> However, I have, more than often, found almost identical versions > of the papers published in commercial journals on the Internet > which (perhaps) do not infringe the copyright laws anywhere since > usually they have a banner at the top saying something like "To appear > in XXX journal." > Generally, when you publish something you are required to assign the copyright to the publisher, which means that you can no longer do anything with it without the publisher's permission. For example, you can't legally publish it on the web without their permission. Adding "To appear in XXX journal" makes no difference.
Different publishers have different policies: some allow you to post the final version of a journal article on the web, some allow you to post only the submitted version (before the refereeing process), and some don't allow you to post anything.
I know nothing about the publisher who began this thread, but the idea of publishing, e.g. , conference proceedings simultaneously on the web and in print (for libraries and individuals who wish to have a bound copy) is an excellent one.