Who Owns Conference Presentations?
Here’s a nice little brouhaha. It seems that the American Political Science Association has appropriated the copyright of papers presented at its annual conference as a condition of presenting. An APSA conference presenter recently found one of her papers for sale on a for-profit site called AllAcademic Inc. and wrote about it in outrage at the blog Crooked Timber. More outrage by others followed in the comments to her post. In response to the comments, the executive director of the APSA wrote in and said the papers were posted to AllAcademic Inc. by mistake and that they would be taken down. He continued to assert copyright, however, and maintained that the papers would be accessible for free in an open access archive. From the point of view of distribution, this seems like a good outcome, except some profs are still miffed at the claim that they have surrendered copyright as a condition of presenting at the conference. Perhaps rightfully so.
Who should own copyright to this work and what should they do with it? I heard Kenneth Crewes speak on copyright recently, and one of the most provocative things he said was that a very good case could be made that the scholarly work that professors do is really work for hire, and therfore their college or university could make a strong claim to owning the copyright. He backed off immediately, saying most university administrators would be crazy to push this, as it would enrage the professoriate, roil the whole system, and in fact make a lot more work for them. And yet, wouldn’t it be interesting…
(Note to self: look into ALA’s policy on conference presentations and go back and read the emails about the copyright of this blog.)