Fermilab Core Computing Division
Fermilab Core Computing Division

Technical Publications - Frequently Asked Questions

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How would Fermilab hosting a publication on our website break U.S. copyright law? 

We are only allowed to host a “preprint” version that does not have a publishers logos, markings or the copyright information anywhere on it.  If we host a “published” version with all of the logos, etc., on our website, the U.S. copyright laws give the publisher the right to sue Fermilab. 


When submitting only a technical memo, does one have to have a copyright form signed?

If you only submit the technical memo to Fermilab, there is no copyright form required.  However, if you submit the technical memo to journals and/or conferences that do require a copyright form, a Fermilab authorized representative would need to sign it.


What does the signing of a copyright form really mean when submitting a paper to a journal for publication? 

The signing of a copyright form, by a Fermilab authorized representative, gives Fermilab the right to freely host the paper without copyright infringement.


Is it in violation of a copyright to then publish that written work somewhere else, like making it available on a Fermi website or submitting it to arXiv.org?  If not, why not? 

It would depend upon the clauses listed in the copyright form.  Each copyright form is unique to a publisher or conference, which is why you are asked to submit the form to Fermilab’s Technical Publication Office as we know what clauses give us the right to make to paper available on our website.  The arXiv.org is a free document repository that is widely used by the scientific community and it does not infringe upon Fermilab’s right to freely host a paper.

How does something become protected as "intellectual property" at Fermilab and how is this different from a copyright or a patent? 

If you think that you might have intellectual property that could be patentable, you should contact the Office of Partnerships and Technology Transfer located in Wilson Hall 2nd floor west  https://www.fnal.gov/directorate/techtransfer/index.html 

How is this different from a copyright or a patent? 

A copyright protects Fermilab’s right to host the paper on our website.  A patent protects the invention/intellectual property from other people and/or companies stealing your invention/intellectual property to make money from it.