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Norman Sperling
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Pearson Grabs Copyrights

© Norman Sperling, November 18, 2011

The Journal of Irreproducible Results receives many requests for permission to reprint items, and grants almost all of them. We are delighted to find wider audiences for our wit, and hope that intrigued readers will look us up and subscribe.

Big publishers usually have "standard" forms with "boiler-plate" legalese compiled by lawyers. In trying to cover every base to their client's advantage, they vastly overreach, often thereby ruining the deal.

JIR's most-requested item is Jerry Zar's hilarious poem, Candidate for a Pullet Surprise. It's a wonderful send-up of word processing spell-checkers. JIR has had fun with computer foibles for many decades now.

After you read it, you'll understand why we invariably reject 2 boiler-plate provisions:
* they almost always request permission to make an audio recording, but this would sound "normal" and completely destroy the reason for using the poem.
* they usually request permission to translate into certain, or "all" other languages. While similar poems could be constructed with the homonyms of other languages, they would not be translations of this one.

Now an arrogant new piece of boiler-plate has arrived:

"In the event that use of a Selection by Pearson or its affiliates exceeds this license granted to Pearson, or any other terms or obligations between Pearson and you, Pearson's sole obligation to you and the rights holder shall be to pay for such additional use or uses in accordance your or the rights holder's standard fees for such use, and the terms and conditions of this Permission Request and License shall apply to such additional uses."

So, once they get permission to use any selection, no matter how restricted, they can blithely use it any way they please, in any further publication, without asking, without limitations, and (unless they are caught) without even paying. This is a grab of copyrights almost as wide as Google's! Everything in the Universe and The Journal of Irreproducible Results emphatically reject this legalese in Pearson's form, and urge all other owners of copyrights to reject it in no uncertain terms. If Pearson violates contracts and agreements and laws, Pearson must pay the full legal penalty.

Furthermore, Pearson is an ever-changing conglomerate of other companies. It buys and sells publishing and education companies. (I wonder if they have any officer who can even list all the original companies which merged into corporations which eventually conglomerated into Pearson.) It could buy something, merge it with the unit holding this particular permission, then spin that off to some other entity about which the original copyright holder knows nothing. What an easy way to grab a lot more rights than any author intended to grant!

Such a practice threatens publishers ... including Pearson! It should be in their own best interest to:
* squelch this offensive overreaching legalese,
* send everybody who ever signed on to it a legal declaration that they abandon this provision and will never invoke it,
* apologize to authors and publishers,
* and replace whatever managers originated and approved this provision with thinking, feeling humans.

The Journal of Irreproducible Results
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What Your Astronomy Textbook Won't Tell You

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