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I am a Professor of Law and the Director of the Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property at the American University, Washington College of Law and am a founding member of the Creative Commons board.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Tax Problem for Commercial Publishers?

In arguments about open access, commercial publishers do their utmost to minimize rhetorically the value they receive from free articles and free labor by referees or peer reviewers and some editors.

When the audience changes, these same publishers have suggested to investors in the past that it is precisely because they don't have to pay for these critical inputs and that demand for their publications is relatively inelastic that their business is so profitable.

I wonder what story they tell the taxing authorities about whether these free inputs are part of their gross income? In the United States, "gross income means all income from whatever source derived," 26 U.S.C. s. 61(a). "Any source" would seem to include in kind inputs such as free articles of value and free labor. right?



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