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Nature Publisher Requires Authors To Waive "Moral Rights" To Works 82

Posted by timothy
from the your-aesthetic-and-gustatory-rights-are-next dept.
cranky_chemist (1592441) writes "Megan O'Neil has published a story on the Chronicle of Higher Education's website noting some unusual language in the license agreement between authors and Nature Publishing Group. 'Faculty authors who contract to write for the publisher of Nature, Scientific American, and many other journals should know that they could be signing away more than just the economic rights to their work, according to the director of the Office of Copyright and Scholarly Communication at Duke University. Kevin Smith, the Duke official, said he stumbled across a clause in the Nature Publishing Group's license agreement last week that states that authors waive or agree not to assert "any and all moral rights they may now or in the future hold" related to their work. In the context of scholarly publishing, "moral rights" include the right of the author always to have his or her name associated with the work and the right to have the integrity of the work protected such that it is not changed in a way that could result in reputational harm.'

Nature Publishing Group claims the waivers are required to ensure the journal's ability to publish formal retractions and/or corrections. However, the story further notes that Nature Publishing Group is requiring authors at institutions with open-access policies to sign waivers that exempt their work from such policies."
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Nature Publisher Requires Authors To Waive "Moral Rights" To Works

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  • by ackthpt (218170) on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @09:26AM (#46629643) Homepage Journal

    as I still maintain immoral rights.

  • 2014/04/01 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rossdee (243626) on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @09:33AM (#46629697)

    Yeah yeah April Fools...

    • I was kinda hoping for the pink OMG, PONIES!

    • by Anonymous Coward

      And this one is terrible even by April fools standards.

    • It's A, she's turning the voice back on us -- outside of the stream!!. The end is nigh!!

      b+down+start9

    • 2014 divided by 4 divided by 1 equals 503.5

      If you're going to write dates in the ISO format, you might as well write them properly: 2014-04-01

    • This isn't sufficiently implausible for me to discount it actually happening, which I would call a failure of april fooling.

      Satire falls down when the thing can totally plausibly happen.

      • I read about this elsewhere several days ago, so I'm leaning towards it being real (or at least not a 4/1 prank)

        You know, I'm starting to really hate April 1st online. Pranking your friends and associates is funny, but complete strangers online whose reaction you don't even get to see? What's the point? All it does is spread even more misinformation than usual. On that note I think I'll log off and see you all tomorrow - nothing online can be trusted today anyway.

  • How bad it could be not writing for Nature or SciAm until they change their policy to something more moral?
    • I'm sorry, you're out of character, pmontra, and we now have to usurp you. Please wait in the queue on your left to be assimilated. You signed away the rights, and we saw you there, in the restroom, tapping your foot. Now your works are ours.

    • by Trepidity (597)

      Not with quite the same profile, though. For just the "academic game" part there are indeed plenty of alternatives, journals with high impact factors and other such metrics, well-respected within a field. What Nature and Science mainly have going for them is a bunch of media and science-popularizer attention as well, which is useful for people who want to build up a high profile for themselves. If you get your paper on evolutionary robotics into a robotics journal, you can get prestige, but if you get it in

    • This sounds like a bit of much ado about nothing. US law, as I understand it, doesn't really provide for "moral rights" to a work. That's more of a European way of thinking. This is more of a boilerplate, if we publish this, don't sue us ever kind of thing. Moral rights to a work are idiotic anyway. In the European way of things, there's a period of time where you're not allowed to offend the work (like, say, making a porn version of Star Wars) after the main copyright period ends. The US workaround f

      • by Immerman (2627577) on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @12:58PM (#46631497)

        Actually moral rights [wikipedia.org] are concerned with primarily three things, the first two of which are *very* relevant to academia, and the last of which is particularly important politically:
        Attribution - no stripping of the author's credit, and
        Integrity - no rewriting the article and leaving the original authors name on it
        Anonymity - the right to publish a work anonymously or pseudonymously

  • by Rob Riggs (6418) on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @09:45AM (#46629799) Homepage Journal
    You want that tenured position? Suck it up.
    • hey Rob, are you being sarcastic?

      I tend to think you are, because the attitude of "just suck it up" in the face of corruption and mismanagement...or just bad business...it's ruining our industry.

      We absolutely should not "Suck it up"...I think you'd agree but I'm wondering...

  • How about for once we get some posts on time & edited well, wouldn't that be hilarious!

  • by davide marney (231845) <davide.marney@ne ... g minus math_god> on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @09:46AM (#46629811) Journal

    From http://blogs.nature.com/ofsche... [nature.com]

    "...NPG’s commitment to open access has been questioned, following our request that authors provide a formal waiver of Duke University’s open access policy. NPG is supportive of open access. We encourage self-archiving, and have done so since we implemented our policy in 2005:

    'When a manuscript is accepted for publication in an NPG journal, authors are encouraged to submit the author’s version of the accepted paper (the unedited manuscript) to PubMedCentral or other appropriate funding body’s archive, for public release six months after publication. In addition, authors are encouraged to archive this version of the manuscript in their institution’s repositories and, if they wish, on their personal websites, also six months after the original publication. ' ...
    We are requesting waivers from Duke University authors, because of the grant of rights asserted in its open access policy: 'In legal terms, each Faculty member grants to Duke University a non-exclusive, irrevocable, royalty-free, worldwide license to exercise any and all rights under copyright relating to each of his or her scholarly articles, in any medium, and to authorize others to do so, provided that the articles are not sold. The Duke faculty author remains the copyright owner unless that author chooses to transfer the copyright to a publisher.'

    If we do not request a waiver, the general language of this policy means that Duke University has the rights not only to archive the manuscript in Dukespace, but also to distribute and publish to the world at large the final version of a subscription article freely, in any medium, immediately on publication. We started requesting waivers recently, following an enquiry from a Duke University author." [emphasis added]

    Since the issue seems to be about publishing in the open immediately vs. waiting 6 months, asking for a waiver of all moral rights seems like using a cannon to swat a fly.

    • Since the issue seems to be about publishing in the open immediately vs. waiting 6 months, asking for a waiver of all moral rights seems like using a cannon to swat a fly.

      I believe that the waiver of open access and the waiver of moral rights are actually separate clauses within the NPG contract, separately obnoxious and objectionable in their own independent ways.

      • by geekoid (135745)

        waving of moral rights is needed to maintain journalistic integrity.
        It sounds bad, but it isn't. It's how you combat people playing games with articles and data in order to give weight to a politcal or theological opinion.

        And, yes 6 moth waiting period. Since the moral rights have been removed, its not a biog deal.

        • waving of moral rights is needed to maintain journalistic integrity. It sounds bad, but it isn't. It's how you combat people playing games with articles and data in order to give weight to a politcal or theological opinion.

          I can't help but interpret your comment to mean that you don't quite understand what moral rights are, nor how they might apply in this context. Among other things, 'moral rights' include the right of a creator to attribution (that is, to be credited as an author when their work is published), and the right of a creator not to have their published work distorted, mutilated, or otherwise substantially modified without their permission. Waiving all moral rights means that a journal is free to modify the te

    • Duke is a GOP-run money machine....going back 100+ years....Duke Energy has the monopoly in the region....Duke family made their money in slave-labor tobacco farming originally

      It touches *every part of their organization*

      Look at Duke's basketball team...

      It's all about **Duke** getting more money.

  • by XxtraLarGe (551297) on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @09:47AM (#46629821) Journal
    also waive their moral responsibilities?
  • A bit of contract law that would:
    1) Mark these rights as unwaivable
    2) Mark as unenforcable or nonactionable any part of any contract that would bar or establish consequences for asserting these rights

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Yeah, yeah, and I bet when you find a bug in the GIMP you file a change request in the kernel to work around it.

  • Illegality? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @09:58AM (#46629893)
    What about contributors from countries where waiving moral rights is prohibited by law?
    • What about contributors from countries where waiving moral rights is prohibited by law?

      For example, in Germany it isn't illegal, but it's void. I can waive these rights as much as I like, sell them to you, whatever, it makes no difference. The right to say "I wrote this" just cannot be transferred to anyone else.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    This highlights a key difference between IP laws in the US and in Europe: in the US, the law only recognizes economic rights, while in (continental) Europe, the law explicitly defines what moral and economic (aka. "patrimonial") rights are, and especially, it considers moral rights as a basic /human right/: such rights are inalienable, and thus, waiving moral rights is not possible under EU law.

    Perhaps some people in Nature Publishing Group think that this kind of pseudo agreement will make their life easi

  • America's been the brunt of an epic April Fools prank for the last 15 years or so.. A prank that is not the least bit funny..And its gotten a LOT worse in the last five years.. I, for one, am NOT laughing nor pleased....

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Why is there autoplay bullshit on this story?

  • by hubie (108345) on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @12:53PM (#46631465)
    Kevin, I’m posting this as a comment here to provide clarity for all, given the interest this has generated. I’ve also written to you to suggest a conversation. I am sorry that we didn’t talk with you before we started requesting waivers from authors at Duke University, that would have been better all round. You raise two concerns: about our requesting that authors provide formal waivers of Duke University open access policy; and the ‘moral rights’ statement in our license to publish. I’ll start with the second. We take seriously our responsibility for the integrity of the scientific record. The “moral rights” language included in the license to publish is there to ensure that the journal and its publisher are free to publish formal corrections or retractions of articles where the integrity of the scientific record may be compromised by the disagreement of authors. This is not our preferred approach to dealing with corrections and retractions, and we work with authors and institutions to seek consensus first. We always attribute articles to authors, we have clear contribution policies. See: http://www.nature.com/nature/j... [nature.com] and http://www.nature.com/authors/... [nature.com] We believe researchers should be credited for their work, and as a founding member of ORCID, we have implemented ORCID integration on nature.com to foster disambiguated accreditation. We are requesting waivers from Duke University authors, because of the wide grant of rights as per your open access policy. If we do not request a waiver, Duke University has the rights not only to archive in Dukespace, but to publish and distribute the final version of a subscription article freely to the world at large, in any medium, immediately on publication. We started requesting waivers recently, following an enquiry from a Duke University author. NPG is supportive of open access. We have no problem with you archiving accepted manuscripts in DukeSpace, for public access six months after publication. We encourage self-archiving, and have done so since we implemented our policy in 2005: http://www.nature.com/authors/... [nature.com] This is in addition to open access publication options available on many journals we publish. We are happy to try to answer further questions, and would welcome a discussion with you. We have worked constructively with PubMed Central and institutional repositories for many years, and do not want our intentions and commitment to academic integrity and open access to be misunderstood. Grace Baynes Head of Communications, Nature Publishing Group
    • by mdmkolbe (944892)

      The “moral rights” language ... is there to ensure that the journal and its publisher are free to publish formal corrections or retractions of articles

      In that case, the language should limit the waiver of moral rights to such cases. Something along the lines of "The Author grants NPG permission to publish corrections to or retractions of the Work". See, no broad waver of moral rights necessary.

    • by hubie (108345)
      Sorry all, I copy/pasted this in haste. I should have blockquoted it and I should have mentioned that this was the reply posted on the Duke U. blog (just so it is obvious these aren't my comments and where it came from).
  • by Tom (822) on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @01:19PM (#46631681) Homepage Journal

    This is why in many countries the law says you cannot give up, sell or otherwise lose certain rights. Even if you signed a contract saying you're giving it away, the law trumps the contract and it's still yours, so you can't be pressured into doing it (well you can, but it's meaningless).

  • CC0 [creativecommons.org]:

    sing CC0, you can waive all copyrights and related or neighboring rights that you have over your work, such as your moral rights (to the extent waivable), your publicity or privacy rights, rights you have protecting against unfair competition, and database rights and rights protecting the extraction, dissemination and reuse of data.

    If you want to quote mine and manipulate my CC0 works and misrepresent me as saying something I didn't mean, then go right ahead. The Internet may bite bullshit hard at fir

    • In absence of all freedom there is no restriction of action.

      Meant: In absence of all freedom there is only restriction of action.
      and conversely: In absence of all restriction there is freedom of action.

  • It's been months since I've read commented on a /. post. I picked a bad day to come back to look at /. I don't know what's real or fake any more. I have no idea (nor do I really care) what a 'moral right' is. Should I be outraged for being fooled by an April Fool's joke or outraged at Nature?
    • by Pfhorrest (545131)

      "Moral rights" in this context are a badly-named subset of authors' rights, juxtaposed against "economic rights" which are the more familiar copyright laws we know here in America. Blame the French for the confusing terminology.

Take care of the luxuries and the necessities will take care of themselves. -- Lazarus Long

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