What are Your Rights As an Author?
As an author, as soon as your work is fixed in a “tangible form of expression” you become the copyright holder, even if this form is an unpublished manuscript. Registration is not required to become the legal copyright holder of your own work. As the copyright holder you are automatically granted the following five exclusive rights:
- Right to Reproduce
- Right to Prepare Derivative Works
- Right to Distribute
- Right to Display Publicly (related to artistic works)
- Right to Perform Publicly (related to musical or dramatic works)
It is important to understand your exclusive rights and for you to consider what rights you may be giving up before signing any publishing agreements. Many publishers routinely require authors to transfer copyright to the publisher. If you sign over your rights to publishers you could lose the right to:
- Use your work in a course pack
- Place copies of your work on print or electronic reserves
- Post a copy of your work on your web site
- Deposit a copy of your work in your institutional repository
- Distribute a copy of your work to colleagues or students
Tools for Retaining Copyright
Before you sign any agreement, you have the option to attempt to negotiate the terms and retain some of your rights if the publisher is willing. After signing your agreement, it is important to keep a copy for your records. As the author, you always retain the right to be identified whenever the work is distributed or published.
Below are several resources that will help you navigate this process and assist you in negotiating the retention of your rights.
In recent years, many authors have forgone traditional publishing models in favor of publishing their work in Open Access journals. Simply defined, Open-access (OA) is scholarly content that is freely available on the Internet for anyone to view, download and use without first requiring a subscription to access it.