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Copyright: Your own

Sharing your work.

You should take an active role in managing your own copyright.

While you are not required to register your copyright, there are some benefits to registration. Registration creates an official record, helping others identify the copyright holder and helping in any legal dispute.

When you publish, you are not required to assign all your rights to your publisher. Consider how you may want to use your work in the future, or how you may want to make it available to others. You can "unbundle" the rights included under copyright, assigning some to your publisher and retaining others. SPARC, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, advocates for  author rights and provides an author addendum modifying copyright agreements with publishers.

Using a Creative Commons License grants permission to others to use your work in specific ways. Several levels of license are available.

To make your work most accessible to others, consider Open Access publishing.

Note that many government agencies require that the results of research they have funded be made publicly available.
See our guide to public access policies and information on the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR).

Protecting your work.

If someone posts your work online without your permission, you have recourse under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
This law protects internet service providers from legal action, provided they respond quickly to requests to remove infringing material from their sites.

Identify the DMCA agent for the website.

Notification must be in writing and contain the following elements:

  • A physical or electronic signature of a person authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.
  • Identification of the copyrighted work claimed to have been infringed, or, if multiple copyrighted works at a single online site are covered by a single notification, a representative list of such works at that site.
  • Identification of the material that is claimed to be infringing or to be the subject of infringing activity and that is to be removed or access to which is to be disabled, and information reasonably sufficient to permit the service provider to locate the material.
  • Information reasonably sufficient to permit the service provider to contact the complaining party, such as an address, telephone number, and, if available, an electronic mail address at which the complaining party may be contacted.
  • A statement that the complaining party has a good faith belief that use of the material in the manner complained of is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law.
  • A statement that the information in the notification is accurate, and under penalty of perjury, that the complaining party is authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.

Here is a sample DMCA takedown letter.

University policy

The University of Missouri policy on patent & copyright law deals with issues of whether the student, instructor, researcher or University hold the copyright for work done at the University. Some work created as part of University employment may be considered "work for hire" with the copyright held by the University.


Nothing on this guide is to be construed as legal advice. These pages are intended to provide information and guidance in the application of copyright law and to expand on the University of Missouri System Collected Rules and Regulations.

Thanks to Miller Nichols Library of UMKC for permission to reuse material from their Copyright guide.