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Author's Rights

Copyright for Authors


Understanding and Negotiating Your Rights


Reading and understanding your publication agreement (sometimes called a copyright transfer agreement) is important to make sure that your work can have the widest distribution possible and that you retain all of the rights you want. For example, some traditional publication agreements prevent you from distributing the work to colleagues, including a portion in a future publication, meet grant requirements for open access, or placing a copy on your website. Some agreements can be very short and may not detail the rights you are signing away. Here is an example of one such agreement:

"The author hereby assigns to ___________ the copyright in the above article, throughout the world, in any form, in any language, for the full term of copyright, effective upon acceptance for publication."


Finding journal copyright policies


SHERPA/RoMEO summarizes journal copyright transfers and permissions. It also ranks the journals on a color scale to easily show authors if pre- and post-prints of an accepted article can be published or stored elsewhere. In the example below, if I publish an article in the Journal of Popular Culture, I can post the version before it underwent peer-review (pre-print) somewhere, provided I acknowledge where it is being published. For the reviewed version, I have to wait 2 years (embargo) before posting it in selected places. And I'm never allowed to post the publisher's formatted PDF copy anywhere.

Journal of Popular Culture Sherpa/romeo screenshot

Using Creative Commons

What is Creative Commons? - (from the Creative Commons website, which is licensed CC-BY)

Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that enables the sharing and use of creativity and knowledge through free legal tools. Our free, easy-to-use copyright licenses provide a simple, standardized way to give the public permission to share and use your creative work — on conditions of your choice. CC licenses let you easily change your copyright terms from the default of “all rights reserved” to “some rights reserved.” Creative Commons licenses are not an alternative to copyright. They work alongside copyright and enable you to modify your copyright terms to best suit your needs.Creative Commons License

Creative Commons licenses are a way to modify and indicate how others can use your content. This can be used to signal to others that they don't need to ask to remix something you've created, provided they include attribution.