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Author Rights for Scholars & Researchers


Under U.S. Copyright law YOU as the AUTHOR have the following exclusive rights unless and until you transfer the copyright in a signed agreement:

The right to reproduce
publicly perform
and publicly display the copyrighted work.

Copyright protection is automatic. The author obtains these exclusive rights at the moment the copyrighted work has been “fixed in a tangible medium.”

Publishers and your copyright:

Faculty researchers and authors are paid by the university to create the scholarship and research that they give away FOR FREE to scholarly publishers.

University libraries are then forced to pay exorbitant prices to purchase access to the intellectual property that their own faculty created. **This purchased access is often times not permanent or consistent.

Rights publishers traditionally want:

  • Reproduction
  • Distribution
  • Derivatives…ALL!!

Rights publishers actually need:

  • Right of first publication…that’s it, really!

The cost of scholarly publications is (and has been) rising at rates that are several times higher than inflation.

Significant price increases in journals every year decrease the purchasing power of libraries overall which negatively impact the very limited acquisition budget and ultimately harm the ability of faculty and students to access important research.


Why Retain Your Rights:

When you sign a copyright license with a publisher you typically are giving away all your rights to your copyrighted work and the publisher is licensing back to you some basic rights.

Ask yourself as you read the agreement, can you:

  • Use YOUR work how YOU would like
  • Upload the article to the university institutional repository or online community to increase exposure and impact
  • Post the article in Moodle
  • Distribute the article @ a conference
  • Allow others to use portions or your work, graphs or table etc.
  • Reuse your own figures, charts, tables etc.
  • Translate the article into another language
  • Republish in different format
  • And anything else you come up with


What to Look For:

  • Agreement language stating the following: “the contributor assigns to NAMED PUBLISHER all copyright…”
  • Details on types of uses allowed or statements about needing to request permission
  • Has the appropriate Creative Commons license been assigned in cases where such as license can be applied
  • How will publisher comply with granting agency public access / open access policies and requirements – use ROAR to check funders requirements.


Ways to unbundle rights:

ASK questions if you don’t see clear answers.

Ask for an alternatives to signing over all your rights through the use of:


Measuring Research Impact


Library Contact

Julia Rodriguez
Scholarly Communications Librarian

Created by Name / Updated on November 8, 2018 by Name

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