Author Rights

Congratulations! You are being published. Some authors think the publication agreement is an all or nothing deal, but you can negotiate to retain some rights.

Under U.S. federal law, copyright is automatic from the moment the work is fixed in a tangible medium. You are the owner of your work until or unless you sign it away. As the owner of your work you have the following exclusive rights:

  • The right to copy or reproduce the work in any format
  • The right to make derivative works (a translation is an example of a derivative work)
  • The right to control distribution of new copies of the work
  • The right to perform and display the work publicly

Many publishers will want you to transfer copyright to them in exchange for publication – this occurs through the publication agreement or the copyright transfer agreement. This is a serious decision that has many implications for the future use of your work. You may want to consider retaining rights to:

  • Post your work on your website
  • Distribute copies to your colleagues or to your class
  • Reuse portions of the work in future publications or present at conferences
  • Add a copy to Texas ScholarWorks or a subject specific repository
  • Moral right to be recognized as the author of the work

So, why should you try to retain some rights to your work?

  • Because it makes sharing easier
  • Openly available articles are cited more (For a summary of studies on citations see: http://sparceurope.org/oaca/)
  • Because it’s your work and you should be able to use it in the future without asking permission.
  • Sharing research as widely as possible supports the University’s mission to “contribute to the advancement of society through research, creative activity, scholarly inquiry and the development of new knowledge. The university preserves and promotes the arts, benefits the state’s economy, serves the citizens through public programs and provides other public service.” 
  • Because a publisher won’t retract the offer to publish just because you ask to negotiate the contract.

Read and save your publication agreements. If you would like help finding a publisher with author-friendly policies you can review theSherpa/Romeo site or ask us for help.

Who can I ask for more information?

Colleen Lyon, Scholarly Communications Librarian
c.lyon@austin.utexas.edu
Office: 512-495-4244