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Author Rights

Retain Your Copyright

When authors produce original works (articles, books, sound recordings, etc.) they are automatically granted copyright protection for that work. Authors hold these rights until they transfer them to another party in a signed agreement.These rights include:

  • The right to reproduce
  • The right to prepare derivative works
  • The right to distribute
  • The right to display publicly
  • The right to perform publicly
  • In the case of sound recordings, to perform the work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission (e.g., webcasting).

The copyright owner(s) may transfer or license one or more of these rights to others for a specific period of time or in perpetuity. In the case of works created by employees during the course of and within the scope of their employment, the employer is considered to be the author. Section 101 of the U.S. copyright law defines such work as “work made for hire.”

Traditional publishing practices have required scholarly authors to give up all copyright to the publisher of the work. In the past, authors had few options except to sign these agreements. By doing so, they generally gave up the right to distribute copies of their work to classes, post original works on class web pages, share copies with colleagues, post to personal web pages or institutional repositories, or reuse a portion in future works. An exception to this would be “fair use”.

When you, the author, sign away your copyright, you lose control over how your work is used. The copyright holder now controls the future of your original work.

Author Amendment to Publication Agreement

The UConn Library recommend use of the Amendment to Extend Author Rights, which originated at MIT and has been adapted by the Boston Library Consortium for member institutions. The amendment gives authors and their institutions the right to use the authors’ scholarly work in educational and research-related ways in either print or digital format.

Agreement to Extend Authors Rights (Word version)
Agreement to Extend Authors Rights (PDF version)

Using the Amendment

  • Think about how you might wish to use the work in the future in your teaching and scholarship. Think also about how your institution, colleagues and students might benefit from use of your scholarship on web pages and in a repository.
  • Thoroughly read the publishing contract. Be sure that you understand what you are giving away and what you are keeping. The future of your scholarly work is at stake. Get help if you need it.
  • Complete the author amendment, print a copy, and attach it to your publishing agreement. Write a cover letter to the publisher noting the presence of the amendment. Mail the contract, amendment and letter to the publisher.
  • Negotiate to keep those rights which are important to you. If a publisher is unwilling to accept the amendment, find out specifically why. Modify the agreement as you need to. If a publisher is unwilling to negotiate at all, weigh your priorities and decide whether it is more important to retain your future rights or place your work with this publisher.
  • Be sure to get signed acceptance of your amendment confirmed by the publisher. Keep a copy of all paperwork for your records.
  • Save the post print manuscript of your work. Even if you did not retain the right to post it to your web pages or institutional repository now, the publisher may grant those rights in the future.

Resources

Authors’ Rights and Publishing from the Boston Library Consortium (BLC), of which UConn is a member
 
Author Rights from the Scholarly Publishing and Research Coalition (SPARC), of which UConn is a member
 
Copyright Management for Authors and Faculty from Cornell University
 
Contact us for more information.