An Introduction to Copyright & Legal Affairs

As the voice of academic and professional publishers, STM actively engages with an international community of stakeholders on copyright and legal issues in the digital age, and advocates public policies that recognize the importance of the intellectual contribution of STM publishing to society (quality, innovation, distribution and preservation)

The Aims of the Copyright & Legal Affairs Committee

To pursue, within the limits of the STM Association's aims and objectives, the highest possible level of international protection of copyright works and of the services of publishers in making these works available;

To advise and provide guidelines on the legal aspects of various approaches to rights acquisition and management including best practices guides on the balancing of rights required for publishing and communication needs in the scholarly community;

To enhance and improve awareness and knowledge of copyright and related rights, in particular on the international level, among publishers as well as all other members of the academic and scholarly community and those otherwise involved in the management or transfer of rights;

To prevent and fight piracy and all other unauthorized uses of protected publisher products world-wide in conjunction with other relevant organizations.

What do I get from STM? What we do

Copyright, Legal & Legislative Efforts

  • Defence of publisher and rights-holder positions in precedent-setting copyright disputes and proposed government legislation
  • Publishing important statements and position papers on copyright issues
  • Coordinating important industry guidelines permission to re-use limited amounts of material from print and electronic publications.

 Recent actions

  • Advocacy to promote UK Digital Economy Act for better copyright enforcement - but without passing provisions that would have led to over-broad extended collective licensing
  • Advocacy for strong copyright laws in Canada, Brazil, India. Slowed Canadian Bill C-32 until Bill fell in elections; forced Brazilian copyright act to go back to drawing board; partial success in India
  • Advocacy for focussed orphan works directive in Europe, avoiding over-broad "opt-out" licensing provisions
  • Working with librarians and visually impaired representative in stakeholder platforms to find solutions for out-of-commerce works and to increase access for visually impaired without causing disproportionate harm to rightsholders.
  • Negotiate with funders and government organisations to preserve a maximum of freedom for publishing agreements
  • Position papers on exceptions and limitations of copyright and on document delivery

 Enforcement Task Force

  • Negotiate with major libraries engaged in the business of document supply to find licensing solutions to unauthorised "international library document supply services"
  • Stop some unauthorised document suppliers
  • Compliance of document suppliers (promise of future compliance coupled with damage settlement by one commercialand one non-profit supplyorganisation)
  • Ongoing legal proceedings against advertisers, cyber-lockers and rogue sites, thereby showing the way to tackle novel and online infringements on behalf of the industry.

Example: Subito Settlement Agreement


STM Online Piracy Guidelines
STM is happy to provide this guideline for members to evaluate and investigate online pirate websites, and suggestions for actions to be taken.

Copyright Infringement Portal
Online criminals target the publishing industry in a number of ways. Offences range from:

  • websites offering infringing copies of works to download
  • peer-to-peer file sharing of infringing copies
  • password bootlegging
  • commercial sale of counterfeit publications

The industry's growing expertise is tackling these threats in appropriate and effective ways, often by working with commercial partners.

STM is working with the Publishers Association on an anti-piracy service developed by and for the industry.

STM Permission Guidelines
The Guidelines set out general principles for working practice based upon historical practice, common decency and fairness.

Update Permission Guidelines in 2011 for digital

Helped STM member signatories facilitate the publishing process in many cases where delays and costs would have otherwise been incurred.