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Rockefeller University Press allows authors to retain copyright to their published work

Citing the growing demand from the public and the scientific community for access to research data, The Rockefeller University Press has revised its copyright policy to allow authors to retain the rights to work published in its three journals. The policy, which became effective May 1, applies to all three Rockefeller University Press journals: The Journal of Cell Biology, The Journal of Experimental Medicine and The Journal of General Physiology.

The new policy allows authors to reuse their published work in any way and provides for third-party reuse under the terms of a Creative Commons license, say Mike Rossner, executive director of the press, and Emma Hill, executive editor of The Journal of Cell Biology. Hill and Rossner lay out the terms of the new policy in an editorial published in the May issues of all three journals.

Under the terms of the policy, authors may reuse their published work for any purpose, including commercial profit, as long as each use includes attribution to the original publication. Third parties can reuse and redistribute work published in Rockefeller University Press journals, without permission, for any noncommercial purpose, with the same requirement for attribution that applies to authors.

The new policy breaks with common practice among scientific publishers, the vast majority of which require authors to relinquish copyright to the publisher in full as a condition of publication. The press, which now retains licenses from its authors instead of copyright, made its first move toward policy reversal in July 2000, when it gave authors the right to post their articles on their own Web sites immediately after publication. Since January, 2001, the press has released all of its content to the public six months after publication, but permission was still required for any reuse beyond self-archiving.

Our copyright and public-access policies simply acknowledge who did the work and who paid for it to be done, says Rossner. Clearly, the peer-review and publication processes add value to the work, but, in our opinion, that does not give the publisher an exclusive right to it.

The terms of the new policy stipulate additional provisions designed to achieve a balance between granting wide access to content and preserving revenue for the press. The press prohibits the creation of mirror Web sites within the first six months after publication, in order to retain essential revenue derived from journal subscriptions. After six months, articles are open to reuse under an Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License from Creative Commons, a nonprofit organization that offers tools for the creation of some rights reserved copyrights. The press retains purview along with authors over commercial reuse.

The new policy, which was drafted with the assistance of the universitys Office of General Counsel, also applies retroactively. Authors who assigned copyright for past work to The Rockefeller University Press are now granted the right to use the work in any way. All work published prior to November 1, 2007 is subject to the Creative Commons license, and all work published since then is subject to the six-month restriction on mirror sites.


Contact: Joseph Bonner
Rockefeller University

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