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Copyright: Author Rights

Know Your Copyrights

[2500 Creative Commons Licenses, By qthomasbower]

Author Addenda

An addendum is intended as a convenient way to seek the kinds of rights most academic authors would value.

Publisher Policies

Publisher policies and agreements vary considerably. The SHERPA/RoMEO database offers a summary of publisher copyright policies & self-archiving.

While some publishers will not accept an addendum outright, they might respond by sending back a second, more author friendly publishing contract.

Publisher policies change over time, and the terms stated on their web sites often vary from the terms of their actual agreements, so it is important to read the agreement itself.

Examples of Publisher Copyright/Publication Agreements:

What Are Your Rights?

Copyright grants an author of an original work the exclusive rights to:

  • To reproduce the work in copies (e.g., through photocopying)
  • To distribute copies of the work
  • To prepare transitional or other derivative works
  • To perform or display the work publicly
  • To authorize others to exercise any of these rights
  • To reuse your work in teaching, future publications, and in all scholarly and professional activities.
  • To post your work on the web (sometimes referred to as “self-archiving”), in a disciplinary archive (such as PubMed Central or arXiv), or in an institutional repository, such as Iowa Research Online. 

Copyright protection applies to any work that:

  • Is an original work of authorship
  • Involves some aspect of creative expression or analytical interpretation. Facts cannot be copyrighted
  • Fixed in a fixed, tangible form of expression, published or unpublished.

(From What is Copyright?), U.S. Copyright Office) 

You own your copyright from the moment the work is created, and there is no need to register your work with the U.S. Copyright Office. Registering a work, however, is required for certain publishing activities and can be helpful if you ever find yourself in a legal copyright dispute. Visit the U.S. Copyright Office's website to find out more. You will own your copyright until 70 years after your death unless you transfer the rights to a publisher or other party. 

There are some limits. Eventually, your copyright will expire and become part of the Public Domain. Your work may also be subject to Fair Use guidelines, allowing others to to use it in certain contexts. Finally, intellectual property created as part of a person's job can be considered "work-for-hire," and copyrightable by an author's employer. The University’s Intellectual Property Policy provides more information about the types of works it considers work-for-hire. 

Why Retain Your Rights?

Often publishers create significant barriers for authors who want to reuse their work, or allow others to use it. Negotiating changes to these standard agreements can help authors avoid unfortunate barriers to reuse and sharing.

Some research funders request or require that work created with their funds be made available openly on the web (example: the NIH requires grant receivers to deposit articles into PubMed Central, see UI Division of Sponsored Programs' NIH Public Access Policy web page, or UI Libraries LibGuide on the NIH Public Access Policy for details). Funder policies can be reviewed in the University of Nottingham’s SHERPA/JULIET web site. Other institutions also have open access policies or mandates.

Making research and scholarship as widely available as possible supports the University of Iowa’s mission "to advance scholarly and creative endeavor through leading-edge research and artistic production; to use this research and creativity to enhance undergraduate, graduate, and professional education, health care, and other services provided to the people of Iowa, the nation, and the world."

Which Rights to Retain

At a minimum: Transfer Copyrights But Reserve Some Rights

Negotiating changes to the standard contract before publication can help authors retain rights, thus increasing options for authors as well as readership, citation, and impact of the work itself. Before signing, strikeout and modify language of the publishing contract by changing the contract from granting "exclusive" rights to the publisher to granting "non-exclusive" rights to the publisher. Initial the changes and submit a signed copy to the publisher. In many cases, publishers will accept changed contracts.

Ideally: Keep Copyrights and Transfer Limited Rights to the Publisher

Option One: Cross out the original exclusive transfer language in the publication contract that your publisher provides and replace it with text such as the following:

“The author grants to the Publisher exclusive first publication rights in the Work, and further grants a non-exclusive license for other uses of the Work for the duration of its copyright in all languages, throughout the world, in all media. The Publisher shall include a notice in the Work saying "© [Author's Name]." Readers of this article may copy it without the copyright owner's permission, if the author and publisher are acknowledged in the copy and copy is used for educational, not-for-profit purposes.”

Option Two: Use the University of Iowa's Authors Addendum, or any author addendum you find suitable (the column to the left on this page has a list of addenda). An addendum provides you with the additional opportunity to grant other rights to the public - such as the freedom to use the work for non-commercial purposes provided attribution is given - which fosters further use and impact of your work.

Option Three: The Creative Commons helps you publish your work online while letting others know exactly what they can and can't do with your work. When you choose a license, CC provides you with tools and tutorials that let you add license information to your own site, or to one of several free hosting services that have incorporated Creative Commons.

How to Retain Your Rights

Check the SHERPA/RoMEO web site to view the self-archiving and copyright policies of your publisher.

Publisher policies and agreements are usually linked from the author information or article submission section of a journal’s website.

If the policy for the publisher you want to use isn’t listed in the SHERPA database, or isn’t what you desire, you can retain rights by specifying to the publisher of your article which rights you would like to keep.

The UI Authors Addendum enables authors to continue using their publications in their academic work and to deposit them into any discipline-based research repository (including PubMed Central, the National Library of Medicine’s database for NIH-funded manuscripts).

Use a Creative Commons license in place of the license provided by the publisher.