Library:Scholarly Communications/Managing Copyright

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Managing Copyright

How do I retain my rights when working with publishers?

Copyright is actually a bundle of rights, including the rights over reproduction, creation of derivative works, distribution, and public display. Read your publication agreement (sometimes also called a copyright transfer agreement) to see if the publisher allows you to retain rights that are important to you.

Remember that publication agreements are negotiable. If your agreement asks you to forfeit important rights over your work, there are tools available to negotiate a more balanced agreement: The SPARC Canadian Author Addendum and Scholar’s Copyright Addendum Engine generate PDF documents that may be attached to a publisher agreement, and allow you retain certain rights, including:

  • To reproduce your work for non-commercial purposes.
  • To reuse portions of your article in derivative works.
  • To grant permission for others to make non-commercial use of your work.

For more information about copyright in general, see the UBC copyright site.

Can I share my research online through a personal website or digital repository?

This will depend on the copyright policies of your publisher, the rights you retained through your publication agreement, and the version of the work you’d like to share.

Some publisher agreements allows authors to archive pre-prints (your manuscript prior to peer review), and/or post prints (your final peer-reviewed manuscripts). Open Access journals often allow you to retain copyright over your article with very few or no restrictions (authors are often able to freely share the PDF of the final article). Publishers may also specify conditions such as where you can archive, how soon after publication, and how to cite the resource when archiving.

The best way to determine what you can do is to read your publication agreement. You can also refer to SHERPA/RoMEO, which provides details of the archiving rights normally given by the publishing agreements of various publishers. SHERPA/RoMEO ranks publishers on the following scale:

  • Green: authors can archive post-prints (the final draft of an article after peer review) and the publisher’s final PDF version of articles.
  • Blue: authors can archive post-prints or the publisher’s final PDF version of the article.
  • Yellow: authors can archive pre-prints (the version of the paper before peer-review).

Can I use parts of an article I have published in a new work?

Again, this will depend on your publication agreement.

These agreements typically establish who owns the copyright for the article (usually the publisher), and they often also outline how the article may be reused by the authors in the future. If you did sign such an agreement and you still have a copy on file, then you should check to see (1) who owns the copyright and (2) whether the agreement provides advance permission for authors to reuse content from the article in future publications.

If you don’t have a copy of your publication agreement, or if the agreement does not provide advance permission for reuse in future publications, then you will need to seek permission from the publisher to republish content. For most large publishers, you can usually obtain permission through the Copyright Clearance Center, or by contacting the permissions office of your publisher directly.