Some Documents Unavailable until further notice

Some articles from Abbey Publications are referenced (as links) in the Abbey Newsletter or Alkaline Paper Advocate, but are not yet available online. There are two possible reasons for this:

  1. The issue has not yet been digitized. Digitization of back issues of the newsletters is being carried out as time allows. As of this date, there are just a few volumes left to digitize and they will be mounted as soon as they are available.
  2. The items have been withdrawn until we are able to obtain written permission from the copyright owners (in nearly all cases, the author of the articles). Many of these articles have until now been made available here, but a recent court decision has left us no choice but to withdraw the material (see below for more information. We are now in the process of trying to contact authors and obtain written permission to make their articles available in electronic form. In the meantime, you can obtain back issues of the printed newsletters from Abbey Publications

Have you written for Abbey?

We are diligently trying to reach authors of these withdrawn articles so that we can obtain permission to make their articles available again. If you are the author--or have current contact information about the author--of the withdrawn article you have requested (or other withdrawn articles for Abbey Newsletter or Alkaline Paper Advocate), please get in touch with us so that we can send you a permission form to sign and get your article back on line as soon as possible.

Explanation and Background

When authors submit articles to the Abbey Newsletter and Alkaline Paper Advocate they do not give up their copyright. They continue to own all rights to their articles. When Abbey Publications decided to make the newsletters available online, the following notice has been included in both the print and electronic forms of the newsletter (the wording has changed a bit over time, but the gist remains the same):

Authors Please Take Note

Authors of articles and other contributions accepted for publication in the Abbey Newsletter will be assumed (unless they notify the editor otherwise) to be granting permission to publish their work in both print and electronic form, and to archive it and make it retrievable electronically. Authors retain copyright, however, and may republish their work in any way they wish.

Therefore, for articles of recent vintage, authors have, by submitting articles, given their consent for publication both in print and electronic forms, and these articles are still available online.

However, for materials that predate that notice--the bulk of the Abbey corpus--authors did not grant such permission. In order to make the works of these available we have been relying upon the Tasini decision. In connection with Tasini et al. v. New York Times et al., (filed in United States District Court Southern District of New York December 1993), Judge Sonia Sotomayor granted a summary judgment on August 13, 1997. summarized thus:

In this action, the Court is called upon to determine whether publishers are entitled to place the contents of their periodicals into electronic data bases and onto CD-ROMs without first securing the permission of the freelance writers whose contributions are included in those periodicals. According to the Complaint, filed by a group of freelance journalists, this practice infringes the copyright that each writer holds in his or her individual articles. The defendant publishers and electronic service providers respond by invoking the "revision" privilege of the "collective works" provision of the Copyright Act of 1976, 17 U.S.C. 201(c). Defendants maintain that they have not improperly exploited plaintiffs' individual contributions, but that they have permissibly reproduced plaintiffs' articles as part of electronic revisions of the newspapers and magazines in which those articles first appeared. For the reasons to be discussed, the Court agrees with defendants, and grants summary judgment in their favor.

The court held that--in a situation far more complex and ambiguous than our own--that the New York Times' commercial licensing to Lexis/Nexis of complete sets of articles from the printed version did not in fact constitute the creation of a new publication, but was merely a revision of a collective work. Such revision is specifically allowed under 201(c). We have considered that this decision indicates that Abbey Publications had the right to produce an electronic form of the newsletters as a revision of a collective work. For a number of reasons, it seems evident that our situation is even less problematic than that of the NY Times et al.: e.g. the Tasini case revolved around the commercial licensing of authors' materials to a third party, and involved significant monetary consequences. This latter distinction is one that the National Writer's Union (of which plaintiff Jonathan Tasini is president), supports:

The NWU position is that copyright violation begins when someone starts making money from someone else's intellectual property without the owner's consent. Commercial versus non-commercial use is the dividing line.
-- From Tasini vs The New York Times and the Free Flow of Information" An Open Letter and appeal to librarians, civil libertarians, and all who want to preserve public access to information

Furthermore, the Lexis/Nexis databases do not retain as much of the original organization as the online Abbey publications do. Therefore we considered our claim to the rights acknowledged by the Tasini summary judgment to be a very strong vindication of the propriety of mounting Abbey articles online.

The plaintiffs filed an appeal on April 7, 1998, United States Court of Appeals For the Second Circuit. On September 24, 1999, Chief Judge Winter and Circuit Judges Miner, and Pooler reversed the summary judgment. More information about this decision can be found at National Writer's Union "Tasini" page

While we believe that our practice has been proper, this change in legal standing leaves us no choice but to remove articles for which we have not obtained permissions. We intend to seek written permission from all of the authors (and if you can help us locate an author, please see theplea for author contact info above). This process will take quite a while and Conservation OnLine has no budget or staff except for its webmaster, so we ask that you be patient.

Walter Henry
Webmaster, Conservation OnLine
Thu October 7, 1999

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