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Author Rights: Understanding your rights in scholarly publishing

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Copyright describes a bundle of rights. This bundle of rights includes the right to:

  • Distribute your work to colleagues within the university
  • Distribute your work to people outside of the university
  • Distribute your work in the classroom
  • Make derivatives of your work
  • Post the article in online repositories, such as TRUSpace, or ResearchGate

Author rights apply to your original works of authorship, whether you are faculty, staff or student

  • You hold the copyright to your work as soon as you put it onto paper, type it onto your computer screen,  or fix it in some other media (registration is not required)
  • You hold the copyright for your lifetime plus 50 years
  • Your copyright is inheritable, or you can sign it over to another person or body

Author rights allow you to:

  • Reproduce your work (publish, make copies, reformat, etc.)
  • Create derivative works (edit or build upon an existing piece of scholarship)
  • Distribute the work (publish, republish, give away, sell, etc.)
  • Perform, display, or broadcast your work in public

Author rights are inheritable, separable, and assignable

  • Rights held from creation through the author’s life plus 50 years
  • Copyright in a work may be assigned or licensed to others. All assignments and licences of copyright must be in writing to be valid. The mere transfer of physical possession of a work does not thereby include an assignment of copyright in the work
  • Subsequent rights holders may assign rights in whatever way they choose

After copyright expires, the work becomes part of the public domain and may be freely copied and shared. Copyright in publications with multiple authors lasts until December 31 of the 50th year after the last author dies.

Balanced approach

Copyright and publishing doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Copyright transfer agreements and licenses are NEGOTIABLE.  The law allows you to transfer copyright while holding back rights for yourself and others.

Most publishers are willing to discuss copyright agreements with authors to enable them to meet the terms of funders' open access policies and to retain other rights.

What is needed is a balanced approach to copyright.

Authors Publishers

Retain the rights you want

Obtain a non-exclusive right to publish and distribute a work and receive a financial return
Use and develop your own work without restriction
Receive proper attribution and citation as journal of first publication
Increase access for education and research
Migrate the work to future formats and include it in collections
Receive proper attribution when your work is used
If you choose, deposit your work in an open online archive where it will be permanently and openly accessible