[LINK] Copyright questions

Roger Clarke Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au
Fri Mar 25 12:40:09 AEDT 2011

Roger asked (semi-rhetorically):
>>  Why on earth would an author not provide the URL that they used?
and then opined:
>>  One reason is to cover their tracks, and hence by omitting the URL
>>  one invites suspicion.

At 12:03 +1100 25/3/11, Tom Koltai wrote:
>Err, I must beg an exception.
>Reasons for leaving off the URL:
>(i)   Competitive academic advantage
>(ii)  Commercial access to sources only
>(iii) Competitive commercial advantage.

Tom, are you asking people not to be suspicious of someone who has a 
profit motive?  I'm not sure that any educated person should be 
*other than* suspicious of someone who has a profit motive.  I don't 
mean 'never buy anything from a salesman', but I do mean 'caveat 

However, to answer the question ...

Confident consultants don't worry about other people leveraging off 
their hard work, but accept that less-confident consultants worry 
about it  (:-)}

Put another way, I get bored with doing any job more than twice, so I 
don't mind compromising my current expertise and depending on 
generating some more quicksmart.

(But I've never, ever recommended my business model to anyone else).

>I quite often leave off URL's when only a uni logon [library
>subscription service] will obtain access to the content.

I reckon that's reasonable, and I often do it as well.

>I occasionally point to SSRN or one of the other DOI style pay access
>sites, but consider that if I supply the title, the authors and the
>publish date of the document sourced, that is usually sufficient for a
>(This was in fact the only style of citations for over five hundred
>years, until the advent of the ubiquitous google Dewey replacement.)

That satisfies the auditability principle;  so as a journal editor or 
conference program chair I personally wouldn't *enforce* the 'show us 
your URLs' guideline, just encourage it.

>Reasons to check the refs would be to :
>A) Debunk nonsense, fraud and plagiarism [for personal academic goals].

I've done it once under contract to a university, have once had to 
defend an accusation of self-plagiarism myself, and funnily enough 
have handled a case for a conference during the last week, i.e. there 
*are* actually quality assurance reasons to do it, as well as - 
agreed - personal / professional jealousy reasons.

>B) Additional topic research for personal academic goals.

Yes, it's important, and it's required of postgrads, at least those 
doing research theses.

An occasional reason is to help in developing teaching materials. 
Journal articles may be relevant to postgrads but are generally too 
tough for undergrads.  But some references found in the theory 
exposition part of a paper can turn out to be good reading for 
undergrads, and good sources to use in developing customised 
materials or slides.  (The question of how to judge plagiarism in a 
text-book is an interesting one).

>Qualifier to (A) & (B)
>All academic goals eventually have commercial reasoning behind them,
>either tenure, or post graduate grant.

That always used to be a bit in the background, but in the new 
managerialist, profit-maximising university, not any more.

>Anyone wanting to do additional research would no doubt have a
>I do not see a problem with not supplying a URL.
>In regards to (iii) above, I have regularly left off crucial reference
>material when presenting papers for commercially secret reasons although
>if the individual is well published, I might refer to his/her
>conclusions as "one popular school of thought as adopted by Koltai T. in
>his paper on [paper renamed to innocuous unfindable unreferenced
>document - no url supplied] is etc etc."

In fully commercial and corporate strategic contexts, all forms of 
lies are fair game, and ethics has no role to play.

Consultancy reports fall in an awkward middle-ground.

For example, if I caught out the publisher of a paper costing $2,000 
using mis-titling in order to put purchasers off the scent, I'd be 
spreading the word far and wide about the quality of their work.

In summary, I agree with you that my comments were about research 
papers, although not only academic ones but also those at the more 
formal and less rambunctiously competitive end of consultancy.

Roger Clarke                                 http://www.rogerclarke.com/

Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd      78 Sidaway St, Chapman ACT 2611 AUSTRALIA
                    Tel: +61 2 6288 1472, and 6288 6916
mailto:Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au                http://www.xamax.com.au/

Visiting Professor in the Cyberspace Law & Policy Centre      Uni of NSW
Visiting Professor in Computer Science    Australian National University

More information about the Link mailing list