Retain More of Your Copyrights When You Publish

For many years, it has been common practice in academe for authors to sign away all their exclusive rights to book and journal publishers. While Copyright Law has not changed, new negotiating styles with your publisher can help to bring about change and flexibility so you can retain some of your rights—yet still benefit both you and your publisher. Several documents here can help you prepare to negotiate your rights.

Author's Copyright Contract Addendum


Academic institutions have already begun to adopt an authors' addendum  documents which can be attached to a publisher contract. This addendum is an agreement between you and your publisher that allows you to retain non-exlcusive, specific rights for professional use––yet also allows the publisher to continue to publish and exercise similar rights for distribution and copies.

The addendum is an agreement with multiple benefits:  for you, the institution, the publisher, and for print as well as digital uses. It gives the original author more flexibility in scholarly & related professional activities, including digital retention at the institutional level. In the spirit of agreement and practical rights for authors, if the publisher's contract and the author's addendum are in conflict, the addendum agreements will prevail.

Case has an Author's Addendum that can be used in negotiations with your publisher. Using the addendum can give you increased post-publication usage  rights for your teaching, and also provide for  inclusion  of your work in Digital Case, the university institutional repository. There are other examples of addendum agreements  now appearing. One is the CIC Provosts (Committee on Insitutional Cooperation) Scholarly Communication Inroduction with an Author Contract Addendum supporting new copyright agreements.  Also, Case is a member of  SPARC (Scholarly Publishing & Academic Resources Coalition), developed in recent years by ARL (Association of Research Libraries) as a catalyst for change in scholarly communtication and publication. SPARC has  publishing news, author's resources and a helpful brochure on Author's Rights , as well as an Author Addendum.

Other Initiatives for Alternative Copyrights

The Creative Commons has gained momentum in recent years, creating a way for creators to decide which rights they wish to retain and to make it easier to share and build upon the work of others–a key premise of federal copyright law. Creative Commons, founded in 2001, allows creators to assign varied copyright licenses to their works, and provides sample license agreements.  In 2008, Creative Commons estimated that 130 million CC licenses were assigned to new works.

Check with your publishers, too. Publishers are also liberalizing their prior contracts, as noted in the Elsevier announcement pages on their generous policy on thesis and prepub rights for authors.

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