Crown Copyright-Joint Ownership & Moral Rights

Advice for those new to the concepts of copyright
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Crown Copyright-Joint Ownership & Moral Rights

Post by philipjames »

I am groping with the issue of Crown Copyright and how it impacts the ability of Canadian researchers working within government labs to collaborate with authors who are not working for the crown such as university professors. The following represent some of the main issues:

1. The creation of joint ownership. On one hand the Crown will not assign its copyright and on the other hand the publisher will insist a copyright assignment from the other author(s) leaving the publisher and the crown co-owners. Their is little literature or guidance regarding joint ownership where the Crown is one of the owners. Some government departments have allowed for joint ownership despite the apparent restrictions it entails.

2. To avoid joint ownership all non-Crown co-authors are required by some government departments to assign their copyright to the Crown who then provides the publisher with a Licence/Premission to publish using the government's standard form.

2.a My limited experience has led me to believe that most major publishers do not accept forms other than their own and some don't even provide for a Crown copyright/Commonwealth clause allowing for a non-exclusive license to publish. This has led some authors to bypass government policy and sign either the Crown non-exclusive licence clause or worse the assignment clause. Oddly many publishers are accepting this situation eventhough the Crown could prosecute them for copyright infringement since it is common knowledge that the Crown does not assign ist copyright

2.b Some government authors who are not major contributors have indicated that they find it embarrassing if not pretentious to ask the lead author to assign his/her copyright to their organization.

3. Finally lawyers for some of the government departments are requesting that all co-authors who are not employed by the Crown waive their moral rights along with their copyright assignment leaving the perception that the government is playing hard ball with those who wish to collaborate with it.

I would like to validate a few of these points with experience you may have had. My main questions are:

Are there government research organizations within the Commonwealth nations that have succeeded in getting publishers who insist on their standard forms or who do not accept the Commonwealth clause such as the Chicago Press to accept their standard non exclusive licence to publish forms?

Has anyone researched the impact of joint ownership from a government research organization's point of view where publishing in scientific journals etc is expected of their researchers?

Waiver of Moral Rights is not seen as important from a publishers point of view since few require it. Why are legal counsels of government organizations advising that these waivers be obtained to protect against the possibility that authors suing the government when the latter has less exposure than publishers?

Any comments would be most appreciated.


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