Skip to Main Content
We are working to upgrade the research experience by making ongoing improvements to our Research Guides.
You may encounter changes in the look and feel of the Research Guides website along with structural changes to our existing guides. If you have any questions or concerns about this process please let us know.

Scholarly Publishing

About Author Copyright Agreements

Canadian Association of Research Libraries & SPARC (2009). Author's rights [Video]. YouTube.

Did you know that researchers, authors, and creators own the copyright to any scholarly work  they create until they give that right away? Copyright belongs to a creator as soon as a work is in a tangible form (e.g., a Word document, a web site, or a recording). U.S. copyright law gives the creator of an original work, such as a scholarly article exclusive rights to the following:

  • Reproduce the work:  make copies (print or electronic versions).
  • Prepare derivative works:  use your work in a later edition, a collection of works, or in a different format.
  • Distribute copies of the work:  give to others through e-mail, share on social media, or post on a course learning management system.
  • Publicly display or perform your work.
  • Authorize others to do any of the above.

Transferring Those Rights

Many publisher contracts restrict creators' subsequent usage of their published work in their teaching and research. For example, contracts often impede placing the work in or using the work for the following:

  • Posting onto course websites or learning management systems.
  • Inclusion in course packs.
  • Use or sharing via scholarly presentations.
  • Posting to the creator's personal web page or online scholarly profile sites.
  • Creating updated versions or derivative works.
  • Submitting the final version of work in repositories such as FAU Libraries' Digital Library

In fact, after ceding copyright to the publisher, the creator generally has little say in how the work is later used. The result, all too often, is that contracts restrict the dissemination of one’s scholarship and lessen one’s impact as a researcher, creator, or author.

Related Guides

Author Addendum

Copyright Agreements


Transferring copyright doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Accordingly, creators should take care to assign the rights to their work in a manner that permits them and their colleagues to use the work freely, both for their teaching, research, and distribution.  Publishers require only the creator's permission to publish an article, not a wholesale transfer of copyright. One suggested mechanism for securing your rights is to use documents such as the SPARC Author's addendum to keep some of your rights.

Last updated on Apr 5, 2024 3:59 PM