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.
- Only sign a publishing agreement after you read and understand the content. (Find some publishers' copyright and archiving policies at the SHERPA site.)
- Talk to your publisher about granting only those rights needed to effectively publish and/or distribute the material. The libraries' Scholarly Communication page and SPARC's Author Rights pages have advice.
- Try to retain all your other rights, specifying those of particular value to you or your institution. For ideas, consult SPARC's Author Rights and Cornell's What Faculty Can Do.
- Use a model agreement addendum or license to help identify typical issues or formulate agreement language.
- Authors Rights (from SPARC) -- Has information, advice, and agreement addenda.
- Your Copyrights (Copyright Advisory Office, Columbia University Libraries/Information Services)
- Publication Agreements (Copyright Advisory Office, Columbia University Libraries/Information Services)
- Copyright Management: What Faculty Can Do (from Transforming Scholarly Communication and Publishing, Cornell) -- Outlines options to consider.
- Copyright Management for Scholarship (SURF Foundation)
- Copyright Resources for Authors (SPARC). See also Practical Guidance When Submitting Journal Articles (SPARC)
- Manage Your Intellectual Property (U. California)
- Protecting Intellectual Property (UT Austin)
Content in this page was used or adapted with permission from one or more institutions. Please see acknowledgements.