Beyond the paywall

This morning I have put a pdf copy of my latest publication up on my website, and it should also soon be available through the University of Wollongong’s Research Online digital repository. These facts don’t seem very remarkable, except that this week I’ve had to assert my rights to be able to do so.

The original contributor agreement I signed for this publication fitted with my desire for my research to be available to as many people as possible – not held prisoner behind a paywall or buried in an unafforable hardcopy volume. Turns out, the book is an unafforable hardcopy volume, published by Routledge – but at least I would be able to make my chapter available. Or so I thought.

The original publisher of the book, Ashgate, was taken over by Taylor & Francis at some point in the book’s gestation, hence why it has come out through Routledge (part of the Taylor & Francis group). In the original contributor agreement with Ashgate, I retained the following rights as author:

  • to photocopy the work for my own use
  • to excerpt the work and/or develop the content in a new publication, providing due acknowledgement was made of the original publication
  • to include the work in a collection of my own previously published work, providing due acknowledgement was made of the original publication
  • to upload the published version of the chapter to my institutional repository and/or my personal website, with full publication details of the book – and Ashgate would send a pdf of the published version on request.

This week I contacted Taylor & Francis to request the pdf copy of my published chapter. I was told by Taylor & Francis that I needed to sign another form, a Professional Academic Licence Agreement, before they would provide me with the pdf. This form stated that the pdf (the ‘original files’) would be provided for academic use at my institution, but that I could not:

  • use the original files for any personal, non-commercial purpose
  • use the original files for any commercial purpose
  • make the original files available to anyone [!?!]

It also stated that Taylor & Francis would take legal action should ‘illegitimate copies of the work be distributed’ by me or any third party. Nice.

This was clearly not what I had agreed to when I signed the original Ashgate agreement, so I questioned it. After a couple of emails back and forth with Taylor & Francis, I was sent the pdf in an email that stated:

‘I gather that the department that deals with this sort of thing generally expects a new licence to be signed, but they have agreed to work with your Ashgate agreement, so have supplied the attached file.’

So they should.

P.S. I’d like to add that I’m really pleased that the book’s editors included my work in the volume, and I thank them for their effort in putting the collection together. I’m still waiting on my author’s copy to arrive, but am looking forward to reading it cover to cover.




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *