"The usual term of the license is six months, after which the article should be replaced by a link to the definitive version . . ."

Recently we asked the Association of Computing Machinery for permission to republish one of the articles in one of its 36 journals, and the ACM was very gracious, waiving its republication fee because we are a not-for-profit (not to mention free journal).

However, the letter of permission came with the proviso that we had to take the article off our site after six months, and instead, point to the article on ACM's site.

This is a conundrum we never faced on paper! When we republished something on paper, it was ours until the publication ceased to exist. It was not a here-today-gone-tomorrow artifact.

Yet we can understand the ACM's position. They need to ensure that every version of their copyrighted articles is as good as the original. Here at JEP we check every single link on our site once a month and endeavor to change or correct those that are no longer working. As you might expect, the older an article is, the less likely that all the links work. When we can figure out what the link should be, we change the URL. When we can't, we contact the author and ask for an updated link. If neither we nor the author can find any appropriate place to link, we take out the link.

We also try to update authors' e-mail addresses so that they remain current.

In those small ways the article changes over time.

We expect that the ACM does something similar, which is why they want us to point to the canonical version of the article. It certainly makes more sense to do it that way than for them to have to alert us and every other republisher every time they update an article.

But given that license clause, we declined to republish the article. We had two reasons — one good, and one that may perhaps be mired in "old" thinking (I haven't decided):

  • Our search engine allows people to search the text of articles. If the article is no longer on our site, it can't be searched with the JEP search engine.
  • If a reader clicks on an article in our table of contents and is taken to another site rather than the JEP site, not only might that reader be confused, but we will lose our relationship with him or her. We like to think that JEP readers are our readers, and we want to keep them on our site.

The issue is name recognition. ACM wants the article to represent it (and we agree that ACM should get credit for finding the article, nurturing it, and publishing it). We want the article to represent us (and them, too, because they are the copyright owners). Yet we found the article (in their publication) and sought to introduce it to those of our readers who are not subscribers to ACM journals. We attempted to fit it into our editorial mix. We would have reformatted it to look like a JEP article. While we would not be the "birth" publishers of the article, we wanted to be at least "adoptive" publishers. We didn't want to be foster parents.

We may conclude one day that we are being silly, that we are letting our paper-trained brains overcome our hypertextual sensibilities. And if we do, we will apologize for our retro thinking and take advantage of the ACM's generous offer and thoughtful decision, and we will bring you the reprint that you missed in this issue.

But we wish that this new interconnected Internet didn't take such license with the world we knew.

The authors who contributed to this issue of The Journal of Electronic Publishing wisely recognize that the world has changed, and they examine what some of those changes mean.

Declaring Independence: Returning Scientific Publishing to Scientists

Alison Buckholtz has been involved with SPARC's "Declaring Independence" project from the beginning, and in this article she shares with us the reason this library organization researched and published a manifesto for scientists who are tired of rising journal prices — and the reaction to it in the scientific and publishing communities.

The Impact of the Internet on Teaching and Practicing Journalism

Joanne Teoh Khen Yau and Suliman Al-Hawamdeh, who teach journalism in Singapore, look at the influence the Internet has had on print and electronic journalism and the effect those changes have had on the teaching of journalism.

Copyright Endurance and Change

Georgia K. Harper, who is a manager of intellectual property for the University of Texas system, has turned her Copyright Crash Course into a primer on copyright. You'll definitely want to bookmark this article.

The Deep Web: Surfacing Hidden Value

Michael K. Bergman, whose BrightPlanet company offers a new approach to search engines, examines the wealth of information that is available only on dynamically created Web sites, those that don't exist except as relational databases until someone seeks information from them. As more sites adopt the dynamic approach to pages, they are creating a challenge for standard search engines. This article looks at some alternatives.

The More Things Change . . .

Philippa Benson reflects on how this new digital age is really pretty much like previous times — only more so.

Q.A.: How About a Little Privacy?

Contributing editor Thom Lieb notes that in trying to find out enough about their readers to gear their sites to them, Web publishers may be alienating the very people they are trying to reach. While there are no national or international standards of Internet privacy, there are some commonly accepted elements of a privacy policy: notice, choice, security, and access. Publishers concerned about reassuring readers about Internet privacy will find much to think about in this article.


Judith Axler Turner may be reached by e-mail at judith@turner.net.