Copyright law gives the creator of copyrighted works exclusive rights to
• reproduce the work in copies (e.g., as photocopies or online),
• distribute copies of the work;
• prepare translations and other derivative works,
• perform or display the work publicly;
• authorize others to exercise any of these rights.
Scholarly journals typically ask authors to sign a publication agreement or a copyright transfer agreement. These documents transfer ownership of copyright to the publisher and determine the uses an author will be able to make of his/her work in the future.
Note: If an author transfers ownership of the copyright, he or she can still retain the right to do certain things such as include articles in course packs, or place articles on a personal website
Most open access journals allow authors to retain copyright or provide some ability to share the content. If the author retains ownership of the copyright, he or she can grant a non-exclusive license to the publisher, typically for the right of first formal publication.
Science Commons has created a Scholars Addendum Engine that generates a PDF example of what an author can attach to a publication agreement.
The SPARC Author's Addendum is a legal instrument that modifies the publisher’s agreement and allows an author to keep key rights to articles.
The Authors Alliance has created a guide on Fair Use for Nonfiction Authors. The guide includes fair use approaches to common situations faced by nonfiction authors.
This short video from the Center for Digital Research and Scholarship (CDRS) at Columbia University discusses the ramifications of common publication agreements and gives advice for authors interested in retaining their rights.