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Scholarly Communication Services - Copyright: Author Copyright Agreements

Author Copyright Agreements: Regaining Control

Association of College and Research Libraries & SPARC (n.d.). Author's rights [Video]. YouTube.

Did you know that researchers, authors, and creators own the copyright to any scholarly work  they create unless they give that right away? Copyright belongs to a researcher 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 author of an original work, such as a scholarly article exclusive rights to the following:

  • Reproduce the work
  • Prepare derivative works
  • Distribute copies of the work
  • 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:

  • Course websites
  • Course-packs
  • Scholarly presentations
  • Posting to the creator's personal web page
  • Submitting the 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.

Author Copyright Agreements & 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 include the SPARC Author's addendum.