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Copyright for Authors

Publication Agreements

A publication agreement is a legal contract between you & your publisher. Among other things, it determines

  • who the copyright owner is -- an agreement may transfer ownership from you to your publisher.
  • what rights you retain over your work -- if the publisher becomes the copyright owner, the agreement can still grant the author certain rights to use the work & share it with others.

Understanding & Negotiating Your Agreement

Managing Rights to Your Work — A Few Options

  • Check the publisher's copyright/self-archiving policies.  Search Sherpa Romeo by journal title to investigate publisher's standard copyright and self-archiving policies.  Use the copyright links provided to verify against the publisher's own website.
  • Transfer copyrights but reserve some rights: negotiate with the publisher in advance of what rights you would like to retain.
  • Keep copyrights and transfer limited rights: 
    • Include the SPARC Author Addendum provided by the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (more options at Scholars' Copyright Addendum Engine) with your signed publication agreement to modify the contract to transfer non-exclusive rights to the publisher. 
    • Add a Creative Commons license to your work to retain copyright but allow others permission to use your work in certain ways.
  • Submit work to open access journals or to publishers that allow for self-archiving without an embargo: Many publishers are liberalizing their policies to help achieve a balance between their interests and those of their authors.

Rights to Think About

You can assign/transfer your copyright to the publisher, but at the same time reserve some specific rights for yourself.

Alternately, you can retain your copyright, and license specific rights to the publisher.

Rights you might want to consider include:

  • The right to make reproductions for use in teaching, scholarship, and research
  • The right to borrow portions of the work for use in other works
  • The right to make derivative works
  • The right to alter the work, add to the work, or update the content of the work
  • The right to be identified as the author of the work
  • The right to be informed of any uses, reproductions, or distributions of the work
  • The right to perform or display the work
  • The right to include all or part of this material in the your thesis or dissertation
  • The right to make oral presentation of the material in any forum
  • The right to authorize making materials available to underdeveloped nations for humanitarian purposes
  • The right to archive and preserve the work as part of either a personal or institutional initiative, e.g. On your web site or in an institutional repository.
  • The copyright in every draft and pre-print version of the work.

Publisher Copyright Policies

How can you share an article you've published (or plan to publish) in a journal?

Maybe you'll want to post it on your website later on, or share in your discipline's subject repository?

What you can share, where and when you can share it, and what version (i.e. published version, accepted version, or submitted version) will vary by publisher, and by what you've negotiated with them.Sherpa Romeo

  • Search Sherpa Romeo as a first step to learn about your publisher's policies on copyright and self-archiving.
  • From there, consult the publisher's copyright/author archiving pages for more details.
  • If you planning to publish in the journal, consider negotiating your publication agreement to allow for more flexibility in sharing your work (see the "Understanding & Negotiating Your Agreement" section below for options in how to go about this process).