Q: Who is legally responsible if copyrights are with the publisher?

Detailed Question -

If the publisher has all copyright including publishing and reuse, who is responsible in case of legal issue involving copyright infringement? 

1 Answer to this question

Dear Author,

Thank you for asking this question.

The question seems to be little tricky. I’ll respond to this assuming—the authors have transferred the rights of their article content to the journal. Now, another group publishes article reusing the content without seeking permission from the publisher of existing article. This is certainly an ethical misconduct – copyright violation. Copyright infringement is a legal matter and will give rise to legal sanctions. In such cases, the publishers having rights of the article can sue the other publisher who have allowed reuse without taking permission.

This was a straight answer to the question; however, one needs to know in-detail—what is copyright? Journals undertake different copyright policies. Authors should carefully read about this while submitting their work to the journal. The Creative Commons allow users to copy, distribute and transmit an article, adapt the article as long as the author is attributed. There are three commonly used licenses by the academic publishers: CC BY (permits commercial and non-commercial reuse), CC BY-NC (article is not used for commercial purposes), and CC BY-NC-ND (article is not used for commercial purposes, and the work is not modified or adapted in any way). Depending on the publisher’s copyright policy, the material published are subjected to applicable copyright laws.

As a good practice, authors should always seek copyright permission while reusing or adapting a published work. Failing to do so, one may face penalties and it can damage one's reputation severely.