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I want to upload a scanned copy of a research paper that isn't accessible online to demonstrate someone else's significant contribution to a field. Internet was not widely available when the study was released. I intend to upload the paper on Research Gate to make its abstract indexed by Google Scholar.

I want to do this to prevent plagiarism by researchers who know about this paper and make use of the fact that it's not in English and not easily discoverable to write their own research papers without giving credit to the original author.

Therefore, I plan to upload the paper on Research Gate to make abstract indexed by Google Scholar search engine. I do this to make it discoverable and cited. And to be able to prove that the man, whom I am trying to help, is the original author. I also intend to upload the paper on other academic search engines.

The main text of the paper is not in English, while the title and abstracts are in English but are poorly translated. My questions:

  1. Is it acceptable to upload to Research Gate the scan of the original paper and attach an English translation of the main text?
  2. Is it acceptable to provide a better translation of the title and abstract in the attached translation if the ones in the original paper are poorly translated?
  3. Can I enter the improved translation in Research Gate field for the abstract instead of the poor one, so that it is indexed by Google Scholar search engine?

For those concerned about copyright: I am the copyright owner.

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    Your title ("present") implies that you plan to present it in a conference.
    – JRN
    May 3 at 13:43
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    1. why research gate?
    – EarlGrey
    May 3 at 13:46
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    Yes it is precisely about copyright infringement if you make a published work freely online. You don't have to earn money from an infringement. Perhaps that is your misconception. The publishing rights to the work are held by the copyright holder. Making it "freely available" is publishing. Likewise for a translation. Almost certainly this is the publisher of an older work.
    – Buffy
    May 3 at 15:36
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    If you are not asking about copyright (which doesn't make sense to me), what does "Is it acceptable" and "Can I" refer to? Acceptable to who, and why does that person/entity's acceptance matter?
    – Bryan Krause
    May 3 at 18:43
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    How are you the copyright holder if you are neither the author or the publisher. What does the author want you to do? Why is the author not taking this action? May 3 at 22:29

2 Answers 2

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What you propose is covered by copyright law, both the uploading and any publishing of a translation. First determine if it is a copyrighted publication. If so, ask the publisher or other copyright holder. If not, then it is fine.

Note that copyright protections still hold on many things done before the internet. Also note that copyright law varies.

If you have no rights or license to the work, then you can reference it and work within fair use as defined in the appropriate copyright law.

Note that a paper doesn't need to be internet accessible to be cited, or even to be found.


For your changed question: 1 is almost certainly copyright infringement, provided there is still a valid copyright held by someone else. So, no, not ethically acceptable and unlikely to be legally acceptable. 2 is probably fine under fair use. (Probably fine.) 3 is a judgement call, but you don't get to make the judgement. The copyright holder, if any, will judge that. If they disagree with the action they may take an action of their own under applicable laws. But even as much as a paragraph could be considered infringement.

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    Copyright is not part of my question. This is a published work of a relative of mine, which is largely unknown but I think, important. I want to make it available online, so that nobody can steal without giving him credit. People who know about it, use it without mentioning that he is the contributor. I want to stop this and to prevent future plagiarism.
    – George
    May 3 at 14:58
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    If it is published then no one can "steal" it. If the copyright has been given up to a publisher then your relative has only limited rights which almost certainly don't include giving you permission for this. Whether it is your question or not, it must be considered for ethical practice. You can write "about" it, of course, making it more visible. But publishing and translation rights are normally part of copyright. Talk to the publisher. Make a proposal there.
    – Buffy
    May 3 at 15:09
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    @George See meta.stackexchange.com/questions/66377/what-is-the-xy-problem - it's far, far better to ask about the problem you have rather than your guess at a solution. If you want to ask about preserving/publicizing old works by a relative, that's an entirely different question than the one you've posted. Is your relative living?
    – Bryan Krause
    May 3 at 15:23
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    @George You've left out a lot that is important. The latest edit is much better than the first one, but you seem very confused about what copyright is in the last sentence: "Please keep in mind that the question is not about infringement of copyright on my part if I make a published work freely available online." If the work is copyrighted, which it probably is, making a published work freely available online is definitely against copyright. It's one of the most basic ways to be against copyright. I don't see how anyone can answer your question without addressing that.
    – Bryan Krause
    May 3 at 15:34
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    @George StackExchange is about building a repository of Q&A. If your question isn't useful to anyone else, this is the wrong place for it. Copyright issues are certainly not irrelevant to what you're discussing, to the contrary, copyright is at the very heart of what you do next. Your question after all is "what is acceptable", how is that not copyright? If you mean that you aren't worried about your relative suing you, it's important to realize that they almost certainly wouldn't be the person doing it, it would be the original publisher who is not likely to be as glib about it as you are.
    – Bryan Krause
    May 3 at 18:22
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Write a short technical note, or a review paper, or a short contribution to whatever journal relevant and related to the topic publishes them.

This way you defend your bibliographic work (you publish something in your name), you respect the original developer (you cite the pre-internet era paper), you make the link with the current practitioners (you should cite some very recent progress and/or publication) so your work may be picked up (or not, but you must do your best to reduce the effort to do so for everyone).

Otherwise it is just a +1 "fact" circulating in the internet saying "hey, ancient sailormen already knew that the Earth revolves around the Sun" without much backing nor strength and with some issues regarding copyright&intellectual property.

Ps: please note that I am not downplaying the importante of Galileo work, nor I am ignoring the fact that ancient sailormen knew the Earth was rotating around the Sun.

Ps nr. 2: when I say

but you must do your best to reduce the effort to do so for everyone

I do not mean that you have to upload your better translation and spam its URL to everyone interested, this approach would be the best effort to make everyone ignore you and the original paper.

UPDATE after your comments:

Just write a short technical document, describe briefly why the old paper is relevant, provide translations to the main points of the paper (citing it) and then publish your document on arXiv. Then you are all set, you can step into the future claiming plagiarism for what you wrote in the arXiv submission or hunting citations for the pre-internet era paper.

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    Again, the rights to publish translations are held by the copyright owner. The OP should deal directly with them.
    – Buffy
    May 3 at 16:56
  • @Buffy I don't care about the copyright owner. I don't ask this. Let's that I am the copyright owner.
    – George
    May 3 at 18:21
  • @Buffy I mentioned explicitly translations of main passages of a paper, not translation of paper. The translation of passages of the paper are paraphrase and not direct quotation. So copyright conflicts can, in that case, be avoided. blog.apastyle.org/apastyle/translations/….
    – EarlGrey
    May 3 at 18:43
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    @EarlGrey You are confusing issues of citation with issues of copyright law. Under most copyright law I am aware of, translations are protected as property of the copyright holder. You can't get around copyright of a work just by translating it. See law.stackexchange.com/questions/13241/… for example.
    – Bryan Krause
    May 3 at 18:49
  • @BryanKrause please read my answer, then draw your conclusions and go after all the review papers in the world.
    – EarlGrey
    May 3 at 18:53

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