) on author addenda. This is an issue near and dear to our hearts, due to our Scholar’s Copyright work. Here’s an excerpt:
“[…] [STM] recently released a statement this March called “Statement on journal publishing agreements and copyright agreement ‘addenda.'” It dismisses concerns of scholars, scientists, and universities that publisher copyright agreements leave authors without sufficient rights to share or re-use their own articles as “rhetorical.” The statement suggested that “standard journal agreements” already allow authors to retain rights that various copyright addenda, like the ones offered by Science Commons, SPARC, MIT, and others, were designed to address. Thus, they seem to suggest, the addenda are superfluous at best.
However, despite their insistence that “most” journal publication agreements “typically” allow authors to retain some combination of rights, the reality is that there is no “standard” publication agreement. […]
[…] Copyright addenda are needed because most authors don’t have a lawyer, much less a whole legal department or law firm (as most publishers have) to parse the legal language of publication agreements for them. They also don’t have the time to search through journal Web sites for hard-to-find policies and to stay up to date with journal policy changes. By attaching a standard addendum, scholars can ensure that they retain those rights that they expect to have without having to be a lawyer themselves. With more private and public funders mandating open access, scholars need now more than ever greater clarity and transparency.”