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Open Access

Copyright: Owner's Rights

Copyright exists from the moment an original work is fixed in a tangible form. It lasts for the life of the author/s plus 70 years. Section 106 of the Copyright Act states that only the owner of a copyright has the authority to use the work in one of five ways:

  • Make copies
  • Distribute the work
  • Prepare derivative works
  • Publicly perform or display the work
  • License any of the above to third parties

Transferring your copyright to the publisher may prevent or limit your ability to: 

  • Self-archive your work
  • Distribute your work to friends and colleagues
  • Use your work in class or conferences without permission 
  • Republish your work

Transferring your copyright to the publisher allows the publisher to republish, redistribute, and commercialize your work without your permission. Publishers can even withhold your work from publication.

You don't have to sign away your copyright in order to get published!

Read your copyright transfer agreement. Don't like what it says? You can amend it.

SPARC Author Rights

SPARC Author Addendum

Author Rights Video from SPARC

1. Scrutinize the Copyright Transfer Agreement

2. Negotiate with the Publisher: transferring copyright doesn't have to be all or nothing

3. Retain the Rights You Need: Value Your Intellectual Property

Retain the Rights You Need

Publishers require only the author’s permission to publish an article, not a wholesale transfer of copyright.

Use Sherpa/Romeo to quickly find publishers' policies when deciding where to publish and what rights you'll need to negotiate. 

Use the How Open Is It? guide to make informed decisions about where to publish based on publishers' policies.

Use the Scholar's Copyright Addendum Engine to generate a cusomized addendum to your publisher's contract, reserving the rights you need.

Toll Access publishers’ contracts restrict an author's use of published work in teaching and research. Contracts may prohibit placing the final version publisher's pdf:

  • on course websites
  • in a course-pack
  • in scholarly presentations
  • on the author’s personal web page
  • and in digital archives like MU's MOspace

Some publishers anticipate an author's legitimate need to distribute and repurpose his/her work and no longer require exclusive rights to publication.

About embargos: Some publishers balance their interest in recouping publishing costs with the author’s desire to disseminate their ideas broadly, placing an embargo, usually 6-12 months, on the author's ability to place the publisher's pdf in a digital archive.

What to Look for in Publisher Copyright Agreement Forms:

Are you able to?

  • Make the work accessible in MOspace or another digital repository
  • Use part of the work as a basis for a future publication
  • Send copies of the work to colleagues
  • Share copies of the work with students
  • Comply with the NIH Public Access Policy or other funding agency policies
  • Present the work at conference or meeting and give copies of the work to attendees
  • Use a different or extended version of the work for a future publication
  • Make copies of the work for personal use and educational use
  • Use graphs, charts, and statistical data for a future publication
  • Use the work for educational use such as lecture notes or study guides
  • Comply with public access mandates
  • Deposit supplemental data from the work in an institutional or subject repository
  • Place a copy of the work on electronic reserves or use for student course-packs
  • Include the work in future derivative works
  • Make an oral presentation of the work
  • Include the work in a dissertation or thesis
  • Use the work in a compilation of works or collected works
  • Expand the work into a book form or book chapter
  • Retain patent and trademark rights of processes or procedures contained in the work

-Adapted from this list

Get Your Rights Back

Want to know if you can post your article somewhere? Look yourself up in dissemin. This site can detect if your paper is trapped behind a paywall.

Did you know that you can get your copyright back under certain circumstances?

The Authors Alliance and Creative Commons have created a Termination of Transfer Tool to help you regain your copyright.

How to craft a reversion letter using this guide from the Authors Alliance.

How to take full advantage of digital technologies when publishing

"Experts on copyright law and scholarly publishing discuss how scholars and researchers can take full advantage of opportunities afforded by digital technology in today's legal environment."

For Librarians: Author's Rights Retention Kit materials

The resuable files and examples were developed by Ann Viera to make the paper version of the Author's Rights Retention Kit for the UT College of Veterinary medicine authors.

Alternate versions created for Agriculture can be found here.