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Information for Faculty Authors: What Are Your Rights?

What are your intellectual property rights as the creator of content? Do you own the copyright to your published articles (Answer: You may or may not depending on the contract you signed with the publisher). What options do faculty authors have for retaining their copyright? We’ll explore the above questions in this section.

Copyright holders retain 5 basic rights:

  1. Right to Reproduce
  2. Right to Prepare Derivative Works
  3. Right to Distribute
  4. Right to Display Publicly (related to artistic works)
  5. Right to Perform Publicly (related to musical or dramatic works)

What Could You Lose If You Sign Away Your Rights (e.g., to a Publisher)?

You could lose the right to:

  • Use your work in a course pack
  • Place copies on print or electronic reserve
  • Mount a copy on your web site
  • Deposit a copy in your institutional repository
  • Distribute a copy to colleagues

If you transfer your copyright to a publisher, your rights will be limited by Fair Use when using your work in the future. Traditionally, academic publishers have required that authors transfer copyright to them, but this standard is changing. More and more campuses are creating Open Access policies that require authors to retain some rights to their work. The assignment of non-exclusive rights to publishers is becoming much more common.

So, What Should I Do?

A variety of tools are available to help you navigate and negotiate for keeping some of your rights. The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) can walk you through the process of creating an Author Addendum to attach to a journal publisher's copyright agreement to ensure that you retain certain rights. You can use these forms to negotiate to retain the copyright to your work: Additionally, the Authors Alliance and Creative Commons have developed a tool for authors to terminate their transfer of rights for previously published works: ToT Tool

Librarians are happy to help you:

  • Negotiate with the publishers to retain explicit ownership of your content.
  • Transfer, via an author addendum, to the publisher only those rights needed for publication.
  • Specify other rights of particular value to you or your home institution.
  • Explore publishing opportunities that will facilitate the widest dissemination of your work to help you fulfill your personal and professional goals as a scholar.
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Last Published 2/13/20

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