Paul Jones’ commentary (“Freedom to Publish Must be Protected,” Bulletin, Nov. 2005) seems to miss a major point in the argument when non-paper medium is used as the vehicle for publication.
It is fairly clear that publication of work produced by an academic in most universities can be published as the academic sees fit (notwithstanding any other confidentiality agreements to which the academic agrees). But when multimedia assistance is required the academic is no longer publishing his or her own work alone, but a work that often represents a team effort that could include graphic artists, media producers, web designers, audio or video technicians, producers or instructional designers. To suggest the academic has, or should have, the exclusive right to control publication of work done by many seems unreasonable.
As Jones notes, current collective agreements are often fuzzy in regard to publication of such multi-authored works, however we will not guarantee free flow of information by trying to usurp control over the works of others. Shared ownership of intellectual prop- erty is confusing and rarely simple, but only agreements that recognize the realities of production media and process will provide just and long-term solutions.
In addition, the increasing ease of multimedia production tools such as blogs, pod and video casts and web creation tools, means academics can create their own intellectual property in multimedia formats, without using the contributory work of others, but this entails increased effort and skill by the academic.
Editor, The International Review of Research on Open & Distance Learning
Professor & Canada Research Chair in Distance Education, Athabasca University