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article imageOp-Ed: Who is reselling your work on-line?

By Alexander Baron     Jun 1, 2013 in Internet
Have you written an article that has made a lot of money for someone else? You may have done, but if you have, how will you ever know?
Eleven years ago I set up a small website called Vexatious Litigant. Apart from some purely cosmetic editing, it has been static for years. It was based originally on a freehost, but in 2008 I bought a domain for it. Three years later I decided not to renew the domain because it was receiving so little traffic, and moved it onto a directory on my main website, where it will remain.
Recently I decided to add a few articles to it, so looked around and found one on the Web. I decided that was suitable, so contacted the author, who ignored me. So I decided to download it, but it was published by a subscription only academic journal, and when I proceeded to the download screen, this is what I saw.
I had to pinch myself because I couldn't quite believe what I was reading: "Rent This Article" - can they be serious?
A little research revealed that this kind of scheme or perhaps just this particular one was launched two years ago. At this point I recalled the words of bibliographer Robin Alston:
We are opposed to anything which frustrates knowledge. You can walk into any public library and consult reference books for free, so why should the new technology be different?
He said this view was shared by the overwhelming majority of librarians and academics everywhere. Though not, apparently, by their publishers.
Rented articles are said to be available in a read-only format; even someone with my lowly computing skills knows how to get round that; there are at least two ways I can think of using an IBM compatible, but that is beside the point. It was only then that I recalled seeing one of my own publications offered for sale by an academic website.
I won't go into details except to say this is not an article but a substantial pamphlet. It retailed, and I sold a few copies for, £2.99. It is currently being offered for $35.95, and that with my introduction credited to someone else.
Said publication has also been available on my own website free since 2008, but I am philosophical about this, partly because like Dappa Dred I realise there is nothing I can do about it, although unlike him, I didn't learn the hard way, and partly because every so often I receive a small cheque from the ALCS, which apparently includes royalties from this sort of thing.
I know imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but plagiarism is theft. Heck, theft is theft! And copyright is dead. I've written about this more than once, and about what I consider to be the best, indeed the only workable solution.
It remains to be seen if this will ever be applied, but bear in mind and perhaps take comfort from the fact that it is not unlikely that as you slave away for 30c an hour, someone may truly value your contribution to that every widening pool of human knowledge. The only problem is that the person who will be rewarded for this contribution will almost certainly not be you.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
More about academic journals, Copyright, vexatious litigant