Many publishers’ agreements will ask you to surrender more of your rights than are necessary for publication. Depending on the agreement, you may find yourself unable to re-use portions of your articles in other publications, or even prevented from using your own work in your classes.
Luckily, the library has experts who can help you navigate these agreements and maintain more control of your work.
SPARC Author Rights and Author Addendum: provides information about retaining copyright for academic articles and sample addenda to submit with a publication agreement. You may download addenda here for the U.S. and Canada.
Science Commons: Scholar's Copyright Addendum Engine: allows you to generate a PDF to attach to your publication agreement allowing you to retain more control over the dissemination of your scholarship.
People often use the terms "author rights" and "literary rights" to mean copyrights. Copyrights are legal rights that attach to certain types of intellectual property. Copyrights are granted under federal law to authors of creative works at the time of the work's creation in a fixed, tangible form. Authors do not have to apply for or file a copyright.
Section 106 of the Copyright Act states that only the owner of a copyright has the authority to use the work in one of six ways:
Transferring Copyright to Publishers
The six exclusive rights discussed above are commonly referred to as a "bundle of rights" because copyright owners control each of the rights individually and as a group. When a copyright owner contracts with another party to permit use of their rights, the owner can give away one, some, none, or all of their rights. They can transfer or license the rights. When licensing the rights, authors can enter into an exclusive or non-exclusive, irrevocable or revocable license. Because there is flexibility in how these rights are distributed, authors can use this to their advantage when negotiating their authors rights agreements with publishers.
Most author rights agreements transfer all copyrights to the publisher in their entirety. Researchers should thoroughly read their publishing agreements before signing to verify what rights they are being asked to give away.
A complete transfer of copyright can have the following implications: