American Ethnography, the AAA, and the Public Domain

(cross posted from Savage Minds)

Recently Anthropologi.info blogged a new anthropology site, American Ethnography. American Ethnography is a very pretty site with monthly thematic collections of articles from AAA journals. My initial response was: “wow, how happy will the AAA be to see entire articles they are selling for money on AnthroSource being reproduced on the web for free?” So I was surprised—astonished would be a better word—when Martin, the proprietor of AE, pointed out a paragraph on the AAA website’s permissions page which states that:

AAA article content published before 1964 is in the public domain and may be used and copied without permission. The AAA asks only that you include a complete reference to the original publication and a link to AnthroSource.

I would actually prefer a little more specification of what “public domain” means exactly here, but its still an extremely positive step forward—well done AAA! And as for the rest of us, I we should take this opportunity to start making some of the foundational works in our discipline available as soon as possible. Not only will this enable everyone to learn about anthropology as a discipline, but it will also be interesting to see if subscriptions to AAA journals are affected. And if they are not, then perhaps we could convince AAA to make the moving wall on their content shorter than its current forty-four years…