I have a bunch of old tech reports I copied when a grad student written by other people. I want to throw them out but would rather scan them into ResearchGate first. For example, INRIA tech reports on various unification methods. Is this OK or should only an author of a report scan it in? I'm not claiming it as my own, I would tag it to the authors. I just think they are a shame to throw away completely.

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  • Who owns the copy right? For example, if they were published by the US government, they are in the public domain. Personally, I find old tech reports useful for my research. – Richard Erickson Dec 20 '17 at 17:14
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    After reviewing the archive, 60 papers, mostly not INRIA, at least half still available online, no hidden gems alas, so much ado about nothing. – Lars Ericson Dec 21 '17 at 22:20

No, it's not OK. You are not legally allowed to distribute these reports if you don't hold the copyright and haven't been granted the right to distribute by the copyright holder.

To add a non-legal reason: You don't know if the authors would like to see these reports on ResearchGate. They might be embarrassed by what they wrote in them, they might want to update them, they might want to publish them as a journal article, they might boycott ResearchGate, ... It would not be polite to upload them without their permission.

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    It seems quaint to force people to travel to a foreign library to read an obscure technical report, when this kind of archiving can effectively be crowd-sourced. Google and Microsoft did it head-on in size but got criticized. I see what you say about reputation management for people who are still alive and actively polishing their brand. The mice in my attic will be relieved to have their meals undisturbed, they quite like term rewriting systems for 2nd order unification. – Lars Ericson Dec 20 '17 at 13:48
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    Dead people also have a reputation and sometimes they have heirs who care about that reputation. I understand where you are coming from, but I don't see a way for you to distribute without permission. Of course, you can archive these for yourself. – Roland Dec 20 '17 at 13:55
  • @LarsEricson How did you phrase the request? If you said "Do you want to upload them?" he might have said "nah" because he was retired, but if you asked "May I upload them?" You might get a better answer. – Azor Ahai Dec 20 '17 at 20:27
  • P.S. I pulled the binders out of the attic and actually more than 50% of articles are still available online. Vintage is 1970-1988. It turned out not to be INRIA tech reports but rather a mix of different formats (journal, conference, tech report) from all over. The ones that aren't available are from journals too old, conferences too old, or departments reorganized with no web presence or authors that didn't continue their careers. So maybe no great loss. I was expecting some hidden gems. – Lars Ericson Dec 21 '17 at 3:23

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