University Libraries
 

Manage Your Rights

Who Owns The Rights To Your Scholarship?

Originally, most scholars own their own work, but you may be asked to give away those rights during the publication process. Your choice to keep your copyright or to relinquish it to a publisher has important implications for who can read your work, as well as whether you may use it in future work or share it in class or on the web.

Read a conversation between a professor of comparative literature at UCLA and his son, a copyright lawyer.

  1. What rights do I have as an author?

  2. Isn't it common practice to give away my rights?

  3. Why should I pay attention to author's rights?

  4. How can I find out what my publisher's standard author agreement allows me to do?

  5. Is there an easy way to find out whether my publisher's standard author agreement allows me to post my article on my website?

  6. What if I plan to mount the article on a web site that requires a password, like my WebCT course site or my departmental website?  Am I not automatically allowed to do that?

  7. How can I retain more of my author's rights than the publisher's standard agreement allows?

  8. Is there a preferred author addendum for University of Minnesota authors to use?

  9. I have heard about disciplinary repositories, such as the NIH's PubMed Central and the arXiv for physics and other sciences. How does the U of MN Author's Addendum affect the potential for depositing my work in such places?

  10. What if I am a federally-funded Researcher - can I still use the U of MN Author's Addendum?

  11. How does the U of MN Author's Addendum apply to papers with one or more co-authors outside of U-MN?

  12. What if the publisher says No to the U of MN Author's Addendum?

  13. Is the U of MN Author's Addendum a threat to the viability of non-profit scholarly society journals?

  14. Is there anywhere I can share my work where I would always retain all rights to reuse it?

  15. Where can I go to find more information on copyright policies at the U of MN?
    1. What rights do I have as an author?

      You as the author or creator of an original work automatically have copyright for it, which gives exclusive control of how the work is reproduced, distributed or performed. If you transfer copyright, you no longer have control of how your work is distributed or used.



    2. Isn't it common practice to give away my rights?

      You may be asked to sign away your copyrights, in full or in part, to the publisher as a condition of publication. It is your choice whether to comply, considering which rights are truly necessary to the publisher and which rights you want to retain.



    3. Why should I pay attention to author's rights?

      These rights affect the potential reach and impact of your work as well as your ability to use your own work, including whether you could legally distribute copies of your article to colleagues and students.



    4. How can I find out what my publisher's standard author agreement allows me to do?

      The author's agreement or a summary of the publisher's policies is often available on the publisher's web site or the web site for the journal (look for the Author's information section). If it's not available there, you'll need to contact the publisher directly.



    5. Is there an easy way to find out whether my publisher's standard author agreement allows me to post my article on my website?

      A quick summary of many publishers' policies on posting (or "archiving") articles is available at the SHERPA site at http://www.sherpa.ac.uk/romeo.php. Search on the publisher's name or the journal title to see information on
      the publisher's policies.  Here is a brief key to their
      classification of publisher policies:


      ROMEO
      colour

      Archiving
      policy

      green

      can archive
      pre-print and post-print

      blue
      can archive
      post-print (ie final draft post-refereeing)

      yellow
      can archive
      pre-print (ie pre-refereeing)

      white
      archiving
      not formally supported



      If your publisher is not in the SHERPA database, check the publisher's web site or the web site for the journal (look for the Author's information section).



    6. What if I plan to mount the
      article on a web site that requires a
      password, like my WebCT course site or my departmental website? 
      Am I not automatically allowed to do that?

      The fact that the article will be posted on a site requiring a password is legally irrelevant.
      You may still need to get permission from the publisher to use it and possibly pay a fee for its use,
      depending on the author's agreement you sign.

      73% of the 400+ journals for which the University of Minnesota faculty serve as editors allow authors to post some version of their papers
      on their web sites. 9% disallow web site posting.

      You can always link to the content, even if you can't post it.
      For more information, see the Libraries' guide Linking Methods:
      Creating Persistent Links to Licensed Content



    7. How can I retain more of my author's rights than the publisher's standard agreement allows?

      You can propose changes to the standard agreement with the publisher. As an easy tool for negotiation, you can append to the standard agreement
      an addendum retaining certain rights you specify, taking advantage of the fact that copyright is a bundle of rights which need not be transferred in toto to a publisher.
      This avoids the exclusive and restrictive publisher control often associated with such transfers and leaves the author with more control over how the work is used and shared.
      Professor Gary Balas (Institute of Technology), Lisa Johnston (Science and Engineering Library), and Amy West (Wilson Library) have all succeeded in convincing publishers like AIAA,
      Elsevier and Taylor & Francis to change their generic publishing agreements.



    8. Is there a preferred author addendum for University of Minnesota authors to use?

      The University of Minnesota Senate has unanimously endorsed the Author's Addendum developed by the CIC (Big Ten). By signing the addendum and submitting
      it with the publisher's standard agreement, U of MN authors can retain
      their rights:

      • to use their own articles in their teaching and other
        professional activities

      • to post their articles on their web sites or on those
        maintained by the U of MN / scholarly societies / funding agencies (6
        months after the date of publication)

      • to grant the U of MN the right to distribute their articles
        for teaching and research purposes



      The addendum is thus a key tool through which authors can: a) alert
      publishers that they want to maximize access to their work and wish to
      abide by the University's endorsement; and, b) personally
      retain a number of rights within the copyright bundle which are necessary for the
      author's greatest flexibility in use of his or her own work. As noted
      at the Sherpa site above, some publishers have copyright transfer
      policies and publication contracts that allow open access deposit, and
      the retention of some other rights. With the endorsement of this
      addendum (and others like it around the world), and with direct
      communication from the University to publishers informing them of the
      policy, it is possible that more publishers will realize that a license
      to publish -- rather than complete copyright transfer -- is all they
      require, and the need for the addendum will diminish over time.



      The addendum is available on the Libraries website at
      http://www.lib.umn.edu/scholcom/CICAuthorsRights.pdf.



    9. I have heard about disciplinary
      repositories, such as the NIH's
      PubMed Central and the arXiv for physics and other sciences. How does the U of MN Author's Addendum
      affect the potential for depositing my work in such places?

      The addendum in no way prevents you from using such services. In
      principle, making your work available through multiple open access
      repositories will only further increase its impact. For a list of studies
      testing this principle, see
      Open Citation
      Project: "The Effect of Open Access and Downloads ('Hits') on Citation Impact
      .



    10. What if I am a federally-funded
      researcher - can I still use the U of MN Author's Addendum?


      Yes. The second bullet in the Addendum makes clear that you can comply
      with your grant agreement or cooperative agreement, provided that your
      funding agency does not require deposit at its site until at least 6
      months after publication.  If your funding agency needs deposit
      sooner than that, however, you can certainly adapt the wording of the
      addendum to suit your specific situation.

      On January 11, 2008, the National Institutes of Health announced its
      Revised
      Policy on Enhancing Public Access to Archived Publications
      Resulting from NIH-Funded Research
      ,
      placing a new reporting requirement
      on NIH-funded researchers taking effect on April 7, 2008. The final,
      peer-reviewed manuscripts of all articles arising from NIH-funded research
      which are accepted for publication on or after April 7th will need be
      submitted to PubMed Central,
      NIH's digital archive of biomedical and
      life sciences journal literature, where they will be freely accessible
      to all so that they might better advance science and improve health.
      For more information, see our guide to
      NIH Public Access.


    11. How does the U of MN Author's Addendum
      apply to papers with one or more co-authors outside of U-MN?


      Each co-author shares ownership of the entire work. Each can
      exercise any of the rights of the copyright owner and can transfer or
      license the work. The only duty joint owners owe to each other is to
      account for any profits associated with the work to the other joint
      owners. As a practical matter we would
      expect U of MN co-authors to check with and inform their co-authors of
      the policy and of any open-access deposit of their work.



    12. What if the publisher says No to the U of MN Author's Addendum?

      You still have a choice of action: you could negotiate fewer rights with the publisher,
      or sign the standard agreement without the addendum, or investigate publishing in
      another venue with policies you prefer.
      We are aware of no instance in which a publisher has refused to publish
      an article where the author initially sought to retain some non-exclusive rights
      to the article. For more negotiating tips, see
      How to Retain Ownership of Your Copyright when Dealing with
      Publishers (A Very Short Guide to Negotiation), from Arizona State University

      or Author Rights: Using the SPARC Author Addendum to secure your rights as the author of a journal article



    13. Is the U of MN Author's Addendum a
      threat to the viability of non-profit scholarly society journals?


      No, probably not. There is as yet no evidence
      that publishing revenues are declining or at risk, even with the rapidly growing number of open access policies and amount
      of publicly available scholarship. Further, the
      policy contains a key provision that protects
      journals and the peer review process: for those journals that do not
      already allow open access to articles within six months of publication,
      the policy assumes, and faculty may specifically request, a delay of up
      to six months after publication and before the university places any
      articles in a public repository. Immediate access continues to be
      through the published journal.



      In some disciplines, freely accessible online archives have proven to
      be a supplement to journal readership, not a replacement for it. In
      physics, for example, where nearly 100% of new articles are freely
      available from birth in the arXiv open-access repository,
      subscription-based journals have continued to thrive. The American
      Physical Society and the Institute of Physics Publishing are unable to
      identify any subscriptions lost as a result of arXiv in more than a decade of
      its existence [see Swan, A. (2005) Open
      access self-archiving: An Introduction. Technical Report, JISC, HEFCE.
      ].



    14. Is there anywhere I can share
      my work where I would always
      retain all rights to reuse it?

      You could deposit your work in the University of Minnesota Digital Conservancy,
      which provides long-term preservation and access services for the intellectual
      and creative output of the University's academic, research, and administrative communities.
      You as an author retain copyright to your submissions and are free to reuse your works elsewhere.
      Contributing works to the Conservancy does not transfer intellectual property rights.
      For more information, see the UDC's Copyright
      Policy and Deposit Agreements
      page.



    15. Where can I go to find more
      information on copyright policies at the U of MN?

      Visit the
      University's Copyright Policy: Background and Resource Page.

    Does this page answer your question? If not, Ask Us!

    Some of this information is provided courtesy of University of California's Office of Scholarly Communication,
    UC-Davis's Health Sciences Libraries, Indiana University's Copyright Initiatives, and University of North Carolina Libraries

    Creative Commons License Unless otherwise noted, all content on the Transforming Scholarly Communication section of this site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License.