March 15, 2005 ·
So I did something today for the very last time in my life. I’m publishing a comment in the Minnesota Law Review about an article by Brett Frischmann titled “An Economic Theory of Infrastructure.” His is a great article; I was happy to write the comment.
But today, on the brink of publication, I had to confront the “Publication Agreement.” In order to give the Minnesota Law Review my work, I have also to give them my copyright. In particular, they get the “exclusive right to authorize the publication, reproduction, and distribution” of my work. They have in turn sold that right to Lexis and Westlaw.
Never again. It has taken me too long to resolve myself about this, and it was too late in the process of this article to insist on something different. But from this moment on, I am committed to the Open Access pledge:
I will not agree to publish in any academic journal that does not permit me the freedoms of at least a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license.
This is, of course, much less than RMS insists upon. My views are more confused than his. I am not yet convinced of this point w/r/t books. I am not yet convinced w/r/t eliminating the non-commercial restriction. But, still, there is no academic or scholarship related reason why the publishing of academic works today should require more of me than this. And to the extent academic publishing demands more of me than this, I will not support it.
At this point, I know of one law journal that may, soon, be able to publish my work. I hope there will be more. But until there are, there will be no more law review articles by Lawrence Lessig – a relief to many, no doubt; a loss to none, to be sure.