Robert J. Sawyer

Hugo and Nebula Award-Winning Science Fiction Writer

Those darn academic publishers!

by Rob - June 18th, 2007.
Filed under: Uncategorized.

So, I’m asked — nay, begged — to contribute something to an academic collection about science fiction, and I offer up a really fine essay, if I do say so myself. Of course, there’s no payment for use, even though they intend to sell the book at a high price. And here’s the license they want for the work:

Each contributor retains the copyright to their contribution to the manuscript and may use it without permission for any purpose except publishing or selling the work. If you need to publish your contribution as part of a different publication, you may do so, granted that you obtain permission from us; we do not normally charge for any such permissions. We will hold the publishing rights.

So, um, exactly what value is retainig the copyright if I don’t have the right to publish or sell the work without their permission? And, gee, thanks, on letting me use it for any other purpose — but what, pray tell, might one do with an essay besides publish it or sell it?

Still, at least they’re not out-and-out demanding a transfer of copyright. I’ve countered by offering the editor this: “You, and your publisher, may have an unlimited, in-perpetuity, non-exclusive, worldwide license to publish my essay in all languages in conjunction with your book.” But the last time I dealt with one of these academic publishers they said that wasn’t good enough, and so I dropped out. We’ll see what happens this time …

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

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