Don’t Give Away Your Rights! Copyright For Authors

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So, you’ve written an article for a journal. Congratulations! Next, you send it in and wait eagerly for the editor to contact you. Success! Your article has been accepted for publication. But wait! They want you to sign an agreement first, filled with (what looks to you) lots of legal mumbo-jumbo, and there’s something about assigning your copyright to the publisher. But if you sign it, you get to be a published author, so who cares what it says, right?

Not so fast!

What if you want to use sections from that article in a future paper? Or distribute copies to colleagues? Or post it on your personal website? All of these are allowed to the copyright holder, but you no longer are that, so to do any of these things, you may have to ask the publisher for permission for something you wrote!

So what do you do? If you haven’t signed the agreement yet, you can negotiate with the publisher. Read the agreement carefully. Consider an addendum, using a tool such as the Scholar’s Copyright Addendum Engine, which will help you craft something specific to your needs.

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If you’re still looking for a place to publish, think about going with an open access publisher. These are publishers committed to widespread access of scholarship to the general public. Most of them use Creative Commons licenses, which afford more rights than traditional licenses. There are many types of CC licenses. The least restrictive CC license is CC BY (Attribution), which means that anyone can distribute and modify the original article as long as the original author is given proper attribution. Other CC licenses may prohibit commercial enterprises from using the source material (CC BY-NC), or only allow distribution of the material, but no modification (CC BY-ND).

Some publishers may let you self-archive your works, which means posting them on a personal website or on a repository. Take a look at the SHERPA/RoMEO site, which has the policies of over 2200 publishers. You can search by publisher or journal. The Touro College Libraries has just launched our very own institutional repository, Touro Scholar, which will house the full-text scholarly output of the Touro College & University System. You can also look to see if your field has a subject repository.

The Touro College Libraries also have two LibGuides that can help you out with any questions you may have: Writing and Publishing for Faculty and CopyRIGHT!

Remember, you have rights! Before signing them away, make sure you are aware of your options.

Contributed by Carrie Levinson, Librarian, Midtown

References

Cirasella, Jill. (2015). [PowerPoint slides]. You know what you write, but do you know your rights? Understanding and protecting your rights as an author. Retrieved from http://academicworks.cuny.edu/gc_pubs/170/

SPARC. (2006). Author rights: Using the SPARC Author Addendum. Retrieved from http://sparcopen.org/our-work/author-rights/brochure-html/

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