Via Michael Nielsen: Don't Ask, Don't Tell: Rights Retention for Scholarly Articles. My mother, a poet, thinks it very strange when she hears about the system of scientific publishing in which we give away the copyrights for all our papers. In poetry, the authors retain their copyrights, and give permission to publishers to publish their poems; the same is true in fiction writing. The system works without problems: it doesn't prevent publishers from going after people who illicitly copy their works, and it doesn't prevent them from getting exclusive publication rights to the works in question. So what, exactly, do we gain by giving away our copyrights? What we lose is the right to distribute our own works online for free; but as this Harvard Law blog post observes, many of us do that anyway, hoping that the publishers won't demand that we take them down again or sue us for noncompliance with their contracts. And mostly it works, but there's always that risk...
Fortunately, there is a solution: free online journals. The Journal of Graph Algorithms and Applications and the new Journal of Computational Geometry both are free as in free beer (no cost to access the papers, no publication fees) but also free in the sense that authors retain copyright and grant the publisher a license to print the paper. Therefore, I am happy to echo Suresh and Ernie Jeff and announce that JoCG is now open for business and accepting submissions.
One question I had with the new journal was, if it's online-only, how permanent are its archives? If whoever's running the journal gets hit by a bus, what happens to all the old papers? In today's business climate one should wonder about that for commercial journals too, I suppose. JGAA has been handling the issue by collecting its old issues into printed volumes, but as I understand it that arrangement has run into difficulties, so I was curious to hear what JoCG intended. Anyway, the answer is that they're using the Open Journal Systems software and LOCKSS data security model, in which university libraries maintain local copies of open content in order to assure its permanence. So I am greatly reassured on that front.
Therefore, as Samir exhorts us, get those SoCG papers into a journal. And now that we finally have a noncommercial alternative to DCG, CGTA, and IJCGA, let's support it by sending our papers there.
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