The Initial Monetization of the Copyright in American Physics

  • Thomas David Scheiding University of Hawai’i – West O’ahu, Kapolei, Hawaii, USA


In 1976 the copyright law in the United States was revised, and publishers quickly attempted to profit from this revision.  An initial attempt to monetize the value of the intellectual property in scholarship was in the discipline of physics with the motivation being the replacement of declining revenue that came from the page charge and subscriptions.  Using the archival records of the American Institute of Physics, this paper discusses the attempt to legitimize a new source of revenue within the scholarly society – a copyright royalty payment for the reprinting of a scholarly article.  Although the American Institute of Physics was successful in capturing ownership over the intellectual property when the copyright law was revised, the organization ultimately struggled for many years to collect any meaningful revenue through the vehicle of the Copyright Clearance Center.  This attempt however ultimately set the stage for capturing royalties through the electronic distribution of scholarship.  This paper expands on our understanding of how the organizational structure and financing of the scholarly communication process in physics adjusted to external changes in the second half of the twentieth century.


1. Adkinson, Burton (1963). “Primary Scientific Publication and the Federal Government,” Science 140, no. 3567 (1963): 613-17.
2. AIP (1949). “Institute Doings,” Physics Today 2, no. 6. 29 and 38-39.
3. AIP (1952). “Director's Report for 1951,” Physics Today 5, no. 5. 4-10.
4. AIP (1958). “Annual Report, 1957,” Physics Today 11, no. 6. 15-21.
5. AIP (1960). “Annual Report, 1959,” Physics Today 13, no. 5. 16-25.
6. AIP (1971). “AIP Annual Report: 1970,” Physics Today 23, no. 6. 38-43.
7. AIP (1975). “Viewing AIP in 1974,” Physics Today 27, no. 6. 45-53.
8. AIP (1979). “The AIP in 1978,” Physics Today 31, no. 8. 43-50.
9. AIP (1985). “The AIP in 1984: A Year for Review and Endorsement,” Physics Today 37, no. 7. 46-54, on 54.
10. Barton, H. (1963). “The Publication Charge Plan in Physics Journals.” Physics Today. 16. 45-57.
11. Capital Systems Group, Inc (1976). Page-Charge Policies and Practices in Scientific and Technical Publishing: A Historical Summary and Annotated Bibliography (Springfield, Va: National Technical Information Service).
12. Gorman, Robert (1978). “An Overview of the Copyright Act of 1976,” University of Pennsylvania Law Review 126, no. 4. 856-884
13. Hodes, Bernard (1967). “The AIP in 1966,” Physics Today 20, no. 5. 45-53.
14. Hutchisson, Elmer (1964). “AIP Annual Report, 1963,” Physics Today 17, no. 5. 43-59.
15. Kaiser, David (2002). “Cold War Requisitions, Scientific Manpower, and the Production of American Physicists after WW II,” Historical Studies in the Physical and Biological Sciences 33, no. 1. 131-59.
16. Kevles, Daniel (1995). The Physicists: The History of a Scientific Community in Modern America. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
17. Krumhansl, J.A. (1977). “Contribute Your Copyright.” Physics Today 30, no. 9. 104.
18. Scheiding, Thomas (2009). “Paying for Physics Knowledge One Page at a Time: The Author Fee in Physics in Twentieth-Century America.” Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences 39, no. 2. 219-47.
19. Scheiding, Thomas (2013). “Using Industrial Patronage to Manage Growth and Change in 20th Century American Physics.” Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 44, no. 4. 450-463.
20. Strawhorn, John M. (1979). Development of a Planning Guide to Innovation in the Dissemination of Scientific Information: Final Report, (Rockville, MD: Capital Systems Group).
How to Cite
SCHEIDING, Thomas David. The Initial Monetization of the Copyright in American Physics. International Journal of Social Sciences, Humanities and Education, [S.l.], v. 5, n. 4, p. 163-176, may 2022. ISSN 2521-0041. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 17 may 2022.