You know you signed on that dotted line
Months ago, I submitted an abstract for a conference this November. (It's about the history of network security at Small Liberal Arts College. The paper, not the whole conference. I mean, I'm in a navel-gazing profession, but let's not get silly here.)
I'm not surprised they accepted it. I'm very surprised that they told me my first draft for peer review was due (ahem) some weeks ago. I finished and submitted the paper Friday. Oops. Anyway, done now, reasonably to my standards, and reviewed by a good number of my colleagues at SLAC.
Here's the problem. The Association which will be publishing my paper wants me to transfer my copyright to them. They say this is far easier, because they might have other legitimate ways to publish it, and it's going to be a lot easier if they're the contact point than if I am. They are, of course, correct about that. Further, I wrote this to be public, and if they want to publish it online, print, CD-ROM, skywriting, or as text for a Philip Glass concerto, I have little problem with that.
(Private note to Philip Glass: Let's do lunch. Can you invite David Bowie?)
But first of all, I wrote this damn thing on my time and the College's. This took a good number of late nights, and as near as I can see, either I own it or the College does, and I don't like giving up control.
Second, it's true that the association in question has pretty reasonable copyright policies in place for non-profit use. I can put it on a web page; so can the College. Teachers can use it in class and on reserve and on electronic reserve. These are good things... but I don't see any promise that they won't change their policy in a few years.
Third, well, my paper was almost a month late and I really don't want to mess anything up by making a stink.
I'm the guy arguing that faculty members don't know what they're giving away. That they don't think about their contracts. That they don't fight for the things which will really make scholarship work again. And here I am, saying "I guess I can hold my nose for this one time."
When I figure out how to get karmically right, I'll let you know.