Good question. On the one hand, the courts might decide that the individual researcher has no authority to sign away the clinic's intellectual property. On the other hand, they might determine that the researcher, as an employee of the clinic, is acting as their agent and does have the right to sign away those rights. I'm not sure if that has ever been tested in the courts. Obviously it's better to just forbid the researchers from signing those agreements in the first place.
Sent from my iPad
> On Jan 28, 2015, at 10:21 AM, "Britt Griswold" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Very useful info Jim. I am wondering if court would have even recognize the authority of a copyright transfer from an institution to a publication on the say-so of a researcher. Can a scientist just sell off the office furniture as well?
>> On 1/27/15 11:10 PM, Jim Perkins wrote:
>> You're absolutely correct. The document that the author signs usually
>> states that s/he is transferring full copyright of the manuscript and all
>> accompanying materials - including artwork - to the journal. As I said
>> earlier, many authors just sign these agreements blindly and never
>> consider whether it violates the agreement they have with the illustrator.
>> If the illustrator granted limited rights to the author, then the author
>> has no legal authority to transfer copyright of the artwork to the
>> journal. But if the illustrator takes any action against the journal, the
>> author gets caught in the middle and isn't happy. You are correct that
>> this inevitably leads to bad feelings between the author and illustrator.
>> So, yes, the illustrator must be very proactive in checking the submission
>> requirements of the journal and making sure the journal will accept a
>> limited license rather than full transfer of the copyright.
>> There has been a lot of discussion about this on the AMI listserv. Much of
>> the discussion focuses on large clinics, medical schools, and teaching
>> hospitals that have their own in-house illustration departments (places
>> like Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, etc.). The staff illustrators would
>> create artwork that belonged to the clinic or med school, but then the
>> scientists and physicians would sign away the rights to that artwork every
>> time they submitted a paper to a journal. Since the journal now owned the
>> copyright, the illustration department would have to pay a licensing fee
>> back to the journal to use their own artwork! Some of the these clinics
>> and medical schools finally realized that they were giving up a valuable
>> commodity by signing away the rights to their work. So they forbid their
>> faculty and researchers from signing these sorts of agreements. Initially
>> this created a standoff, but the publishers eventually backed down because
>> they depend on the researchers at these big institutions for so much of
>> their content. This has opened the doors for independent illustrators to
>> also negotiate with the publishers to retain their copyright.
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