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Too often, academic authors assign publishers perpetual rights to their articles and books in return for publication. Yet, you don't have to relinquish your rights--especially all of them--and you shouldn't. Before you sign a contract with your publisher, consider some of the rights that are yours and the rights that are important for you to claim: photocopying your own work, posting your work to Web sites, presenting your work at conferences, quoting from your own work, and submitting your work to repositories like Wesleyan's WesScholar, Research Papers in Economics RePEc or Umass Amherst's ScholarWorks.
Where can I learn more?
- SPARC's Author's Rights brochure (PDF) clearly details your rights and how to claim them.
- SPARC's short video focuses on the rights you should safeguard when publishing in a journal.
- Know Your Copy Rights offers a useful brochure (PDF) and Web site.
- Cornell University Library hosts a wealth of information on copyright management.
- See Duke University Press' example of a contract that preserves the rights of the author.
There are a number of good options:
- SPARC, The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, offers a clean, legally tested author addendum that many universities are using, and that we recommend. A PDF is available here, and through SPARC's Web site.
- Other examples include an Amendment to Publication Agreement (PDF) from Boston Library Consortium, and a shorter version (PDF) from The University of Kansas.
- Creative Commons offers a full spectrum of licenses for creative work. Using one of their licenses, you can dictate exactly how you want your work used (or not).
Read over the addenda and identify your rights. Then, consider submitting a note along with your first manuscript indicating that your rights are important to you. Ideally, these rights will then be included in your contract, and there will be no need for an addendum. If you are already at the contract stage, consider negotiating with the publisher. Verbalize the importance of retaining your rights. Most publishers will listen.
If nothing else, consider writing, "I reserve the right to deposit my work in my institutional repository" across the top of your contract.
What if the journal or book publisher that wants to publish my work doesn't accept amendments to their copyright agreements?
- Be persistent. More and more publishers are changing their policies. Explain the importance of retaining certain rights to your work, and ask for an explanation. The SPARC's Author's Addendum is a legal instrument that many publishers accept.
- Consider looking for publishers that are copyright friendly. Sherpa/Romeo keeps a searchable database summarizing publishers' copyright policies.
- Publishers who don't accept addenda are often willing to negotiate verbally.
How do I find out if the work that I have already published can be placed in WesScholar?
- Search the Sherpa/Romeo site for information about your publisher, or
- Check your contract, or
- Contact your publisher directly, or
- Ask for help (see below)
For More Information
"Authors' Rights," an article by Scott Bennet http://www.press.umich.edu/jep/05-02/bennett.html
The Public Domain, Enclosing the Commons of the Mind. James Boyle http://www.thepublicdomain.org/
Boston Library Consortium's "Authors' Rights And Publishing" http://www.blc.org/authorsrights.html
Cornell University Library's Scholarly Communication Page http://www.library.cornell.edu/scholarlycomm/copyright/faculty.html
Create Change is a Web site devoted to sharing research on the internet.
Creative Commons http://creativecommons.org/
Creative Commons search http://search.creativecommons.org/
Dartmouth College Library http://www.dartmouth.edu/~libcoll/scholcomm.shtml
Project Gutenberg http://www.gutenberg.org/
Scholarly Publication at MIT, http://info-libraries.mit.edu/scholarly/
Sherpa, opening access to research http://www.sherpa.ac.uk/romeo.php (A searchable database of publisher's copyright policies)
SPARC's "Campus and Regional Initiatives for Author Rights" http://www.arl.org/sparc/author/initiatives.html
UCONN's "Coyright Initiative" http://www.lib.uconn.edu/copyright/aboutThisInitiative.html
University of California's Office of Scholarly Communication http://osc.universityofcalifornia.edu/
University of Maryland University College, Center for Intellectual Property http://www.umuc.edu/distance/odell/cip/cip.shtm