It sounds like a satire on capitalism but reality is often even worse. If you have written an article for SAGE you cannot send your own article to colleagues, you cannot copy nor save it. You can read it on one computer only according to anthropologist and Culture Matters blogger Lisa Wynn.
Wynn had published an article in the Journal of Social Archaeology. Instead of getting a PDF of the published article, which is what she gets from all the other journals, she received this e-mail:
Dear Contributor, Thank you for submitting your article titled “Shape Shifting Lizard People, Israelite Slaves, and Other Theories of Pyramid Building: Notes on Labor, Nationalism, and Archaeology in Egypt” to Journal of Social Archaeology, which was recently published in volume 8 issue 2 of the journal.
We invite you to visit http://articleworks.cadmus.com/doc/872534 to download an electronic version of your article (we are no longer sending out paper offprints/tearsheets). You can download this file as an .exe file, which will allow you to view and print the PDF an unlimited number of times on your own computer, and you can forward it as a link up to 25 times to your co-authors and other colleagues. Please note that it is a protected file and you will not be able to forward the file itself or upload it to a website.If you have difficulty please check our FAQs section http://articleworks.cadmus.com/open/sagehelp.html
“I will NEVER again consider publishing with them as long as Sage is running things this way", she comments.
I have followed the download-link and made these two screenshots.
PS: Strangely enough, as a SAGE-subscriber via my university account, I could download a conventional pdf-file of her article.
Christopher Kelty wrote about similar difficulties to get a free copy of his own article, published in the journal Cultural Anthropology in his Savage Minds-post Recursive public irony.
The above procedure applies only if the author is no subscriber of the journal, as Lisa Wynn writes in reply to my question:
Yes, according to what Sage sent me, if your university subscribes, you can download a conventional PDF (and then spread it around as much as you like). But if you don’t belong to a subscribing university, then you can only get this executable file (and only 25 people, too). The irony is that even if an AUTHOR doesn’t have a subscription, then the author doesn’t get the normal PDF, just the executable protected PDF. Maddening!
“A boycott would be swell (but don’t see that happening). digital disobedience is even better", somebody commented on the blog laguayabita.blogspot.com
Greg Downey has similar thoughts and comments on Culture Matters:
Yeah, I got one of these, too, recently from another journal, but I cheated on the whole thing: I printed off a copy and then scanned it as a .pdf on our departmental copier. It’s a bit bigger than a normal .pdf, so it’s harder to circulate, but it does give me a way to send the article to overseas colleagues.