This agreement is intended
to clarify the rights, responsibilities, and expectations of two or more
people working together to write a paper for the Center for Responsible Nanotechnologyô (CRN).
Fundamental: We trust each other's
character and good will. We recognize that people make mistakes and mistakes
are forgivable. We recognize that points of disagreement cannot always
be resolved, and must then be tolerated. We intend to maintain productive
communication and cooperation in any project we work together on.
We intend for the most part to work in the spirit of academia or "Information
ethics" (see Three Systems Of Ethics For Diverse Applications),
facilitating the publication of information. If we do substantial effort
in a different ethic, we will work out a separate agreement to cover that
We intend to help each other, not to limit each other. Exchange of information
should not be a cause for restricting each other's actions.
This is not a legal document. It's intended to be interpreted by spirit,
not by letter; it does not constitute a contract or other legal binding;
and it should be interpreted in plain English, not legalese.
This agreement does not limit other agreements that may be reached for
specific projects; collaborators may work out separate agreements that
may contradict this one.
We need to distinguish between type of contribution (work vs. ideas);
private vs. publishable; noteworthy vs. mundane; contributor vs. user.
So we can have private, noteworthy ideas; or publishable, mundane work;
or any other combination.
We will need four additional ideas: (academic) credit, commercialization,
financial compensation, and co-authorship.
"Private" means not for publication/distribution.
"Work" is the form of something, like a page
of text; "idea" is abstract. For example, work is copyrightable and
idea is not; some ideas are patentable but work is not. Work-and/or-ideas
"Mundane" means you could probably find it
elsewhere; it's an idea you could easily have thought of, or have
seen somewhere else; itís not very memorable. If something is "noteworthy",
you should be able to remember where you saw it. Work is mundane if
you could easily have written it. Compilations of mundane things might
If I email something to you, I'm the "contributor".
If you do anything with it, you're the "user".
"Credit" is an acknowledgement of the source
of a contribution. The format of the credit may vary depending on
"Commercialization" is a use that's intended
to make money for the user.
"Financial compensation" is when one of us
pays the other money for a contribution, such as royalty.
Something is "co-authored" if we have both
contributed substantially to its form and/or content. Reviewing, grammar
checking, etc. doesn't count. Basically, it's co-authored if we can't
say who wrote it.
Everything that's private will be clearly labeled as such, preferably
with a non-private summary, and sent in a file that requires separate
opening (i.e., not in-line in an email). Privacy does not require a pre-existing
NDA; if a file is labeled as private, and you don't want to keep the secret,
don't read it. A work-in-progress can be made private by prior agreement
and doesn't require continuing formalities to stay private.
There are degrees of privacy. The default is that you can tell trusted
people as long as they understand that it's private and they won't spread
it too far, but you won't publish. Anything private enough to require
consideration of penalty for disclosure requires a separate and formal
agreement before sharing it. Private things do not require greater security
than, for example, your personal email.
Mundane ideas are not private, even if they occur in a document that's
private. Mundane work can be private.
If one of us sees a compelling reason to make something retroactively
private, this is not binding, but the other will give serious thought
to the arguments for doing so.
Mundane ideas don't need to be credited. Mundane work should be credited
if a lot of it is used. The user decides what constitutes appropriate
The form of credit is up to the user, and can range from a small-font
footnote to co-authorship.
If a contributor disagrees with a use of a contribution, they do not have
the right to forbid that use in a not-for-profit context. However, they
do have the right to specify a disclaimer stating their opposition, and
to veto credit (e.g., co-authorship) that appears to indicate approval.
Anything sent to the other, unless labeled private, can be published freely.
However, we have no obligation to supply any of our work to each other
or to remove any privacy restrictions. There are a variety of reasons
why a final product, even one that uses shared work, may not be freely
We will avoid deliberately rude behavior such as rushing to publication
in order to steal credit from each other; however, we will not have veto
power over each other's individual publications, speeches, etc.
In the case of disagreement about how or whether to use a co-authored
thing, the user will make a reasonable effort to disentangle the contributions
and then deal with the results as individual contributions according to
our understanding. The party who disagrees will not have the right to
forbid this kind of use, regardless of the degree of success of the disentangling.
Spin-off work, whether academic/non-profit or commercial, is encouraged.
Financial compensation will not be expected without a prior
contract; it's too hard to figure out what's fair, and too easily causes
bad feelings. Publishable contributions are given with the expectation
that they can be used either non-commercially or commercially.
Gifts are allowed (e.g., if a contributor's non-private idea makes lots
of money for the user) but are completely optional.
We assume that we can work out arrangements later, if necessary, for commercialization
of a major contribution (e.g., the wholesale inclusion of a chapter in
a book). If we can't agree, then we will fall back on copyright and fair
Many collaborative efforts will take place for the purpose of producing
work for CRN to use. CRN will not claim exclusive rights to any work.
CRN does not guarantee to use any work. Contributors are willing in principle
to have their names appear in CRN-published and CRN-branded papers that
they worked on. If a contributor is unhappy with a publication, they can
specify a disclaimer; see above under Credit.
CRN may receive money for certain work. CRN is under no obligation to
supply any of this money to the authors of the work. If it does, it is
under no obligation to be equitable. If CRN knows in advance that it will
likely receive money for a planned project, it will notify the contributors
of that fact; contributors may choose to make additional agreements among
themselves and/or CRN; see above under Foundation.
Contributors do not gain any right to speak for CRN. Contributors retain
all rights to express their opinions about CRN.