So, after my post on ground-truth documents, one of my commenters argued eloquently that I ought to clean it up and submit it to a journal read by people who manage programming projects. He suggested Software Practice and Experience.
This seemed like a pretty good idea, until I read SP&E’s submission procedures and was reminded that (like most journals) they want me to assign the copyright of my submission to the publisher.
My instant reaction was this: Fuck. That. Noise. I’m certainly willing to cede publication rights when I want to be published, but copyright assignment ain’t going to happen. Ever. Nobody gets to own my work but me. (Yes, I insist on this with my book publishers too.)
I have a message to all you technical journal publishers out there…
There is probably still a place for journal publishers in today’s Internetted world. The peer-review networks you maintain and the impact score of your journal still have value to authors. But the explosion in alternate channels for reaching an audience of technical peers means your value proposition has seriously eroded. You don’t have enough to offer me, any more, to buy my compliance to a copyright assignment.
In fact, the balance of power has shifted so much that I cannot but consider that requirement offensively stupid. Insulting. And that’s not my problem, it’s yours. I have a blog with a readership that probably exceeds the subscriber base of most technical journals; achieving that isn’t even difficult, these days, for any competent writer. So who in the bleeding hell are you to think you can still treat me (or any other author) like some sort of peon dependent on your good graces to reach an audience?
These are my terms. My writing goes out under my copyright, with a Creative Commons or equivalent license. You can have any additional quitclaim you want to reassure your lawyers that I’m not going to sue you for publishing me. You get to use my content as an inducement to people to buy your journal, but I still own it.
That’s what you get, and that’s all you get. If that isn’t enough, take your pretensions to power that you no longer possess and ram them up the bodily orifice of your choice.