Notes on Thoughtfulness in Scholarly Publishing (3): In This, I Support Elsevier
[Updated] This series began in the wake of an instance in which I, to the irritation of most observers, questioned a case of self-piracy. Soon thereafter, self-piracy was a big deal among publishing scholars for a higher education news cycle or two. I have stated my views previously and do not need to belabor them again here. I was busy with other things and thankfully Alex Golub and the Library Loon [and Barbara Fister] have each done a better job of writing about it [=Elsevier going after its agreement breaking authors] this time that I could ever do. Please read them.
Don’t blame Elsevier for exercising the rights you gave them by Alex Golub on Savage Minds.
Pig-ignorant entitlement and its uses by The Library Loon on Gavia Libraria
[When You Give Your Copyright Away by Barbara Fister in Inside Higher Education]
While I am a Elsevier boycott participant and cannot ever imagine publishing with them, I 100% support the rights of Elsevier and other publishers to fully and legally exercise the copyright that they legally hold and to protect their property from illegal misuse by third party firms and from their author agreement-disregarding authors who mistakenly believe that because their name is on the byline of an article that they can do whatever they wish with value-added property that, despite their authorship, they do not own. Self-piracy is wrong and it is not helping build a better scholarly communication system. Instead, it further confuses the already confused into believing that [pseudo] open access is easy and it leads to painful ironies such as scholarly society leaders setting publishing policies that they do not understand and that they, even as they make them, are out of compliance with. No open access advocate should be out of compliance with their own author agreements. (This is true all the more for those who are actively doubtful about open access.) If a scholarly author wants to share their work freely online, there are many legal (and preservation-minded, and discovery-minded) ways to do this. Breaking contracts that one has already entered into so as to steal articles which one then hands off to a for-profit website (here today, gone when?) is not the way to do it.
Unfortunately, doing things the way we should do them is presently harder than doing things the way we want to do them. Reading and understanding (and knowing how to legally modify) author agreements is part of the hard work that thoughtful authors are obligated to pursue.