Copyright is a bundle of rights that you, as an author/creator, can choose to keep or give away:
- Distribute your work to colleagues or students
- Make copies of your work
- Perform and publicly display your work
- Make derivative works
Before you sign a publisher agreement, please read to ensure you can retain these key rights of your work.
For more information specific to copyright, please see our guide.
Negotiating for Your Rights - All Contracts are Negotiable
At a minimum: Transfer Copyrights But Reserve Some Rights
Negotiating changes to the standard contract before publication can help authors retain rights, thus increasing options for authors as well as readership, citation, and impact of the work itself. Before signing, strikeout and modify language of the publishing contract by changing the contract from granting "exclusive" rights to the publisher to granting "non-exclusive" rights to the publisher. Initial the changes and submit a signed copy to the publisher. In many cases, publishers will accept changed contracts.
Ideally: Keep Copyrights and Transfer Limited Rights to the Publisher
Option One: Cross out the original exclusive transfer language in the publication contract that your publisher provides and replace it with text such as the following:
“The author grants to the Publisher exclusive first publication rights in the Work, and further grants a non-exclusive license for other uses of the Work for the duration of its copyright in all languages, throughout the world, in all media. The Publisher shall include a notice in the Work saying "© [Author's Name]." Readers of this article may copy it without the copyright owner's permission, if the author and publisher are acknowledged in the copy and copy is used for educational, not-for-profit purposes.”
Option Two: Use an Authors Addendum, or any author addendum you find suitable (see the box to the right for examples). An addendum provides you with the additional opportunity to grant other rights to the public - such as the freedom to use the work for non-commercial purposes provided attribution is given - which fosters further use and impact of your work.
Option Three: The Creative Commons helps you publish your work online while letting others know exactly what they can and can't do with your work. When you choose a license, CC provides you with tools and tutorials that let you add license information to your own site, or to one of several free hosting services that have incorporated Creative Commons.
If you need any assistance with investigating publisher policies or with negotiating your publishing contract, please contact Stephanie Davis-Kahl, Scholarly Communications Librarian, or Karen Schmidt, University Librarian.
Please note: This section was originally created by the University of Iowa Libraries and is licensed under a CC BY Creative Commons license. The content has been adapted slightly.
"Protecting intellectual property rights is a particularly important consideration, as many authors unwittingly sign away all control over their creative output. Toward this end, the CIC encourages contract language that ensures that academic authors retain certain rights that facilitate archiving, instructional use, and sharing with colleagues to advance discourse and discovery." (From the Committee on Institutional Cooperation's (CIC) Statement on Publishing Agreements, 2013)
The links below provide information and templates for negotiating the rights you want to retain in publishing your work.