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This a guide to resources on copyright for the Rowan community

Author Rights

Authors who publish articles in scholarly/peer-reviewed journals may be required to sign away copyright to their scholarly works, either in full or part, when signing the Copyright Transfer Agreement. With this transfer, authors often lose the rights to reproduce, distribute or copy their own works without permissions from publishers. The publishers, in turn, sell licenses to these works back to authors' institutions/libraries for exorbitant prices.

By retaining control of copyright, authors would take control of their scholarly works.

Signing copyright agreements with publishers does not have to be an all or nothing deal. Authors have the option to negotiate with publishers in order to retain copyright to their works. Authors can either:

  • Retain copyright but license exclusive first publication rights to the publisher
  • Transfer copyright but retain some specific rights

If publishers are unwilling to negotiate their copyright transfer agreements, authors have the option to:

  • Publish with journals whose publishers are willing to negotiate OR
  • Publish with open access journals OR
  • Archive pre-print work in an Institutional Repository prior to submitting their works to a peer reviewed journal to make their work openly accessible

Know Your Rights

Your work is under copyright protection the moment it is created and fixed in a tangible form that it is perceptible either directly or with the aid of a machine or device. 

As the copyright owner, you are granted these six fundamental rights:

  1. To reproduce the copyrighted work

  2. To prepare derivative works

  3. To distribute copies of the work

  4. To perform the work publicly

  5. To display the work publicly

  6. To perform the work publicly by digital transmission 

Retaining Your Rights

  1. The author is the copyright holder. As the author of a work you are the copyright holder unless and until you transfer the copyright to someone else in a signed agreement.
  2. Assigning your rights matters. The copyright holder possesses the exclusive rights of reproduction, distribution, performance,  display, and modification of the work.  An author who has transferred copyright without retaining these rights must ask permission unless the use is one of the statutory exemptions in copyright law.
  3. The copyright holder controls the work. Decisions concerning use of the work and any use restrictions belong to the copyright holder. Authors who have transferred their copyright without retaining any rights may not be able to place the work on course Web sites, copy it for students or colleagues, deposit thework in a public online archive, or reuse portions in a subsequent work. That’s why it is important to retain the rights you need.
  4. Transferring copyright doesn’t have to be all or nothing. The law allows you to transfer copyright while holding back rights for yourself and others. This is the compromise that the SPARC Author Addendum [see mid-page] helps you to achieve.

Scrutinize the Publication Agreement

  1. Read the publication agreement with great care. Publishers’ agreements (often titled “Copyright Transfer Agreement”) have traditionally been used to transfer copyright or key use rights from author to publisher. They are written by publishers and may capture more of your rights than are necessary to publish the work. Ensuring the agreement is balanced and has a clear statement of your rights is up to you.
  2. Publishing agreements are negotiable. Publishers require only your permission to publish an article, not a wholesale transfer of copyright. Hold onto rights to make use of the work in ways that serve your needs and that promote education and research activities.
  3. Value the copyright in your intellectual property. A journal article is often the culmination of years of study, research, and hard work. The more the article is read and cited, the greater its value. But if you give away control in the copyright agreement, you may limit its use. Before transferring ownership of your intellectual output, understand the consequences and options.

(Quoted from Authors Rights, SPARC)

Additional Information

Register Your Work

Per the Copyright Office, "your work is under copyright protection the moment it is created. . . . Registration is voluntary and recommended for a number of reasons. Many choose to register their works because they wish to have the facts of their copyright on the public record and have a certificate of registration. Registered works may be eligible for statutory damages and attorney's fees in successful litigation. Finally, if registration occurs within five years of publication, it is considered prima facie evidence in a court of law."

The Copyright Office makes it easy for authors to register copyright on their own works. Their website contains useful information, including what can be copyrighted, a listing of current fees, and updated FAQs.

The Copyright Office offers an online copyright filing interface, that both lowers your filing cost and speeds up registration times.

Rowan University Policies

Resources on Author Rights