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Anonymous Grad

Whatever the risk it isn't worth it: You shouldn't take on any risk for the sake of a lazy contributor.

I don't like the publishing system we have and strongly support a much more open access one. But given that we do in fact live with this system it seems to me that your contributor is failing their ethical obligation to do this very minor thing (get reuse permission) and avoid putting risk on you.


I'm not sure about the chances of being sued, but I agree with Anonymous Grad. Frankly, I'm surprised the publisher knows about this and is okay with the volume. When I brought a similar case to the attention of a press for which I was evaluating a manuscript, I'm fairly certain they nixed that contribution--they were unaware of the reuse and glad that I mentioned it.

I would approach the author of the piece and mention that they omitted the acknowledgments, which you as editor noticed. Then ask them to get permissions. It really shouldn't be a big deal for them to do this.


Thanks for the replies.

I'm the one who sent in the question; as hinted at in the backstory, the issue with my current volume is likely to turn out to be a non-issue - it will be resolved fully amicably, no problems at all.

My question was genuinely about whether such suing ever happens; for my own future self, and others who edit volumes, it seems an important question.

Malcolm, you mentioned you saw such a case like this, and were able to alert the publishers, which is great.

But there are plenty of cases where this doesn't happen. Self-plagiarism is rife in academia; just this week I've come across two instances of it by very big name philosophers: each had an article published in a journal, then reused large portions of the article verbatim in a book, with no acknowledgement whatsoever, no mention of permissions being sought, nothing (it could be that permissions were sought and given, of course, just not mentioned, although that seems unlikely in the cases I have mind since both works had a section of Acknowledgements where they did list those permissions that had been sought/given - these reuse permissions just didn't cover everything).

Now, if an academic does this with a monograph, or a collection of their own essays, then the only person at risk is themselves. So that's fine.

But with edited volumes, it is the editor who is at risk. And some editors, especially early career researchers, might be (non-culpably) naive enough to think that if they've asked for original research contributions, then that's what their contributors will send them. Moreover, even for the non-naive, it's not always easy (e.g. for contributors who have a large corpus of work) to figure out whether the person has re-used content.


I am a book author, as well as an author of numerous articles. It is normal, (even desirable) that an author uses material from articles in a book. In fact, if you read the standard contracts/publication agreements with the journal publishers, they say explicitly that you can reprint your paper in a monograph. Personally, I revise previously published work when I integrate it into a book, because I have learned more since, and I want it genuinely integrated into the argument of the book. But, as noted above, I do list all such pieces in the Acknowledgements of the book, thanking the journals for permission explicitly.

Jonathan Ichikawa

This is a side note, not directly addressed to the OP, but a point that I think should be more widely known: if you are reworking ideas first published in a paper into a discussion in your book, or someone else's edited book, or another paper, etc., it is appropriate to acknowledge where they were published first, but it is not necessary to seek permission from the publisher.

The journal you published in first may have an exclusive right to publish THAT EXACT CONTENT, but there are no copyright protections for philosophical ideas. You always have the right to write up your ideas again, even when you don't have the right to publish the exact paper again.

Sometimes of course there is a fine line here, and cases where one rewrites but copies and pastes whole paragraphs may fall into a legal grey area here. But the copyright attaches to the paper itself, not the ideas in it.

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