Copyright was designed to serve the public interest by encouraging the advancement of knowledge while safeguarding the rights of authors and copyright owners. Balancing the needs and rights of creators, publishers, and users is difficult in the digital environment. Research libraries are particularly concerned about the impact of copyright management practices on scholarly communication and the dissemination of information. ARL has joined with others in the higher education and research communities to promote barrier-free access to information while exploring ways to protect authors’ rights to their intellectual property.
US Copyright law gives the author of an original work, such as a scholarly article, the exclusive rights to reproduce, distribute, adapt, publicly perform, and publicly display the copyrighted work. Copyright protection is now automatic. The author obtains these exclusive rights at the moment the copyrighted work has been “fixed in a tangible medium,” such as when a written work has been saved on a computer's hard drive or printed.
The author retains these exclusive rights up until the moment the author signs a written agreement to transfer some or all of these exclusive rights. (By contrast, an author may give others non-exclusive permission to use the copyrighted work in a variety of ways, including through verbal agreement.) A transfer of any exclusive right is truly exclusive—once transferred, the author may no longer exercise that right. If the author intends to retain the right to make any further uses of the copyrighted work, or intends to grant others permission to make any use of the copyrighted work, the author must make this clear in a written transfer agreement.
Strategies for Encouraging Authors to Retain Their Rights
- Hold conversations with faculty members about the importance of retaining their copyright
- Create Web sites with information on copyright retention
- Develop institutional versions of copyright publisher addendum
- Offer consultation services to faculty who have copyright questions
Some sources that provide researcher and scholar authors with information and tools they can use to manage the copyrights they hold in their works are listed below. Additional tools useful for faculty outreach programs are released periodically through the ARL/ACRL Institute on Scholarly Communication FAIR pages. In the changing environment of digital communication and publishing, copyright is an issue of substantial importance for national and international policymaking. Resources on a broad spectrum of copyright issues are maintained by ARL.
Author Rights Web Sites
- Arizona State University, Author Rights
- University of California, Berkeley, Manage Your Rights
- University of California, Irvine, Author's Rights, Copyright, and Fair Use
- Cornell University, Copyright Management
- Georgia Tech, Copyright
- University of Illinois at Chicago, Control Your Intellectual Property
- University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Copyright and Intellectual Property
- MIT, Your Copyright: Increase the Impact of Your Research
- University of Minnesota, Scholarly Communication
- Ohio State University, Author's Rights
- University of Tennessee, Faculty as Rights Holders
- Washington University in St. Louis, Becker Medical Library, How to Retain Your Rights
- University of Wisconsin, Managing Your Copyright
Library Statements in Support of Author Rights
- University of California Office of Scholarly Communication, Manage Your Intellectual Property
- Boston Library Consortium Inc., Agreement to Extend Author’s Rights
- OhioLINK Library Community Recommendations on Retention of Intellectual Property Rights For Works Produced by Ohio Faculty and Students (PDF)
Campus Statements in Support of Author Rights
- University of California Academic Council’s Special Committee on Scholarly Communication, The Case of Scholars’ Management of Their Copyright (PDF)
- Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC), Provosts’ Statement on Publishing Agreements
Library Services in Support of Author Rights
- Ohio State University, Copyright Resources Center
Author Addenda Examples
In consultation with legal counsel, campus libraries have modified or prepared addenda to publishing agreements for use by their campus community.
- Boston College Libraries, Scholarship Dissemination-Friendly Addendum to Publishing Agreements
- Dartmouth College, Author Rights: Tools and Resources
- University of Kansas, Author's Addendum to Publication Agreement (PDF)
- MIT Libraries, Copyright Amendment Form (Amendment to Publication Agreement)
- Washington University in St. Louis, Customized Copyright Addendum
For a review and analysis of author addenda, see Peter B. Hirtle, "Author Addenda: An Examination of Five Alternatives," D-Lib Magazine 12, no. 11 (Nov. 2006).
- Canadian Association of Research Libraries, Resources for Authors
- SPARC Author Rights
- Creative Commons
- Science Commons Scholar’s Copyright Project: Scholar's Copyright Addendum Engine
- Know Your Copy Rights®
- ACRL Scholarly Communication Toolkit
- JISC/SURF Copyright Toolbox
- SHERPA/RoMEO Publisher copyright policies & self-archiving