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JGM
JGM, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 11135
Experience:  30 years as a practising solicitor.
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Our academic society has a journal or periodical (as is stated

Customer Question

Our academic society has a journal or periodical (as is stated on the top of the front page of each Issue) which has been published by a commercial publisher. The copyright line cites the publisher, and the front page also states 'all rights reserved'. All income from sales goes to the publisher (no royalties) - this does not bother us. Rather, the basic question is: who is the legal owner of the Journal? I should also point out that there is no contract between the Society and the publisher, even if individual contributors assign copyright to the publisher.

There being no contract, are we then like a football manager or player without a contract who can simply walk away and offers their expertise elsewhere.
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Max Lowry replied 4 years ago.

Max Lowry :

Hi, welcome to Just Answer. I will help you with your question.

Max Lowry :

The author of the individual article is the person that retains ownership in the copyright.

Max Lowry :

This is, however, subject to some other form of agreement between parties, what an article is submitted for publication. Individuals can agree where the copyright will vest.

JACUSTOMER-hjz2t4li- :

Hello, thanks, but thequestion actually is, who owns the journal? Please look again

Max Lowry :

Yes, but what you say "the journal" what do you mean? Do you mean the actual physical thing itself, which was originally pen put to paper?

Max Lowry :

Or do you mean the thing in unpublished form?

JACUSTOMER-hjz2t4li- :

No, a journal is a periodical, review, magazine - e.g. Journal of Legal Studies, oyou must have consulted them in your studies?

Max Lowry :

Yes, I know, but I'm asking how you see it as different for the purposes of your question, so I can answer it specifically.

Max Lowry :

The owner of a journal is going to be the person that put it all together and published it. As for each article within it, then each would be owned by the individual author.

Max Lowry :

This point was addressed in the House of Lords case in Newspaper Licensing Agency -v- Marks & Spencer Plc [2001] UKHL; it concluded what I mentioned in the above sentence.

Max Lowry :

Does this answer your question?

JACUSTOMER-hjz2t4li- :

Ok, last attempt: bearing in mind there is no formal contract between the Society and the Publisher, who is the ultimate owner of the Society's Journal? - the Society, which arranges for and edits the Journal's content and so on, or the external, third party Publisher, which does the physical production, distribution,sales etc.

Max Lowry :

I don't think my answer is helping you and somebody else might be able to put it another way for you, so I'll be opting out.

Expert:  JGM replied 4 years ago.
Thank you for your question.

My colleague is correct. The publisher owns the journal as a product, ie, the physical product as designed and made by him. However in the absence of author assignations of the individual articles these are the property of the author.

It follows therefore that if your society ceases to write for this publication then you are free to set up another publication elsewhere with another publisher, or, you could self publish and simply pay for the printing, assuming you could deal with distribution etc.

Please leave a positive response so that I am credited for my time.