Why you might consider publishing with us, instead of elsewhere.
We've all heard as children that "possession is nine-tenths of the law." This maxim may be too simplistic for intellectual property rights law in the United States, but in some ways it's true.
If you publish your work from your employer's webserver (even if it's a university server, and even just by placing it on a course website) this may constitute handing over "work performed for hire" to your employer under the 1976 Copyright Act. Under the act, if you hand over in recorded form works produced during the term of employment to your employer, intellectual property rights are by default the employer's, unless a contract that grants the creator some rights to his or her work is negotiated before the work is begun. And putting work on an employer's website has been ruled, in many cases, to be "handing over". The work may no longer be yours.
The EServer, as a volunteer-run cooperative, provides an alternate way to publish that allows authors to own their work.
Faculty members can retain copyright to work published on the EServer, whereas work published online through a courseware system based at the faculty member's university may (by law) automatically become the property of the university (this is subject to the intellectual property contracts, which may specify more precisely the property relationships). Publishing on the EServer is not only a way to preserve ownership, it's a way of opposing the trend that views academic knowledge as a private commodity, rather than a creative commons of culture.
Since its inception, the EServer has promised not to charge readers to access the works we publish. We ask authors to sign a copyright agreement form that assures they will retain copyright to work published on the EServer, but gives us permission to publish it free of charge to readers. Read the form; we think you'll find that it's designed to protect authors rights, much more openly than many employment contracts do.