18.504 author's rights?

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
Date: Thu, 20 Jan 2005 08:08:21 +0000

               Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 18, No. 504.
       Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                     Submit to: humanist_at_princeton.edu

         Date: Thu, 20 Jan 2005 07:43:11 +0000
         From: Adrian Miles <adrian.miles_at_rmit.edu.au>
         Subject: publishing

Dear List

This is probably a delicate matter, and I imagine I might even be
indiscreet. But here goes anyway.

I am writing an essay that is to be included in an academic anthology. It
is to be published by a North American academic press. I am receiving no
financial recompense for my contribution. However, the contract for
publication arrived this morning and contains:

"Author does hereby grant and assign to [publisher] the entire literary
property and all rights of whatsoever kind in the Contribution, and every
part thereof, in the entire world, and agrees that the copyright may be
taken and held in the name of [publisher]."

It also explicitly says I can never receive anything for my contribution,
but I am allowed to republish it in an anthology that is wholly and only my
own work.

My question come problem:

1. I don't agree nor intend to sign over my copyright for the entire
universe, for all media, forever. Frankly the gall of such a request leaves
me rather speechless.

but being somewhat a junior in these realms:

2. is this par for the course?

3. I would expect a scientist to disagree strongly with such a contract,
and as an online scholar with an awareness of the value of archives I have
no intention of letting some publisher assume that they could happily
repackage my work for whatever other contexts may be appropriate one day
(or next week).

4. this issue isn't money, though frankly if they want copyright in
perpetuity then I would expect a financial incentive. It is simply the
principle that this is my work and I'm happy to grant copyright for this
anthology, possibly including new editions and possible translations, but
that's it.

Any words of wisdom? Tales of woe? Or am I merely naive?

Adrian Miles
Received on Thu Jan 20 2005 - 03:14:41 EST

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