APS allows authors to post derivative works to wikis

Gene D. Sprouse, APS now leaves copyright with authors for derivative works, Reviews of Modern Physics, October 1, 2008.  An editorial.  Excerpt:

When you submit an article to an APS [American Physical Society] journal, we ask you to sign our copyright form. It transfers copyright for the article to APS, but keeps certain rights for you, the author. We have recently changed the form to add the right to make ‘‘derivative works’’ that reuse parts of the article in a new work. The importance of this change is discussed below….

[T]he APS has been very generous, by the standards of journal publishers, in giving rights to its authors to use their articles as they wish. The APS has allowed authors the right to publish the APS-prepared, ?nal, and de?nitive version of the article on their web site or on the authors’ institution’s web site, immediately upon publication. The author’s ?nal version could also be put onto e-print servers such as the arXiv. Authors and their institutions could make copies of their articles for classroom use, and others could copy the article for noncommercial use. As authors expect additional rights of use, we will consider adding them.

Recently, some of our authors have asked for a new set of rights in regard to the reuse of material from an article in a new work. If substantial material from the original article appears in the new one, the new article is a ‘‘derivative work.’’ Under the ‘‘fair use’’ provisions of copyright law, most scienti?c, technical, and medical publishers allow reuse in other publications of up to 3 ?gures and 800 words of text from an article, without permission from the publisher, but with proper attribution. APS has been at least this generous for noncommercial reuse. Most of our authors reuse ?gures and equations from their articles in conference proceedings and in lectures posted on the web, and we encourage these forms of communication. However, a problem has arisen when our authors write articles for web resources such as Quantiki or Wikipedia. For understandable concerns of their own, these sites are very strict about permissions and require that authors hold copyright to material that they post. When authors write new material for the broader audience that use these sites but make substantial use of equations and ?gures from their articles, they put themselves in danger of creating a ‘‘derivative work’’ to which they cannot hold rights under the system we have had in place.

We have thus changed our copyright agreement to correct this situation. In the new agreement, copyright rests with the author for derivative works that contain at least 10% new material and not more than 50% of their article that is published in an APS journal. We believe that this will allow authors suf?cient freedom to reuse material from their articles in APS journals when writing for a new audience, while protecting the APS from wholesale copying of our content. We recommend that if authors wish to post a complete article from an APS journal, they instead provide a link to our site, or to a free copy of the article on their personal web sites….

The new copyright form is available [here].

Comment.  For detail on the APS author requests for additional rights, and their desire to repost chunks of their APS articles on wikis, see my post from March 2008.  The author requests were very reasonable and I commend APS for acceding to them.