[TOS] Copyright assignment considered harmful?

Mel Chua mel at redhat.com
Sat Aug 20 06:12:45 UTC 2011

(The subject line is an allusion to 

As some of you know, I started grad school this week. And... culture 
shock. Ohhhh boy, culture shock. (Yes, I know every professor who's had 
me for POSSE is now chortling with we-told-you-so glee.) One incident 
came today, when at the urging of Karl Fogel, who runs 
http://questioncopyright.org, I looked into academic copyright -- 
specifically, what's the deal for the places TOS typically submits to 

A few hours and a quietly dawning horror later, I... think I've screwed 
up. My first couple co-submissions of work on teaching open source are, 
ironically, *unable* to be open-licensed. I've documented my naive 
findings here: 

Please tell me that I'm missing something. How can we get 
academically-published TOS output released under open licenses? Why do 
we put up with this? Yes, I understand the publishing industry needs to 
make money and this "way of doing things" was well-intentioned at the 
time they were designed, but... but... why?


PS: This isn't the only thing I've written about academic culture shock, 
btw -- for instance, 

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