Publishers naturally want to protect investments and value for the materials they distribute. As such, publication agreements have typically required the transfer of all copyrights from an author to the publisher. Authors may sign agreements without realizing what rights they are surrendering. These agreements can severely curtail the author's options for use or distribution of a work, even in academic activities such as teaching, peer assessment, or archiving. At the same time, technology presents authors with new opportunities to control, use, and disseminate their original works.
In response to lobbying from authors and rights groups, today's publishing agreements are often negotiable, and publishers are increasingly sensitive to the academic author's need for flexibility regarding non-commercial uses of copyrighted works.