You are very likely a copyright holder! Know what your copyrights are, and what you can do with them.
I’m a Copyright Holder?
You automatically receive copyright protection for any kind of original work you create. This includes writings, images, video, drawings, books and more. Copyright protection begins the moment your work is created in any tangible form.
Copyright Gives You the Rights to:
- Reproduce your work
- Create another work based on the original, called a derivative work
- Distribute copies
- Perform or display your work publicly
- Authorize others to do any of the above
What This Means For You
Copyright allows you to decide how others interact with your work – if at all. You can reserve all your rights so that you have complete control, or you can grant others a license to use your work, with or without conditions. You can also choose to transfer your copyrights to someone else, such as a publisher, or give up your copyrights entirely.
If you would like to publish your work, you should consider your rights as an author.
What’s at Stake?
Academic publishers often request a full copyright transfer, which gives the publisher ownership of your work. This is unique to academic publishing; most publishers outside academia request a limited license to distribute an author’s work. Many academic authors find that they have given up more rights than they expect or wish to.
What you lose
If you transfer your copyright to a publisher, you could lose the right to:
- Make copies for your own use in classroom teaching
- Reuse your work in a compilation or in a self-authored textbook
- Distribute copies for internal use within your institution
- Republish articles as book chapters
- Submit your work to another publisher if the original publisher delays publication or ceases to exist
- Make a version of work publicly accessible – on your own website, in UNE’s institutional repository DUNE: DigitalUNE, in a disciplinary repository like arXiv, or similar
- Comply with grant funding agency requirements – some grants, like those from the National Institute of Health (NIH), require publication in the publicly available PubMed Central.
Keep Your Rights
Publishers don’t need to hold a work’s copyright in order to publish. When working with a publisher who requests copyright, consider negotiating to either offer only a license for the rights they need to publish, or to retain the rights you’d like to keep during transfer. The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) Author’s Addendum can help you understand the process.
Pay attention to the contract.
Publishers’ marketing materials may say that authors retain rights; but the contract authors actually sign is the legally binding piece. If particular rights matter to you, make sure they are referenced in the copyright transfer contract.
Have you already transferred your copyright and wonder if you can get it back? Contact your publisher or consult this Termination of Transfer Tool at rightsback.org.
Open Access publishers make materials available for free online and often have less restrictive author copyright and licensing terms than traditional publishers.
Open Access Repositories
Search the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) for high quality, peer reviewed open access research publications. DOAJ covers all open access academic journals which use appropriate quality controls.
You can publish your work in UNE’s institutional repository DUNE: DigtalUNE. Publishing in DUNE is free and you will not be asked to give up your copyright. We instead request that you grant a nonexclusive license to archive and provide access to your work. You get global exposure and can still pursue traditional publication options if you choose.
Contact UNE’s Scholarly Communications Research & Teaching Librarian Librarian, Sonya Durney, to learn more about DUNE: DigitalUNE
There are many subject/discipline specific repositories that accept submissions by authors from any institution. You do not need to choose between traditional publication or open access repository placement; your publication agreement can include the right to utilize both channels of distribution; in fact, some funding bodies require it!
Contact Scholarly Communications Librarian Bethany Kenyon with any questions about author’s rights.