Skip to main content

Scholarly Communication: Author Rights

Resources about scholarly communications and Open Access links

Alternative Publishing

Traditional publishing models for scholarship work with commercial publishers or with university press or society publishers.  The outcome is a journal article or book.  Authors are usually asked to give up their ownership of copyright to the publisher. 

Alternative publishing involves two major possibilities:

  • using the traditional model but retaining some copyright provisions
  • working with open access modes of publishing

When working with a traditional commercial publisher, the author can and should negotiate rights.  For an idea of what you might wish to negotiate, visit the Author's rights page at SPARC.

Open Access materials can include pre or post print material, data sets, or materials not published through traditional materials. 

  • Gold OA journals are peer reviewed and are published as journals
  • Green OA materials may be peer reviewed and are published in journals or in institutional or subject repositories.

Open access materials are free to the user, but are not free to produce or maintain.  A variety of methodologies currently exist.

  • Advertising
  • Author fees for publishing (usually paid by their institution)
  • Delayed access (which allows for commercial publishing as well)
  • Library support by donation, membership, or institutional fees
  • Hybrid open access: where the journal is not open access per se, but the author can pay for her or his article to be open access.
  • Partial open access (which means that value added material may require payment)
  • University sponsorship of repository or journal

For more information about open access publishing, visit the SPARC pages

Author Rights Model License Language

The Author Rights Model License Language was started to help libraries develop standard language for licensing in open access insitutional repositories.  The blog has published a draft recommended clause for public comment.  It also has some language, through the "Related Efforts" tab that can be used by authors who wish to have sample language for inserting into journal publishing licenses.

Author's Rights Q and A

Common questions posed by authors prior to publishing their work:

Do you own the works you create?
Yes, unless have signed an agreement stating otherwise.

What does Copyright cover?
Copyright covers any tangible and original works, both scholarly and unpublished (email messages, lecture notes, and presentations).  Copyright does not cover the idea itself, rather the expression of it.  Copyright also does not secure facts.

Do I have to register for copyright and pay a fee?
No.  Copyright is automatic, once a work is fixed in a tangible form.  Registering for copyright can have benefits, however.  For more information visit the pages at the Copyright Office.

What happens when I sign a Publisher's Agreement?
Publishers often stipulate that you sign over copyright.  Doing so can cause issues when sharing your information.  Problems may arise when you:

  • Use your work in a course pack
  • Place copies on print or electronic reserves
  • Mount a copy on your web site
  • Distribute a copy to colleagues

What can I do?

  • Negotiate with the publishers to retain your 5 Basic Rights
  • Give the publisher only the rights needed for publication
  • Specify other rights important to you in the Publisher's Agreement 

For more information about Author's Rights visit SPARC's Resources for Authors webpage.

Subject Guide

Ben Tucker's picture
Ben Tucker
Contact:
Collins Memorial Library
1500 N. Warner St.
CMB 1021
Tacoma, WA 98416-1021
+1 (253) 879-3667