Copyright for Scholars and Creators

Creation of a work of scholarship or creativity, simultaneously makes the author a copyright holder. In general, authors/creators at UD own the rights to their works of scholarship and creativity unless those rights have been given in writing to another party, or was produced under a grant that required some other distribution rights. Unless you have transferred the copyright to another person or organization, you remain the copyright holder and may elect to distribute your work through eCommons.

In the course of formally publishing journal articles and other works of scholarship and creativity, most publishers/producers require authors/creators to sign a copyright agreement or assignment of copyright. Until recently many of these agreements transferred the "exclusive rights" of the scholar/creator to the publisher. This means that you, as author/creator, retain NO rights to distribute, reproduce, publicly perform, publicly display, or use your work in future publications without the permission of the publisher/producer.

Recent efforts by research universities to regain rights to disseminate and archive the work of their faculty have resulted in a change in publisher’s contracts. More publishers are now granting authors/creators some rights to their work, especially the right to deposit a digital copy in the faculty member’s university institutional repository, e.g., eCommons. Before signing a publisher’s contract, read it and use the Publisher Copyright Agreement Checklist to identify the rights that the publisher grants you for the use of your published work.

If you have already signed away "exclusive rights" to your scholarly/creative work, many publishers have changed their restrictions on posting published works to an institutional repository and are granting these rights retrospectively. These agreements vary from publisher to publisher. The SHERPA/RoMEO site provides easy access to the general publication terms of many publishers. In general, the publisher may allow:

  1. a preprint version (before peer-review or editing);
  2. a post-print version of the work (after peer-review and editing);
  3. a post-print version of the work that you have updated to mirror the published version; or
  4. the journal’s published version.

For current and future publications, it is now possible to modify the publisher’s copyright agreement with an “addendum” that defines rights reserved to the author/creator. The University Libraries encourages authors/creators to attach to all negotiations with publishers the Amendment to Publication Agreements for OhioLINK Authors The amendment negotiates the right of the author/creator to provide access to a digital copy of his or her work through a digital repository such as eCommons. Some publishers may resist allowing an addendum to their standard copyright agreement, but you have the support of Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC), as well as several major universities including the University of California system.

It is also incumbent upon faculty to select publishers that encourage widespread dissemination and impact of scholarship and creativity. Authors should consider publishing strategies that optimize short- and long-term access to their work, taking into account such factors as affordability, efficient means for distribution, a secure third-party archiving strategy, and flexible management rights. If you need help with questions about managing your intellectual property and reserving the rights to provide open access to your publications, please contact Kathy Webb, Dean of the University Libraries at .

Adapted with permission from OPUS at the Indiana Purdue University at Fort Wayne