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Yale Law Journal

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The editor of the Yale Law Journal sent this note to the cyberprofs list:

From: [1] Sent: Tuesday, May 10, 2005 3:56 PM To: cyberprof@lists.Stanford.EDU Subject: Yale Law Journal SSRN Policy


I wanted to get in touch with you all regarding the Yale Law Journal's policy on posting YLJ articles on SSRN. I understand from our faculty that there has been some discussion of this issue on your listserv over the past few days, and I wanted to have a chance to address your concerns.

First of all, I would like to thank you for bringing this up. I personally believe that there is too much of a business mentality in the top law journals that sometimes gets in the way of our scholarly mission. The Yale Law Journal is thoroughly committed to making our scholarship widely available. To that end we have made full copies of our past 10 volumes available free or charge on and are in the process of revising our standard author contract to allow authors greater distribution rights.

In terms of the SSRN issue specifically, we have contacted SSRN about coming up with a solution to this problem that satisfies everyone's interests. When we publish something under the Yale Law Journal banner, we are certifying that all of the footnotes have been checked and that the piece meets our editorial standards. As such, we would prefer that authors post a link to the Yale Law Journal cite in their abstract so that readers can have access to the paginated version of the article that appears in the same format as the print version (as opposed to posting a working paper that has not been through our editorial process). We have also invested considerable resources in our website (in fact we are launching a companion publication with exclusive online content this year)and would like to drive as much traffic to our site as possible.

That said, we recognize importance of the download count to our authors, and we are working with SSRN to see if links from SSRN abstracts to can be counted in the download count.

Please feel free to email me directly if you have any thoughts or suggestions on this issue.

Sincerely, C.J. 1000 Mahoney Editor-in-Chief Volume 115 Yale Law Journal

During the discussions that led up to the publication of my Note, the Journal took the position that its standard contract allows authors to retain sufficient rights to release their works under a Creative Commons license a year after the date of first publication. (It follows, a fortiori, that they can be freely posted and distributed at that point; the Journal's policy of posting PDFs of all articles largely obviates the need for separate public posting.) Any Creative Commons license that includes the Attribution attribute should be compatible with the attribution requested by the Journal, provided that the author specifies the YLJ citation as part of making the work available.

- James Grimmelmann


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