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Although nearly every Government-sponsored publication produced by McGraw-Hill in the past half century has differed in certain respects from all the others, most of them can be classified in one of four major categories. The problems of private copyright, Government property, and the public interest vary somewhat with respect to each category. Hence the complexity of a total consideration of a policy on public domain can be clarified by describing each of the four categories and its particular problems. (Categorized listings of Government-sponsored works published by McGraw-Hill and privately copyrighted are appended for the reader's guidance by example.) The four major categories are:

1. Reports of ad hoc commissions, committees, task forces, delegations, symposia, etc.

2. Works written or edited "for hire" (under a Federal contract, grant, or commission), such as histories, treatises, operating manuals, handbooks, compilations, etc.

3. Reports on research done by non-Government personnel under Federal contract or grant.

4. Textbooks and associated instructional materials written by contract or grant. It is recognized that certain Government agencies (including the USOE) have not in the past been heavily involved in the production of works in every one of these categories; but considering the current expansion of Federal responsibility and activity in educational and informational programs, it is likely that in the next decade scores of commercially publishable works of each kind will be produced in these programs. Thus each category has present importance in the future outlook.

REPORTS OF COMMISSIONS, COMMITTEES, ETC. Most reports of commissions, committees, etc., are of specialized and transient interest, yet many of them bear their own publishing cost when commercially produced. Most of them are the product of a Government-sponsored commission or committee. The Government pays staff and basic operational costs, but the substance of the reports is produced by private citizens, usually working without pay. (Often Government funds are not provided specifically for publication, and the publisher has assumed the cost of preparing an acceptable manuscript and suitable illustrations.) Hence, it can be said that though these reports are Government-sponsored, the Government usually pays only a part of their total costs, and thus they ought not be considered wholly Government property.

In every instance in our experience, the interests of the Government and the general public have come off well when commercial publication has been arranged:

1. The cost of Government publication has usually been saved.

2. The work has appeared in a better form for having gone through professional editorial hands in the publishing house. (In many cases the publisher has made a literary silk purse from sow's-ears materials.)

3. Dissemination has been wider than it could have been with only a Government Printing Office printing.

4. The work receives more publicity and public recognition, and it is placed more quickly and effectively in the proper

channels of literary notice and awareness in its field.

5. The specially interested public has paid no more than a fair market price for the end product. The argument against placing Government-sponsored reports of this kind in the public domain is simple. A large majority of them are of such specialized interest and such transient value that only one edition can be published with profit. Two editions issued by two publishers would be profitless; three editions would be ruinous. So with every publisher free to publish such a work, no one actually would. Thus there usually must be a GPO printing or nothing. And if a GPO printing is forced, public funds are needlessly spent.

Further, to public participants in a Government-sponsored study, a GPO printing of the resulting report is never as satisfactory as a recognized publisher's imprint. Thus some of the attraction of participation is lost when it is known that only a GPO printing is possible. (GPO publications are infrequently reviewed in newspapers, magazines, and professional journals; often they are not cataloged by libraries in the normal way; often they are allowed to go out of print when a first printing is exhausted.)

Infrequently there is produced a Government-sponsored report that can be published profitably in two or three private editions as well as a GPO printing. The Report of the Warren Commission, which appeared in three commercial editions with added sets of copyrighted background and interpretative materials, is a recent case in point. But for every Government report having such wide public interest, there are produced at least 200 to 300 that can be published profitably in one edition only. In fact, McGraw-Hill has been involved in only two other instances in which commercial editions have been published in addition to GPO printings. One was the report of the Hoover Commission on Government reorganization, of which our company published (at Mr. Hoover's request) a clothbound edition. Sales were just sufficient to produce a break-even point on the venture. The other was an Atomic Energy Commission report entitled Reactor Shielding Design Manual, of which our company and another published clothbound editions simultaneously. Sales in neither case were sufficient to produce a profit.


Scores of works are produced each year by professional writers and editors working under a Federal contract or grant or under a fee or salary agreement. In some cases the work is done directly for a Government agency, more often for a contractor or subcontractor. Often the agreement specifies that the writer or editor or contractor can publish and copyright the finished work and receive a fee or royalty for his publishing rights. In such cases, the contractual agreement usually specifies that the Government shall have a royaltyfree license to reproduce the published work for its own use.

Commercial publication by contractors of works in this category has been standard practice for many years in several Federal agencies,

including the Department of Defense, the National Science Foundation, and the AEC. The practice is so firmly established in the DOD that standardized contractual clauses are provided in the Armed Services Procurement Regulations. It is so well established in the AEC that six open-end monograph series and many independent textbooks, treatises, and handbooks (totaling well over 100 titles) have been published by contractors and grantees over the past fifteen years. Indeed, the AEC pioneered this kind of commercial publishing when in 1946'it authorized Prof. Henry D. Smyth to write his famous report, Atomic Energy for Military Purposes, and to publish it in a copyrighted commercial edition simultaneously with a GPO printing. The l'eport proved to be a great interest internationally, and in spite of a substantially higher price, the commercial edition (published by the Princeton University Press) outsold the other by a wide margin125,000 to 40,000 copies. The GPO edition, last reprinted in 1950, is now out of print, but the Princeton edition is still in print and in steady demand.

So far as we know, neither the propriety nor the legality of a private copyright secured by explicit agreement under a Government contract or grant has ever been questioned by an official in the executive branch or by a member of the Congressional Joint Committee on Printing, which is responsible for the operations of the GPO.

The advantages to the Government of commerical publication of works in this category are usually the same as those cited for the first category, plus three additional ones that are of some importance:

1. The Government often acquires free copies of the commercial edition for its own use and/or royalty payments that offset a good part of its expense in the venture.

2. The prospect of private income to the author allows the Government to negotiate more favorable terms for the performance of the writing task.

3. The prospect of commercial publication under a recognized inprint attracts writers of higher caliber. Placing works of this kind in the public domain can ensure printing by the GPO only, with consequent loss of all advantages cited. Indeed, we think it can be safely predicted that many first-class writers and editors will lose interest in producing works for the Government if the requirement of public domain and the prospect of GPO printing are imposed upon them.


Many reports produced in fulfillment of Government-financed research projects have been copyrighted and commercially published by contractors or grantees under prearranged terms and conditions. In most of these cases, the right of publication has been an added attraction to the persons or firms undertaking the research projects. The advantages of private publication are the same as those stated for the foregoing category of publication; the disadvantages of public domain are also the same.

It should be further noted that private publication of research reports in no way restricts the fullest possible use of research results as reported.


Government-sponsored textbooks and instructional materials have publishing characteristics that differ in several respects from those of the first three categories:

1. They must find their place in highly competitive markets. Hence they must be priced competitively yet must bear a heavy freight of promotional and teacher-service costs (sample copies for adoption, desk copies after adoption, teacher's manuals, solution manuals, etc., all usually supplied free).

2. They involve the publisher in larger professional efforts and in higher costs required for editorial perfection and classroom testing. (Here the publisher's contribution goes far beyond the mere editing of a finished manuscript for style and accuracy; it entails assistance with substantive content and structure, and with instructional philosophy and classroom method as well.) Indeed, the publisher's editorial expense may be larger than the Government's contribution to the cost of the finished manuscript. Owing to his high initial cost, the publisher often does no better than break even on the first edition, and in some cases he suffers a loss. Successful second and third editions must be depended upon for realization of profit.

3. A successful textbook is usually the product of an ongoing partnership in which the author has continuing professional and proprietary interests. A textbook manuscript is the product not only of the time and effort required to write it but of the author's total professional training and teaching experience as well. His reputation as a scientist and teacher, and often his experience and reputation as an author of other books, are added ingredients. Thus the author's contribution to a successful text is far more than the actual time and effort required to produce a manuscript. Yet under a Government contract or grant he is usually paid for that time and effort only. So it is that the author often feels (and rightly, we think) that though the manuscript as a physical property belongs to the Government (or to its contracting agency), its style, its methodology, its scholarship, and its authority are still his own. He feels that though the Government has clear legal rights in the manuscript, he still has certain professional and proprietary rights in it. Further he usually feels a deep and continuing concern that the integrity of his work shall

not be compromised either before or after publication. The fact that many authors and contributors to curriculum projects are vitally concerned about this matter is illustrated by the following letter that appeared in a recent (Jan. 21, 1966) issue of Science. It expresses the views of an eminent educator who has made significant contributions to the development of Government-sponsored curriculum materials:

The U.S. Office of Education has recently ruled that materials produced by its grantees are not to be copyrighted but are to be placed in the public domain. Although the clear intent of the regulation is to serve the public interest, it appears likely that, in practice, it will have the opposite effect.

What are the probable effects of this new regulation on the future production and dissemination of curriculum materials similar to those, for example, prepared

recently by the secondary school science projects in biology, chemistry, geology and physics, which have been quite widely regarded as of great public value? (I am not concerned here with the effect of the regulation on studies of primarily technical or academic interest). If a USOE grantee were to produce a manuscript for a good chemistry textbook that could not be copyrighted, the reaction of the major textbook publishers would be, I believe, generally negative. An ethical publisher might acknowledge the excellence of the new text and might recognize how satisfactorily it could supplement his line of textbooks. But he would realize that the same materials could also be published by any other publisher, with or without change, and perhaps more rapidly and cheaply. Thus, he might well decide that his necessarily extensive investment in such a book, for careful editing, preparation of illustrations, training of salesmen, a national advertising, and printing and distribution, would place him at a competitive disadvantage with respect to other publishers who might use the same materials with a minimum investment. It appears probable that contemporary public domain materials would be ignored by the more substantial mblishers who have full facilities for national distribution, and might even be considered too risky by virtually all publishers.

But there is a more fundamental consideration. Such materials as these do not emerge simply as the result of a grant; they depend also on the creative efforts of scholars and writers. They have an intellectual as well as a fiscal component. Surely the traditional rights of an author should not be summarily discarded simply because his work promises to be of public benefit and has therefore been judged worthy of support from public funds.

The director of a curriculum project supported by the Office of Education may find it difficult to recruit writers who are seriously interested in producing new curriculum materials for our schools, if they are aware of the possible effects of the public domain policy on their efforts. They would realize that their materials might never be published and made available for use in the schools; that their carefully devised themes and logical presentations could be altered at will by editors and publishers; that they might be completely excluded from the opportunity to revise their original ideas on the basis of actual use in the schools.

It seems clear to me that the public domain policy of the Office of Education requires further study. Execution of the policy should be postponed until it is abundantly clear that it is not contrary to the public interest.-ARNOLD B. GROB


(Reproduced with permission of Arnold Grobman and Science.)

In consideration of all these factors and attitudes, it seems that in financing a textbook project, the sponsoring Government agency has an obligation to:

1. Recognize the partnership nature of the undertaking and the fact that Government funds support only a portion of the true cost. Private contributions are substantial in every case.

2. Recognize that the perfecting of a textbook usually requires the production of two or three editions and that full value is not returned on the Government's initial "seed money” investment unless revisions are provided for in one way or another.

3. Recognize the author's professional and proprietary interests in the first edition, and provide sufficient incentive for his continued engagement in one or more revisions.

4. Recognize the author's concern for the integrity of his published work, and provide reasonable protection thereof.

5. Recognize that the publisher who makes substantial investments in editorial and promotion expense usually needs to produce at least two editions in order to realize an acceptable profit.

6. Recognize that once a work has been placed in the public domain, there can be no control whatever over the form or manner in which it is henceforth reproduced and used. Since there has been some misunderstanding in certain Government agencies of the foregoing final point, and since this point is closely

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