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Scholarly Communication @ UT: Keep Your Copyright

A guide to learn more about scholarly communication, including open access, copyright, and grant funding resources.

Congratulations on your publication! But keep your copyright.

Traditional publishing agreements typically transfer all rights, including full copyright, to the journal. You probably want to include sections of your article in later works. You might want to give copies to your class or distribute it among colleagues. And you likely want to place it on your website or in a repository. These are all ways to give your research wide exposure and fulfill your goals as a scholar, but they are prevented by traditional agreements.

The SPARC Author Addendum is a way to negotiate your publishing agreement and retain your author's rights.

Know your rights. Read the publication agreement.

  • Read the publication agreemen carefully. Publishers’ agreements (often titled “Copyright Transfer Agreement”) have traditionally been used to transfer copyright or key use rights from author to publisher. They are written by publishers and usually transfer more rights than are necessary to publish the work. Ensuring the agreement is balanced and has a clear statement of your rights is up to you.
  • Publishing agreements are negotiable. Publishers require only your permission or license to publish an article, not a full transfer of copyright. Hold onto rights to make use of the work in ways that serve your needs and that promote education and research activities.
  • Value the copyright in your intellectual property. A journal article is often the culmination of years of study, research, and hard work. The more the article is read and cited, the greater its value. But if you give away control in the copyright agreement, you may limit its use. Before transferring ownership of your intellectual output, understand the consequences and options.

The Goal: A Balanced Approach to Copyright

Authors

  • Retain the rights you want
  • Use and develop your own work without restriction
  • Increase access for education and research
  • Receive proper attribution when your work is used
  • Deposit your work in UT's Institutional Repository or another repository where it will be permanently and openly accessible

Publishers

  • Obtain a non-exclusive right to publish and distribute a work
  • Receive proper attribution and citation as journal of first publication
  • Migrate the work to future formats and include it in collections

SPARC Author Addendum

How to use the SPARC Author Addendum: 

  1. Complete the addendum.
  2. Print a copy of the addendum and attach it to your publishing agreement.
  3. Note in a cover letter to your publisher that you have included an addendum to the agreement.
  4. Mail/Email the addendum with your publishing agreement and a cover letter to your publisher.

Addendum Rejection

What if the publisher rejects the author addendum?

  • Explain to the publisher why it is important for you to retain the rights to your own work.
  • Ask the publisher to articulate why the license rights provided under the SPARC Author Addendum are insufficient to allow publication.
  • Evaluate the adequacy of the publisher’s response in light of the reasonable and growing need for authors to retain certain key rights to their works.
  • Consider publishing with an organization that will facilitate the widest dissemination of their authors’ works, to help them fulfill their personal and professional goals as scholars.

Acknowledgement

This guide is adapted from SPARC's Author Rights brochure